PillsCreative Commons License DHEA is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands and a building block for the sex hormones – estrogen and testosterone. Levels of  the hormone drop at a rate of about 3% a year; by the time people reach 70-years of age, they have only about 10% to 20% of the DHEA they had in their 20s. People take DHEA supplements in the hopes of improving mood and sleep patterns, increasing energy and libido, counteracting stress, preserving muscle, strengthening the immune system, and helping prevent heart disease and cancer. (Dosage? No one knows. Most studies used about 50mg daily.)

But, there are risks, including an increased risk for acne, prostate cancer, aggressiveness, and liver damage. Long-term consequences are unknown. In addition, the purity and strength of supplements are not regulated. Supplements made from wild Mexican yams claim to contain the building blocks for DHEA, but there is little or no evidence that the body converts these compounds into DHEA. Unless people are advised by their physicians to take DHEA, supplementing with this hormone is a buyer-beware decision. I recommend a natural alternative, which is: A few studies show that people who meditate have higher DHEA levels than nonmeditators. Photo credit:  Keith Ramsey via Compfight