DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the mother of all hormones. In other words, the body produces DHEA (from cholesterol, by the way) and the from DHEA it produces the sex hormones of estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone; plus the mineralocorticol steroids of glucocorticosterol and mineralocorticosterol.

Anti-aging experts have always recommended high levels of DHEA should be present in the blood for multiple reasons. DHEA can act on a lot of different pathways in the body to make it healthier. But let’s just look at cardiovascular disease and DHEA levels, and death rates to make things simple.

A study performed in Sweden in in 2010 put the importance of having high DHEA levels for prevention of cardiovascular disease and all-cause of death into perspective.[1] They evaluated 2644 elderly men, ages 69 to 81 years in Sweden. They wanted to see if the age-related decline in DHEA levels was really important for general and vascular aging and was there an association between the two.

After a mean follow-up of 4.5 years, they saw 328 deaths. They split the men up into 4 groups according to the range of their DHEA levels, called quartiles. Those who had the lowest DHEA levels were in the 1st quartile, and the levels increased for 2nd ,3rd , and 4th  quartiles.

The results were quite remarkable. Those who had the lowest levels of DHEA had shorter survival: they had a 54% increase in all-cause of death (mortality), a 61% increase in deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD), and a 67% increase in deaths due to ischemic heart disease.

This correlation was even more important when they compared the mortality of the younger men versus the older men. The mortality prediction among older men was 30% increased mortality if the DHEA levels were low. But in the younger men, the prediction of death was 264% greater in the 1st quartile compared to the other quartiles.

Thus, DHEA levels should be increased into the higher levels if possible. Most people tolerate a higher level of DHEA. However, if acne or hair loss occurs while on it, they may need to discontinue its use and not benefit from its good effects, or adjust the dose.

[1] Claes Ohlsson, Fernand Labrie, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Magnus K. Karlsson, Östen Ljunggren, Liesbeth Vandenput, Dan Mellström, Åsa Tivesten, Low Serum Levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Predict All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Elderly Swedish Men, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 95, Issue 9, 1 September 2010, Pages 4406–4414, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-0760