DHEA Benefits and Studies

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a naturally occurring steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland, gonads and brain. The body uses DHEA to make estrogens and androgens. DHEA supplements can be made in the lab from chemicals found in wild yam and soy.  Since the body’s natural levels of DHEA generally begin to reduction after a person reaches 30 years of age. Individuals who are 70, tend to have DHEA levels approximately 80% lower than young adults.

DHEA Benefits and Researches

Low DHEA levels are correlated with depression and depressed mood. There is some early test findings that DHEA might improve mood and help depression. In a 6-week preliminary study, investigators from the “National Institute of Mental Health” found that therapy with DHEA supplements helped alleviate mild to moderate depression that occurs in some middle-aged people. The study also demonstrated significant improvements in sexual functioning scores in supplemented participants. Twenty-four healthy young men were given DHEA for 7 days; DHEA administration improved memory and mood. (Psychopharmacology. 2006 November). A clinical study performed by Dr. Samuel Yen and his associates in 1994 had important findings. At the end of the study period, 67% of the men and 82 % of the women reported an improvement in sleep, ability to cope with stress and basic well-being.

Addison’s Disease

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease is a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. It affects the production of 2 essential hormones called cortisol and aldosterone. DHEA is one of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. With adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal glands do not make sufficient hormones, including DHEA and cortisol. Some researches indicate that DHEA may improve well-being, quality of life, exercise capacity, sex drive, and hormone levels in individuals with Addison’s disease. In a study, scientists from Germany W. Arlt et al. gave 50 mg doses or placebo to 24 women with adrenal insufficiency for 4 months. They found that blood levels of DHEAS and testosterone went up to normal. The DHEA improved sexual interest and satisfaction, and decreased anxiety and depression over the placebo group.

Erectile Dysfunction

DHEA improves erectile dysfunction because of its androgenic effects. In a 2000 study from Urology, scientists evaluated 442 men and found that DHEA levels were lower in those with erectile dysfunction until age 60. A clinical trial enrolled 40 men with erectile dysfunction who had low measured levels of DHEA. The results demonstrated that DHEA at a dose of 50 mg daily significantly healed sexual performance.

Menopausal Symptoms

DHEA may help replace hormones in postmenopausal women. The hormone DHEA has been found to help alleviate menopausal symptoms in women, as well as helping them improve their sex lives, Italian scientists wrote in the Climacteric, the peer-reviewed journal of the International Menopause Society. The findings of a twelve-week study involving postmenopausal women who were given daily doses of DHEA intravaginally demonstrated rapid and beneficial improvements in sexual function and vaginal atrophy, without changes in their serum sex steroid levels. In a study, DHEA has been given as a 10% cream for twelve months to fifteen 60-70 year old women.  A reduction in fat and an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fasting glucose and insulin levels was noted.


Available findings show that DHEA improves ovarian function, increases pregnancy chances and, by reducing aneuploidy, lowers miscarriage rates. DHEA over time appears to objectively improve ovarian reserve. New animal data support androgens in promoting preantral follicle growth and reduction in follicle atresia. DHEA has been reported to improve pregnancy chances with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and is utilized by almost one third of all IVF centers world-wide. A study reported in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that DHEA supplement reduction the chances of miscarriage among women who had been diagnosed with decreased ovarian reserve. In 2010, scientists from Tel Aviv University performed the first controlled study of DHEA supplementation in women undergoing fertility therapy for poor ovulation. Prof. Adrian Shulman of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Meir Medical Center has found a statistical connection between the supplement DHEA, and successful pregnancy rates in women undergoing treatment for infertility. The treatment group, which consisted of 20 women, received 75mg of DHEA supplementation daily for 40 days before starting fertility therapy and continued for up to 5 months. The results demonstrated that the women who received DHEA supplements were three times more likely to conceive compared to the women who just received fertility therapy alone. “In the DHEA group, there was a 23% live birth rate as opposed to a 4% rate in the control group. We recommend that women try this DHEA treatment, in conjunction with fertility treatments, for four to five months,” explains Prof. Shulman.

Bone Health

DHEA increases bone health by improving mineralization to reduce fracture risk. DHEA therapy may help fight osteoporosis in women over 70 and is beneficial in preventing osteoporosis in women. Large statistical studies indicate a correlation between low DHEA levels and osteoporosis. A 2000 study showed improved bone turnover during a year-long study of daily 50 mg supplementation with DHEA. A clinical study of 50 mg per day of DHEA administered orally versus placebo for twelve months demonstrated improved hip BMD (bone mineral density) in older men and women with low DHEA-S (DHEA-S is the sulfated form of DHEA) levels, with additional improvements in spine BMD in women. Taking a DHEA supplement combined with calcium and vitamin D can significantly improve spinal bone density in older women, according to a research from a Saint Louis University scientists at Washington University. According to Edward Weiss, lead author of the study, patients who achieve similar increases of 2 to 4 % in spinal bone density with the help of medication experience a 30 to 50 % reduction in risk of spine fractures. Also, scientists say that the increase  in spinal bone density experienced by women in the test group who took DHEA for 2 years, is at least as efficacious as other current treatments including estrogen and bisphosphonates. Results were reported in the May 2009 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition“.


Low DHEA levels are associated with increased cardiovascular risk. A 1995 study by Herrington, reported at the “New York Academy of Sciences“, found significantly lower blood levels of DHEA in men who had blocked arteries. In a twelve year study of over 240 men aged 50 to 79 years, scientists found that DHEA levels were inversely correlated with mortality, both from heart disease and from all other causes. A 2009 study of 153 diabetic men with stable CHD (coronary heart disease) found that 77 percent were DHEA-S deficiency, significantly more than in healthy peers. A follow-up study demonstrated that the degree of development of atherosclerosis in 63 heart transplant patients was inversely correlate with DHEA levels. According to a research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 25 mg per day of DHEA improves endothelial function. In a animal-based study; when scientists gave DHEA to rabbits with atherosclerotic arteries, the hormone produced a 50 % reduction in arterial plaques.

Brain Health

The new researches show that DHEA supplement may exert strong neuroprotective properties. Two large studies demonstrated that levels of DHEA-S in elderly people correlated significantly and positively with cognitive function. A study conducted in 2007 demonstrated that DHEA supplement of 150 mg twice daily improved memory recall and mood in healthy young men, particularly increasing activity in the hippocampus. Women with naturally higher levels of the hormone precursor DHEAS were found to have better cognitive function than women with lower levels, according to a study published  of the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”.

In a 2004 research on DHEA’s effects on the human nervous system, researchers found that DHEA both increased the amount of neurons produced by stem cells and increased cell division in the brain. DHEA levels in patients who have Alzheimer’s are much lower than in people who don’t have the disease. Some  evidence indicate a positive effect of DHEA supplement in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In a clinical trial, patients who took 50 mg twice daily for 6 months had significantly better mental performance. Multi-infarct dementia is a form of dementia caused by a series of small strokes.
Patients with deterioration of mental functions resulting from multi-infarct dementia may have lower than normal dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) levels. In a preliminary study, intravenous injection of 200 mg per day of DHEAS for 4 weeks increased DHEAS levels and improved some aspects of mental function and performance of daily activities.

Immune System

Research has shown that low DHEA levels in the blood are associated a decline in immune competence. Oral and subcutaneous DHEA has been observed to protect rodents against the lethality of RNA and DNA viruses, and lethal bacterial infections. A study conducted by  researcher Samuel Yen of the “University of California“; After measuring baseline immune parameters in healthy older men, dr Yen give the men on a program of 50 mg of DHEA per day. After twenty weeks, the men demonstrated important improvement in all markers of immune function, including an average of 45% increases in monocytes, 29 % increases in antibody-making B lymphocytes, 20 % increases in T lymphocyte activation, and 22 to 37% increases in NK (natural killer) cells.

A clinical trial, of healthy, nonsmoking men in their 50s & 60s taking 50 mg of DHEA daily demonstrated rejuvenation of the immune system by increased secretion of the cytokine  IL-2 (InterLeukin-2), which is a strong T-cell growth factor. Elderly individuals usually fail to develop sufficient antibody response to vaccination. A study in elderly people demonstrated that 100 mg a day of DHEA markedly enhanced the antibody response to the influenza vaccine. A new study found a potent inverse correlation between human serum DHEA-S levels and  IL-6 (interleukin 6) levels. High interleukin 6 levels are implicated as a causal factor in many diseases, such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and  atherosclerosis.After studying 120 healthy human participants 15-75 years of age, RH Straub and colleagues concluded: “decreased DHEA serum concentrations during aging or inflammatory diseases will be paralleled by a significant increase in IL-6 production. Thus, we conclude that the decrease in DHEA levels is a deleterious process, in particular during chronic inflammatory diseases.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Low blood levels of the hormone DHEA and the related compound DHEA-sulfate have been correlated  with more severe symptoms in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Suppression of  IL-6  with 200 mg a day of DHEA was shown to be effective against SLE. Scientists at Stanford University gave DHEA to 57 women with lupus. Approximately two-thirds of the women reported some reduction of their symptoms, including reduced frequency and severity of joint pain, rashes, fatigue and headaches. A 12-month, clinical study of 381 women with mild or moderate lupus investigated the effects of DHEA at a dose of 200 mg daily.  While patients in both treatment and placebo groups improved DHEA was more effective, reducing many symptoms of the disease. In another study of 120 women with SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), use of  DHEA at a dose of 200 mg daily significantly decreased symptoms and reduced the frequency of disease flare-ups. A 2007 review of all published studies found that use of DHEA may meaningfully improve quality of life in the short term for patients with lupus.

Ulcerative Colitis

DHEA levels appear to be low in patients with ulcerative colitis. In a study 6 of 13 patients with ulcerative colitis went into remission after taking 200 mg per day of DHEA for 8 weeks.

Crohn’s Disease

DHEA is low in people with Crohn’s Disease. In a clinical trial, 6 of 7 patients with Crohn’s disease went into remission after taking DHEA for 8 weeks.


The normal recommended daily dose range is 10 to 50 mg for women, 25 to 100 mg for men. Women usually need less DHEA than men. Since blood levels of DHEA are highest in the morning, supplement DHEA should be taken in the morning, to follow the body’s natural rhythm. Controlled studies lasting between 6 months and a year at doses ranging from 25 to 200 milligrams daily have shown DHEA to be safe. Your physician can determine whether your DHEA levels are low (less than 180 mg/dl in men and less than 130 mg/dl in women). Individuals under 40 shouldn’t take DHEA unless they have low levels as determined by their physicians. DHEA supplements should be avoided in women and men who have had cancer or who have a potent family history of cancer until further research can establish whether or not it is safe for these people.

Zinc Accelerates Wound Healing

Zinc (Zn) affects many systems in the body.  Zinc is a component of many enzymes, including some that are essential to repair wounds. This trace element protects against UV radiation, enhances wound healing. All body tissues contain zinc; in skin, it is 5 to 6 times more concentrated in the epidermis than the dermis. Topical zinc is commonly used in wound therapy although the useful properties of zinc has just been documented in zinc-deficient people who were given zinc orally.

Wound Healing

Zinc has different activities that may promote debridement and wound healing. Most importantly, this mineral is a cofactor for numerous metalloproteinases, including collagenases that are important in the breakdown of connective tissue collagen. Zinc lack has been associated with delayed wound healing, reduced skin cell production and reduced wound strength.  Zinc levels of less than 100µg/100mL have been linked with impaired wound healing.

Zinc’s positive properties on wound healing were discovered incidentally during animal studies in 1953. Thenceforth, zinc has been found to play a role in metalloenzyme activity as well as in nucleic acid and protein metabolism. In animal-based studies, zinc lack decreased the tensile strength of surgical wounds. This result may be partly understood by noting that 20 percent of the body’s zinc is stored in the skin and is concentrated in the epithelium and related structures. A study reported in the 2006 edition of Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters demonstrated that zinc sped repair and healing of burned skin when taken internally by patients. In a study found the healing time of a surgical wound was reduced by 43% with oral of 50 mg of zinc three times per day, in the form of zinc sulphate.

Skin Ulcers

One study reported that people with pressure ulcers had lower blood levels of iron and zinc than did people without pressure ulcers, and preliminary findings showed zinc supplements could help some types of skin ulcer. In a study of 150 mg zinc per day in patients with skin ulcers due to sickle cell anaemia found that the healing rate was nearly three times faster in the zinc group than in the placebo group after 6 months. Another study of people with skin ulcers due to leprosy found that 50 mg of zinc per day in addition to anti-leprosy drug resulted in complete healing in most patients within six to twelve weeks.

Leg Ulcers

People with chronic leg ulcers have abnormal zinc metabolism and low serum zinc levels and doctors usually treat skin ulcers with zinc supplements. The authors of a systematic review concluded that zinc sulfate might be beneficial for treating leg ulcers in some people who have low serum zinc levels. Supplement with 150 mg of zinc per day improved healing in a  study of elderly people suffering from chronic leg ulcers. Topically applied zinc using zinc-containing bandages has improved amelioration of leg ulcers in studies of both zinc-deficient and elderly people. In study of the efficacy of locally applied zinc oxide on the healing of leg ulcers, 37 geriatric patients were treated with either a gauze compress medicated with zinc oxide or an identical compress without zinc oxide. The therapy was evaluated from ulcer size measurements and the presence or absence of granulation, and ulcer debridement over a period of 8 weeks. The zinc-treated patients responded significantly better than the placebo-treated people. Scientists found that infections and the deterioration of ulcers were less common in zinc oxide treated individuals.

Zinc Copper Imbalance

Zinc can block the absorption of copper. Long-term zinc supplement at these levels should be accompanied by supplements of copper. Long-term zinc supplement requires 1–2 mg of copper per day to prevent copper deficiency. Generally, if 30 mg of oral zinc are taken each day, it should be accompanied by 2 mg of copper.

The Importance of Zinc for Eye Health

Zinc is an necessary trace element for all forms of life. This mineral enables vitamin A to create a pigment called melanin, which protects the eye. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, usually in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

Zinc Eye Benefits

Impaired vision has been associated to zinc lack.  Zinc has been shown to protect against night blindness and macular degeneration.

Night Blindness

Zinc lack may result in abnormal dark adaptation or night blindness. Zinc works in the eye as a partner to vitamin A.  A deficiency of zinc may reduce the activity of retinol dehydrogenase, an enzyme needed to help vitamin A work in the eye. Without zinc, the vitamin A that’s present may not be as efficacious, and night blindness could result. Some doctors suggest 15 to 30 mg of zinc per day to support healthy vision.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is a form of macular disease which affects the eye’s retina. This disease is the leading cause of blindness among elderly individuals in the developed world. Findings from the Beaver Dam Eye Study, reported in 1996, show a link between low zinc intake and risk of macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends 40-80 mg of zinc for individuals with early stage AMD or who are at high risk for progression of the disease. This mineral can block the absorption of copper. The American Optometric Association recommends supplements with 2 mg/day of copper for people taking zinc.

A large, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical study, older participants with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who took a daily dietary supplement with 80 mg zinc, 2 mg copper, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, and 500 mg vitamin C  for approximately 6 years had a lower chance of developing advanced AMD and less vision loss than those who did not take the dietary supplement. In another study, in 74 age-related macular degeneration patients reported that supplement with 50 mg/day of zinc monocysteine for 6 months improved measures of macular function, including visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and photorecovery.

Zinc in the Treatment of Infertility

Zinc is the most widely investigated nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. Zinc contributes to ovulation and fertility in women and semen and testosterone production in men. A lack of zinc is associated with sperm abnormalities. Therefore when trying to conceive may help to maintain sperm count volume and keeping sperm healthy.

Zinc Fertility Benefits

Zinc is necessary to maintain a healthy reproductive system and for efficacious sperm production.  Zinc is essential in the creation of the outer membrane and tail of a sperm. Low levels of zinc in men cause the sperm to ‘clump’, hence, adequate zinc intake is imperative for boosting sperm motility.  This mineral is also responsible for the creation and releasing of enzymes in the head of a sperm that act as a drill into the outer shell of the egg allowing the sperm to pass. It’s usually considered that you need a sperm count of at least 20 million per ml to achieve natural conception. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), to maximise fertility at least 30% need to be of normal shape and form, and 50% should be actively moving.  Several researches have shown that zinc supplement improves both sperm count motility, and the physical characteristics of sperm in some groups of infertile men.

Zinc is an necessary mineral for male sexual function, increasing the amount of the male hormone testosterone and raising sperm count.  Zinc intake of less than 5 mg per day has shown to correlate with reduced semen volume and testosterone levels. Oxidative stress, overproduction of  ROS (reactive oxygen species) in relation to defence mechanisms, is considered to be a important cause of male infertility.  Zinc has antioxidative effects and plays a critical role in scavenging reactive oxygen species.

A study reported in the Feb 2009 edition of  Nutrition Research demonstrated that low zinc levels in semen correlated with lower sperm counts and a higher degree of abnormal sperm morphology. Subfertility affects one in 20 men. Although sexual function is normal, there is a reduced count of dysfunctional spermatozoa. In a study reported in the Asian Journal of Andrology in 2009, scientists examined the effect of zinc on 458 subfertile men. The researchers found that zinc levels in the body were directly associated with sperm count and are necessary for the development of sperm cells. In a study, 100 male participants with low sperm motility received either 57 mg of zinc twice daily or a placebo.  After 3 months, there was important improvement in sperm quality, sperm motility, sperm count, and fertilizing capacity of the sperm. A study reported in the Fertility and Sterility in 2002 demonstrated a positive relationship between folate and zinc, sperm production in infertile men. The men taking the zinc sulfate (66 mg) and folic acid (5 mg) combination improved their sperm count by 74%.

Low levels of zinc have been directly linked to miscarriage in the early stages of a pregnancy, according to “The Centers for Disease Control’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Report”.  Zinc lack has been linked to an increase in preterm births. According to the results of a review of 17 studies that involved more than 9000 women and their babies, supplement with zinc helped reduce preterm births. Recent research reveals that healthy eggs need a tremendous amount of zinc to reach maturity and be ready for fertilization. “Understanding zinc’s role may eventually help us measure the quality of an egg and lead to advances in fertility treatment,” says Alison Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University.

Are Zinc Effective in Treating Acne?

Zinc is a mineral that is necessary for growth and development at all stages of life.  Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, growth retardation, hair loss, impaired wound healing, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, eye and skin lesions. Zinc helps heal the skin and plays an important role in preventing the scarring that acne can cause. While topical zinc preparations can provide immediate antibacterial benefits on the skin, zinc is recommended to be taken orally for acne therapy.

Zinc Acne Treatment and Studies

Diverse studies have identified a positive correlation between serum zinc levels and severity of acne. Research findings show that people with acne usually have lower levels of zinc in their blood and skin cells. A study reported in the “International Journal of Dermatology” in 1982 established that zinc levels in acne people were lower than in the general population. The zinc deficiency in acne people has been associated with nutritional deficiency,  decreased absorption, dieting patients, and increased excretion with sweat or feces. The  inflammatory reaction in acne people is another factor decreasing serum zinc levels.

AcneZinc is a trace element necessary for the growing and developing organism and is found in quite high levels in the epidermis of the skin. Some researches demonstrate that the zinc may reduce the effects of acne. Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by typical inflammatory events, including the overproduction of sebum, abnormal desquamation of the sebaceous follicle epithelium, and Propionibacterium acnes proliferation. P. acnes is an anaerobic, Gram-positive skin microbe that colonizes sebaceous glands and pilosebaceous follicles.  This organism is considered to play a important role in the development of acne vulgaris.  Zinc salts have showed their efficacy in inflammatory acne therapy as well as their bacteriostatic effect against P. acnes.

In a study reported in the “British Journal of Dermatology” in 1977 revealed that zinc were equally beneficial as oxytetracycline. In a the study, 20 participants were given 200 mg a day of zinc gluconate for 2 months. At the end of the working period, researchers noted a important reduction in inflammation of the skin. Another study published in the journal “Acta Dermato-Venereologica” in 1989 found that taking zinc sulfate reduced the symptoms of acne. In a study reported in “Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics” in 1992, zinc ions were found to be effective antimicrobial agents even in low concentrations. For this reason, it is possible that topical zinc preparations can effectively kill off the population of acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes on the skin.

A 2-month study of the efficacy of zinc gluconate (30 mg once daily) in 30 people with inflammatory acne demonstrated a decrease in the number of inflammatory lesions after the therapy period, and improved effectiveness of the antibiotic erythromycin among patients with antibiotic-resistant organisms. APC is a novel methionine-based zinc complex with antioxidants that has been used in acne as a supplement. In this study, 48 participants were treated with oral APC thrice a day for three months followed by a four-week therapy-free period. At the end of therapy (week 12), there was a statistically important improvement in the global acne count, which began after 8 weeks. Nearly 79%  of the patients had 80-100% healing.

A double-blind study has been performed to investigate the effect of topical 4% erythromycin/1.2% zinc acetate solution and its vehicle on quantitative bacterial counts of P. acnes and the free fatty acids of the skin surface. The logarithmic counts for propionibacterium acnes in the zinc/erythromycin group demonstrated a important reduction (98%) following 10 weeks of treatment. A important decrease (69%) in the percentage of free fatty acids in the surface lipids was seen at week 4 in the zinc/erythromycin group as compared to 23% in the vehicle control group. There was also a important reduction (69%) in inflammatory lesions shown for the zinc/erythromycin group at week 8 as compared to a 9% decrease in the control group. The latest edition of the “Journal of Drugs in Dermatology” reported the findings of a survey that looked back at all the past  studies of zinc therapy for acne. The conclusion is that there is good evidence that mineral zinc helps acne.  (Zinc has been known to interfere with copper absorption. Therefore 2 mg/day of copper is recommended for individuals supplementing their diet with zinc).