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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor for the sex steroids including estrogen and testosterone. It is primarily produced in the adrenal gland with a small amount secreted by the ovaries. DHEA plays an important role in immune function and stress response. A 2007 study found that DHEA reduced oxidative stress and helped to protect diabetics against the damaging effects of high blood sugar.1
Orally ingested DHEA is converted to its sulfate when passing through intestines and liver. Whereas DHEA levels naturally reach their peak in the early morning hours, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels show no diurnal variation. From a practical point of view, measurement of DHEA-S is preferable to DHEA, as levels are more stable. Blood measurements of DHEA-S have a correlation with risk of death or cardiovascular disease.2
A 2008 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society measured serum DHEA-S in 940 men and women ranging from age 21 to 88, following them from 1978 until 2005. The researchers found that low levels of DHEA-S showed a significant association with shorter life span and that higher levels strongly predicted longevity.3
Fasting is not required for this test. Take all medications as prescribed. If you are supplementing with any hormones, it is important to take them approximately 2 hours prior to having your blood drawn.
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