Life Extension Magazine®

Woman and man biking being supported by increased DHEA levels

What is DHEA

A study published in December 2020 found that people with low DHEA had an increased risk of heart failure, hospitalization, and cardiac death.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in October 2021. Written by: Chancellor Faloon.

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that has been shown to help:1

Like most hormones, DHEA declines with age.

From a peak in our 20s, DHEA levels fall 80%-90% as we reach our 70s.1

Improved measures of healthy longevity have been reported when DHEA is restored to more youthful ranges for men and women.

Woman and man biking being supported by increased DHEA levels

Research Supporting Men’s Health:

  • In a large-scale study of older men followed for 12 years, higher circulating levels of DHEA-S (a metabolite of DHEA) were associated with a reduced risk of death from any cause by 36%.2
  • In a study of non-diabetic patients followed for an average of four years, men (but not women) with the highest DHEA-S levels had a significantly reduced risk of developing type II diabetes.3

Research Supporting Women’s Health:

  • A pooled analysis of randomized, controlled trials concluded that “DHEA therapy may be an effective approach for preserving bone and muscle mass in women.”4
  • In an observational study of premenopausal women, DHEA use was associated with significantly improved parameters of sexual function in those who had the lowest scores on a sexual function index.5
  • In a study of women with diminished ovarian reserve who were trying to conceive by in vitro fertilization, DHEA intake was associated with increased pregnancy rates.6

Multiple other studies have found benefits that apply equally to men and women.

One clinical trial showed that DHEA intake can improve mood and emotional health by enhancing connectivity between the amygdala (the brain region that involves emotion) and the hippocampus (the region central to memory).7

Another human trial showed that just six months of DHEA use can decrease insulin resistance and pro-inflammatory cytokines in elderly patients.8

An important observational study published in December 2020 found that low DHEA-S levels were associated with an increased risk for subclinical myocardial injury, heart failure hospitalization, and death.9 The study evaluated more than 11,000 men and women, following some for 15 years.

Published studies continue to support the value of maintaining youthful DHEA levels.

Restoring DHEA Levels

A cost-effective way to raise DHEA levels in the blood in older adults is by taking it orally.

For women, an ideal DHEA-S blood level is 275 ug/dL-400 ug/dL.

For men, it’s 350 ug/dL-500 ug/dL.

A DHEA-S blood test can be used to assess levels three to four weeks after starting daily supplementation. The results can provide individual guidance to optimize dosage.

Women often need only 15 mg/day of oral DHEA whereas men usually take 25-50 mg daily.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


  1. Bentley C, Hazeldine J, Greig C, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone: a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment and rehabilitation of the traumatically injured patient. Burns Trauma. 2019;7:26.
  2. Barrett-Connor E, Khaw KT, Yen SS. A prospective study of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, mortality, and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1986 Dec 11;315(24):1519-24.
  3. Veronese N, Trevisan C, De Rui M, et al. Serum Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in Older Men and Women: The Pro.V.A Study. Can J Diabetes. 2016 Apr;40(2):158-63.
  4. Jankowski CM, Wolfe P, Schmiege SJ, et al. Sex-specific effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on bone mineral density and body composition: A pooled analysis of four clinical trials. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2019 Feb;90(2):293-300.
  5. Kushnir VA, Darmon SK, Barad DH, et al. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on sexual function in premenopausal infertile women. Endocrine. 2019 Mar;63(3):632-8.
  6. Chen SN, Tsui KH, Wang PH, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone Supplementation Improves the Outcomes of in vitro Fertilization Cycles in Older Patients With Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:800.
  7. Sripada RK, Marx CE, King AP, et al. DHEA enhances emotion regulation neurocircuits and modulates memory for emotional stimuli. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Aug;38(9):1798-807.
  8. Weiss EP, Villareal DT, Fontana L, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) replacement decreases insulin resistance and lowers inflammatory cytokines in aging humans. Aging (Albany NY). 2011 May;3(5):533-42.
  9. Jia X, Sun C, Tang O, et al. Plasma Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Older Men and Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Dec 1;105(12):e4304-27.