Cortisol is the major adrenal steroid hormone and is controlled by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. The body’s stress response increases cortisol in order to mobilize energy to manage and resolve the stressor.
Chronic stress can fatigue the adrenal gland which can disrupt its normal diurnal control over cortisol. This disruption can lead to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Typically, cortisol is highest in the morning and drops during the day for most people (Chan 2010). Some people have a “reverse” cortisol rhythm or curve, where the levels are higher at night instead of being highest in the morning. Obtaining a morning and late afternoon cortisol value provides more information regarding an individual’s daily fluctuation in cortisol.
Cortisol can be measured at a single point during the day, or in the morning and again in the afternoon to get a better idea of its fluctuations.
- Reference range:
- AM: 6.2-19.4 μg/dL
- PM: 2.3-11.9 μg/dL
Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (serum)
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) is a precursor for the sex steroids including estrogen and testosterone (Dimitrakakis 2009). DHEA-S and DHEA are primarily produced in the adrenal gland, and DHEA is produced by the ovary and testis (Crawford 2009; Maninger 2009). DHEA-S plays an important role in immune function and stress response (do Vale 2014; Buford 2008). Low DHEA-S levels are associated with a shorter lifespan, while higher levels are a predictor of longevity (Leowattana 2001; Rutkowski 2014).
- Men’s Reference Ranges:
- 20-24 yrs.: 164.3-530.5 µg/dL
- 25-34 yrs.: 138.5-475.2 µg/dL
- 35-44 yrs.: 102.6-416.3 µg/dL
- 45-54 yrs.: 71.6-375.4 µg/dL
- 55-64 yrs.: 48.9-344.2 µg/dL
- 65-74 yrs.: 30.9-295.6 µg/dL
- >74 yrs.: 20.8-226.4 µg/dL
- LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 350-500 µg/dL
- Women’s Reference Ranges:
- 20-24 yrs.: 110.0-431.7 µg/dL
- 25-34 yrs.: 84.8-378.0 µg/dL
- 35-44 yrs.: 57.3-279.2 µg/dL
- 45-54 yrs.: 41.2-243.7 µg/dL
- 55-64 yrs.: 29.4-220.5 µg/dL
- 65-74 yrs.: 20.4-186.6 µg/dL
- >74 yrs.: 13.9-142.8 µg/dL
- LE’s Optimal Range for Women: 275-400 µg/dL