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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Dhea As A Neurosteroid, Actions Of Dhea, Marketing, Side Effects

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is one of the androgens secreted by the adrenal cortex. An androgen is a hormone that stimulates masculine characteristics and is present in both males and females. The adrenal glands are small structures located at the tops of the kidneys. The adrenal medulla is the central portion of the adrenal gland and the adrenal cortex is the outer portion. The adrenal glands produce hormones that are involved in metabolism and stress reactions. These hormones are all produced from cholesterol. Three types of hormones are synthesized by the adrenal glands, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and sex hormone precursors. DHEA is one of the sex hormone precursors, which means it is eventually converted into the male sex hormone testosterone.

DHEA, along with its derivative dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are the most abundant steroids produced by the adrenal glands. Despite the high concentrations of DHEA in both the blood and the brain, no receptors have been found for the hormone and scientists have not determined its function in the body. The only scientifically proven fate of DHEA in the body is that it is eventually converted into the sex hormones. Many scientists have reported numerous beneficial effects of DHEA on the body. This hormone is marketed as a "wonder drug" that can be used to boost immune function, metabolism, endocrine function, as well as neurological functions. These claims are the results of recent studies involving DHEA supplementation and are quite preliminary. It is unknown whether these effects are directly due to the DHEA, or if they are the result of one of the metabolites of the hormone. In other words, the action of DHEA in the body is unknown.

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