DHEA, a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands and brain, is one of the most plentiful hormones in the body. Levels of DHEA decline with age; a 70-year-old produces about 10 percent of the DHEA levels produced by a 20-year-old.

First identified in 1934, DHEA is produced in greater quantities than other adrenal steroids. Since DHEA can be converted into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone, scientists assumed DHEA was merely a reservoir the body could draw on to produce other hormones. However, research suggests that DHEA has specific physiologic functions.

About DHEADHEA naturally increases serotonin, which tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat and inhibits the conversion of glucose into fat. DHEA also protects against arteriosclerosis and lowers insulin. Animal studies have shown that DHEA assists in the prevention of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and even the graying of hair. In humans, DHEA is gaining ground as a hormone that improves one’s sense of well-being, relieves fatigue, fights depression, and plays a role in the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

DHEA, like many of our other hormones, is not immune to the damaging effects of manufactured fats. Symptoms of DHEA deficiency include fatigue, anxiety, depression, low sexual desire, and lack of sexual satisfaction.

Adequate levels of DHEA are linked to longevity.