Can DHEA supplementation help with weight loss effectively?
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor to testosterone. In the biochemical pathway to testosterone, it lies two steps away.
DHEA was one of the first prohormones to enter the dietary supplement market after the 1994 DHEA.
It is found in wild yams and in the pollen or seeds of the Austrian pine. DHEA is a precursor to testosterone. It’s predicted will increase testosterone production if added to food.
But, research has shown that DHEA-may has biological activity itself. DHEA exists in two forms within the body, such as…
- Free-DHEA and
- The sulfated form, DHEAS
The exact physiological role of DHEAS and its parent compound DHEA are not entirely known.
But, research is starting to give us Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can be changed into testosterone by using 2 ways. The first is through the conversion of androstenedione, the other through androstenediol.
It is known that DHEA decreases with age. Because aging is associated with an increase in obesity, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis.
Some researchers analyzing the DHEA supplementation interaction with obesity and related physiological issues.
Many animal studies reported that DHEA supplementation can reduce body fat stores even during periods of high fat intake in rats.
In young rodents, DHEA prevents fat deposits. Whereas, in adult rats, supplementation of DHEA decreases body fat.
Furthermore, DHEA supplementation has been reported to lower cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels. It also improves insulin sensitivity in old and obese rats.
After knowing where DHEA falls in the metabolic pathway of testosterone biosynthesis! People will assume the antiobesity effect of DHEA can be caused by an increase in downstream androgen levels.
But, if one literature reviews not clear whether DHEA influences androgen production! This could mean that DHEA is producing the effect itself or through other mechanisms.
It seems that DHEA reduces the body fat storage by…
- boosting the resting metabolic rate
- heat production by futile cycling and/or through improving the flux of fatty acids via ß-oxidation in peroxisomes.
The increase in fatty acid oxidation may be caused by an increase in mitochondrial protein. It may also include an increase in carnitine palmitoyltransferase. An enzyme that shuttles activated fatty acids from the cytosol into the mitochondrial matrix.
Another mechanism is to reduce food intake and create a negative calorie balance.
If you remember, one possible mechanism by which fat loss may be promoted is through a decrease in food intake. Neurotransmitters within the brain control satiety and hunger.
A few researchers have reported that exogenous DHEA can modify levels of serotonin and dopamine. This causing a feeling of fullness or satiety.
Furthermore, the decrease in food intake may be primarily fat intake, based on research in Zucker rats.
One question that has not been answered is… whether the physiological effects described are originating from DHEA or a metabolite of DHEA.
Two metabolites of DHEA are 3a-Hydroxyetiocholanolone and 3ß-hydroxyetiocholanolone.
In one research study! Researchers reported an effective dose of Etiocholanolone 25% of the effective dose for DHEA.
What used to be known as an inert end product of steroid metabolism can have beneficial physiological effects. More research should investigate the actions of this etiocholanolone.
An important physiological difference between rats and humans is the adrenal gland in rats does not produce DHEA. But, rat tissues are able to respond to DHEA when it is supplemented in the animals’ diets.
Because of this important physiological difference, humans may respond differently to DHEA supplementation.
A good positive result in animals has led many researchers to analyze those relationships in humans.
The results show that higher endogenous DHA levels are involving abdominal obesity and insulin resistance in women.
In men, it seems there are no relationships at all.
Research the effects of exogenous DHEA on human body composition has varied results. Positive results cannot always be linked with dose, sex, weight, or age.
Based on the relationship between endogenous DHEA and body fat! Apparently, DHEA may not be a good idea for women, because higher levels of DHEA are associated with abdominal obesity.
Before we really decide whether DHEA supplementation is beneficial or not, we must review the literature.
Clinical Research of DHEA supplementation
One study in a 24-year-old guy using 1600 mg/day for 28 days. The results are a significant reduction in percent body fat (31%) with no change in total body weight.
Another study in young men with a mean age of 26 years old and supplementing DHEA at 1600 mg/day. The results indicated no changes in body weight, fat-free mass, resting metabolic rate, or protein metabolism.
A second study reported DHEA did not affect resting metabolic rates. So, it is difficult to speculate why subjects in the first study experienced a reduction of almost 4 pounds of body fat over a 4-week period.
In older individuals, there appears to be possible dosing and sex effects.
In 1994, Morales and colleagues. reported that a 50-mg dose of DHEA for 6 months did not result in changes in percent body fat or BMI in either men or women.
But, there is continued research by the same group. They reported the older men had a significant reduction in body fat mass after 6 months of DHEA supplementation at 100 mg/day.
Older women experienced a significant increase in body weight, but no change in composition.
And finally, in obese individuals, there does not seem to be an effect of DHEA supplementation.
Adult males who had a mean BMI of 31.5 ± 2.9 kg/m had no change reported in body weight or fat mass following 28 days of supplementation at 1600 mg/day.
Furthermore, neither did obese teenagers who received 80 mg/day for 8 weeks experience any change in body weight, fat mass, and lean body mass.
While research in animals supports the use of DHEA as an antiobesity agent, research in humans does not support the same conclusions.
The differences are more than likely caused by the constant level of DHEA that is always circulating in humans, but not in rats.
Safety and Toxicity
Supplementation of DHEA in men does not seem to pose a health risk. In fact, there is some research that reports that DHEA reduced serum total and LDL cholesterol in men.
In women, DHEA supplementation has been linked to increased androgen levels, decreased HDL and insulin sensitivity.
Two of these studies investigated the effects of DHEA on postmenopausal women.
Recent research has indicated that postmenopausal women have an increased risk for heart disease.
If DHEA is consumed by this female population, it will trigger the risk of heart disease, then reduce HDL and insulin sensitivity. Both are part of a deadly quartet.
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