Hormones are a critical part of healthy bodily function. These substances act as messengers throughout the body that trigger reactions, regulate various functions, and much more – learn more about hormones here. Sustaining hormone function and maintaining appropriate levels throughout your life is one of the best methods of supporting long-lasting wellness.
The prohormones DHEA and pregnenolone are pivotal in the production and regulation of multiple important hormones including progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. Having a greater understanding of DHEA and pregnenolone, how they impact your body, and what can be done to support its production and prevalence may lead to sustained and higher quality of wellness.
What to Know About DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone, more commonly known as DHEA, is a critical predecessor to both male and female sex hormones. Furthermore, DHEA promotes the production of natural growth hormones that aid in the building of lean muscles while also combatting accumulation of excess fat.
The body produces DHEA primarily in the adrenals with a smaller amount being made in the brain and men producing a small percentage in the testes.
DHEA is the second most prominent substance found in human blood and is involved in over 150 unique metabolic functions, which speaks to its importance for bodily function.
The Importance of Pregnenolone
Like DHEA, pregnenolone is primarily produced in the adrenals but is also produced at lower quantities in the liver, skin, brain, sex organs, and retinas. Rather than remaining primarily in the bloodstream, pregnenolone is most present in nervous tissue.
Pregnenolone can be converted into a large selection of hormones and steroids including DHEA.
Perhaps pregnenolone’s greatest attribute is its ability to regulate hormone balance. This is in part because it can convert into hormones needed to resolve specific deficiency. However, a person suffering from a conversion issue may benefit more from supplementing with a specific hormone rather than pregnenolone.
The Dangers of Deficiency
As important precursors to critical hormones that impact numerous bodily functions, a DHEA and pregnenolone deficiency can result in illness and a hastening of age-related disease.
As the body ages, production and prevalence of DHEA and pregnenolone naturally decreases. This reduction typically begins around thirty years of age and steadily lowers over time. Between the ages of seventy and eighty, most individuals will only retain or produce approximately 20% of the DHEA and 40% of the pregnenolone they produced at the age of thirty. Other factors such as medications, lack of sleep, and increased stress leading to adrenal fatigue can result in a drop of both DHEA and pregnenolone.
The importance of maintaining a high level of these prohormones is exemplified by multiple studies that show an increase of all-cause mortality among older males suffering from a DHEA deficit. This is not surprising as an estimated 30-50% of all androgens in men are created by the peripheral tissues containing hormone precursors such as DHEA.
Decreased DHEA levels are also associated with common symptoms of aging and other conditions such as insulin resistance, osteoporosis, muscle loss, poor immune function, obesity, and cancer.
Pregnenolone deficiency can result in decreased levels of important hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol. Adrenal stress may result in reduced pregnenolone levels.
Pregnenolone is converted to cortisol during times of high stress resulting in a negative feedback loop and reduced production of DHEA and other important hormones. Therefore, sustained stress can deplete pregnenolone and limit its availability, which also decreases DHEA.
Check out these tip to help you reduce stress!
A Bounty of Benefits
Increasing the intake of DHEA and pregnenolone can help combat symptoms of aging and may provide more immediate benefits.
Because they impact a wide range of systems, the effects of these hormones are broad. The following section is a small collection of the areas positively impacted by these powerful precursor hormones:
- Adrenal fatigue
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cognitive disorders
- Coronary artery disease
- Immune dysfunction
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irregular cholesterol levels
- Low libido and sexual dysfunction
- Mood regulation
- Protein synthesis (combats bone and muscle loss, and improves physical performance)
- System Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Testosterone and estrogen deficiency
- Vaginal atrophy
- Adrenal balance
- Boosted energy
- Greater immune function
- Greater knowledge acquisition
- Improved memory
- Improves hormone balance
- Reduced PMS and menopause symptoms
- Stress management
Getting the Hormones the Body Needs
DHEA and pregnenolone are not found naturally in foods. However, like other hormones, they are created from cholesterol. The body requires an appropriate intake of healthy fats such as ghee, raw butter cod liver oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, pumpkin seed and olive oils to acquire the healthy cholesterol it needs to produce necessary hormones – learn more about the importance of cholesterol here.
Other foods that can help support production of DHEA include cooked or cultured cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Try to avoid eating such foods raw because they may inhibit thyroid function, which plays a critical role in adrenal activity and subsequently DHEA and pregnenolone production.
Alternatively, you can take DHEA and pregnenolone supplements to increase prevalence and availability. Using a high-quality supplement such as HoltraCeuticals’ DHEA/Pregnenolone is an excellent way to meet appropriate levels to maintain hormone balance, metabolic function, energy regulation and combat the symptoms of aging. As with most supplements, it is best to begin dosage at a low rate to ensure that no potential side effects could develop.
People under the age of 30 should not take DHEA or pregnenolone supplements unless specifically instructed by a doctor. Men being treated for prostate cancer and women who are pregnant, or breastfeeding should also avoid taking DHEA. Be sure to research any interactions between DHEA or pregnenolone and any medications you are currently taking before supplementing with these prohormones.
Supporting Your Future
Many believe that the symptoms of aging such as decreased physical ability, slower metabolism, and reduced neurological function are unavoidable. However, by properly supplementing or supporting the body’s natural production of DHEA and pregnenolone, the harsh effects of aging may be reduced or in some cases kept entirely at bay. Knowing the power of these prohormones, their influence on bodily function, and how to achieve more optimized levels helps set you on the path towards a healthier future!
To get a more in depth look at the power and function of both DHEA and pregnenolone, join us as we watch Holtorf Medical Group’s Facebook LIVE event where they will be discussing hormones and how your diet can impact these levels.