Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone precursor, which helps maintain healthy hormone levels and helps support the stress response system. DHEA functions as the counterpart to the stress hormone cortisol. Maintaining healthy DHEA levels is crucial for balancing the catabolic effects of cortisol.
DHEA and its sulfate, DHEAs, are the most abundant steroid hormones in the human body and can be found in blood, saliva, urine and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). DHEA serves as a “buffer” reservoir to be used for the intracellular synthesis of various estrogens and androgens throughout the human body. DHEA production peaks during the second decade of life. Beginning in the early 1930s, DHEA levels typically decline by 10% per decade. In addition to the normal decline associated with aging, other possible causes of a decline in DHEA production include inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, and long-term stress.