How DHEA Supports Healthy Immunity – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 80
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
DHEA is the most abundant circulating hormone in your body. It plays very specific roles in the support of cardiovascular health, maintaining muscle mass, our general sense of wellbeing, supporting a good mood, as well as a healthy immune system!
What is DHEA?
While DHEA is a hormone (a chemical messenger), it is the most abundant of all of the human adrenal steroids that travel throughout the body. DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone and is a hormone that is produced mainly by the adrenal glands. When we think about other adrenal hormones, we may think about cortisol (the stress hormone). When cortisol levels are high, this can actually offset or impact the role of this important hormone. It actually pushes the hormone level down, which is certainly not a good thing.
As we age, our natural production of this hormone in the body begins to decline. It is estimated that by the time we are 70 years old, our DHEA levels have declined by upwards of 75%. This is due to many different factors, including chronic disease states and chronic stress. Restoring by supplementation can be beneficial for many different reasons, as stated above.
Immune Health Benefits
Your immune system is reliant on chemical messengers, such as DHEA, for optimal performance. There are tons of clinical research that shows that it plays a role in our innate immune response. A 2008 study published in the Current Rheumatology Reports Journal looked at the role of DHEA in systemic lupus. Many times, when individuals have autoimmune dysfunction, just like with lupus, their doctors will fail to test their hormone levels, specifically DHEA and Vitamin D levels. Research shows that if these levels are low, this can be a reason as to why people are having exacerbations of an autoimmune condition. In this study, researchers studied the effect of DHEA on the immune cell function. They report, “Numerous reports indicate that DHEA can improve immune cell function by regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.” This hormone was shown to have a significant impact on cytokine production in the immune cells.†
In 1997, The Gerontology Biological Science and Medicine Journal researchers were talking about the activation of immune function, particularly if DHEA supplementation could help boost the immune system. Participants with low levels were given 50mg of a DHEA supplement for 20 weeks. They found that this translated into improved immunity against bacteria, viruses as well as fungal infections.†
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