DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is the most abundant hormone precursor or pro-hormone. DHEA is produced only in humans. Humans produce DHEA in the adrenal glands, ovaries or testicles, and metabolize it in the skin or dermis, the largest organ of the body.
DHEA levels over human lifespan
Humans produce DHEA from birth through childhood and puberty producing ever increasing amounts of DHEA through reproductive prime, when we are at our best. DHEA production by the body continues to about age 25. Then after age 26, men and women alike begin to make less and less each year.
DHEA is converted into many hormones. DHEA is a crucial part in the cascade of carbon chain molecules in human metabolism. From acetate comes cholesterol. Cholesterol may be metabolized to yield pregnenolone. From pregnenolone the body makes some of that into hydroxypregnenolone. Then some of that is converted to either DHEA or progesterone. Then below DHEA in the cascade of human hormone metabolism the body metabolizes some of the DHEA into the estrogenic hormones like estrogen, estradiol, estrone, estriol; and some into androgenic hormones like testosterone, etc. About 50 smaller carbon chain molecules use DHEA as a precursor or base. DHEA is the foundation for some 5o other smaller more specific carbon chain molecules.
Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body. Hormones drive everything in our lives, including cognitive function, visual function, spatial awareness, sleep, sex drive, energy, immune function, cardiovascular function, mood, muscle tone, fat buildup, and more. So, since bodily functions and health are driven by hormones one would want to maintain optimal hormones for as long as we can as we get older. If we could maintain hormone levels of a 25 year old we would naturally stave off many of the conditions of aging. Maintain healthy hormone balance to have better mental function, stronger bones and teeth, softer skin, better immune response, better cardiovascular health and more.