Optimal Result: 106 - 300 pg/mL.

DHEA Is a testosterone precursor shown to have direct effects on the immune system independent of testosterone. DHEA and its sulfated form, DHEAS, are produced predominately by the adrenal glands. Youthful levels are at the high end of the range; levels decrease with age and are usually at the lower end of normal in healthy middleaged individuals. 

The normal DHEA concentration alters significantly with age, gender and time of the day.

During the day, DHEA values have the highest level in the morning and decrease over the day to the lowest level during night time. This pattern is somewhat similar to Cortisol. For this reason clear indication about the reference values is of utmost importance.

  Morning Evening
  Age n 5%-95% percentile Median 5%-95% percentile Median
[pg/mL] [pg/mL] [pg/mL] [pg/mL]

Females

14-39 39 101 - 687 277 46 - 406 130
40-85 31 68 - 397 241 39 - 198 92
14-85 (total) 70 80 - 641 252 38 - 368 110

Males

16-39 45 117 - 747 363 84 - 457 162
40-76 25 58 - 480 264 48 - 262 107
16-76 (total) 70 65 - 737 327 53 - 440

141

References: 

Measuring DHEA-S in saliva: time of day differences and positive correlations between two different types of collection methods [L

What does it mean if your DHEA result is too low?

Lower levels of DHEA are seen with advancing age and have been associated with:

- immune dysregulation

- cardiovascular disease

- arthritis

- osteoporosis

- insomnia 

- declining cognition

- depression

- fatigue

- and decreased libido

General recommendations include overall control of the cortisol response, HPA axis support using nutrition, adaptogens, and behavioral modification.

What does it mean if your DHEA result is too high?

High DHEAS is associated with:

- Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don't respond well to insulin and can't use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.

- PCOS (polycystic ovaries)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

- DHEA supplementation

Use of this supplement might increase levels of androgen and have a steroid effect. DHEA also might increase the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers, including prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. If you have any form of cancer or are at risk of cancer, don't use DHEA.

- Adrenal hyperplasia

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is an inherited condition caused by mutations in genes that code for enzymes involved in making steroid hormones in the adrenal glands. The most common enzyme defect, 21-hydroxylase deficiency, leads to excess amounts of male hormones being produced by the adrenal glands.

- Adrenal tumors

Extremely high levels (>700 or 800 ug/dL) in women are suggestive of a hormone-secreting adrenal tumor.

General recommendations include:

- Work with your medical professional to find the specific root cause of elevated DHEA levels and address it.

- Overall control of the cortisol response,

- HPA axis support using nutrition, adaptogens, and behavioral modification. [See our blog post here]

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Athletes tend to have higher than normal DHEAS levels.

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