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In brief: DHEA for depression

March 09, 2014

In brief

DHEA for depression

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is best known as a "natural" substance taken by some major-league ballplayers. It's a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and converted by the body to male and female hormones. Although not, strictly speaking, a dietary ingredient, it's widely available on grocery and pharmacy shelves as a nutritional supplement.

Production of DHEA in the body peaks around age 20 in both sexes and quickly declines until, by age 70, most of us are making hardly any. So the supplements have been promoted as an anti-aging panacea. DHEA has been credited with the capacity to resist infection, bulk up muscles, produce weight gain or weight loss, prevent cancer and heart disease, improve sexual performance, and change the way the body metabolizes and stores fat. The National Institute on Aging rejects these commercial claims.

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