Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a popular anti-aging supplement associated with many health benefits. Two studies demonstrate that doses of 50 mg/day can help accelerate abdominal fat loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase lean muscle mass.
In the first placebo-controlled study, investigators examined the effect of DHEA on visceral fat (within the abdomen) and subcutaneous fat (under the skin in 56 men and women aged 65 to 78 years. After six months of supplementation, they found that women lost an average of 10.2% of their visceral fat, while men lost an average of 7.4%. Subcutaneous fat loss averaged about 6% for both groups. DHEA also improved insulin sensitivity in this study. The investigators concluded, “long-term DHEA replacement therapy might reduce the accumulation of abdominal fat and protect against the development of the metabolic/insulin resistance syndrome.”
Since endogenous levels of DHEA decline by about 80% between the ages of 25 and 75 years, which correlates with a decrease in muscle mass and strength, the same research team also studied the effect of DHEA on lean tissue. They found that after 10 months of supplementation, DHEA maximized increases in muscle mass and strength included by four months of weight-training exercise in 56 elderly men and women. The researchers concluded, “DHEA replacement has the additional benefit of enhancing the increases in muscle mass and strength induced by heavy resistance exercise.”
1. JAMA 2004 Nov 10;292 (18):2243-8
2. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;291(5):E1003-8