If you’ve ever heard about dehydroepiandrosterone, chances are, you’ve heard it in relation to its androgen-boosting properties. However, its physiological roles are not limited to being an androgen precursor; DHEA performs numerous other (interesting) functions as well.
Animal studies have identified a stunning array of benefits of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation – stimulation of immunity, cure for pathologies associated with diabetes, atherosclerosis, lupus, cancer and obesity (Webb, Geoghegan, Prough, & Michael Miller, 2006; Ebeling & Koivisto, 1994; Yoneyama, Kamiya, Kawaguchi, & Fujinami, 1997).
Furthermore, dehydroepiandrosterone is often been credited with being able to restore youthfulness and is referred to – in the public domain – as the ‘fountain of youth’ hormone. Not surprising, given that decline of its levels in human adrenal gland correlates well with the pathophysiological changes associated with aging (Webb et al., 2006; Blevins, Coxworth, Herndon, & Hawkes, 2013; Dharia & Parker, Jr., 2004; Parker, Jr. et al., 2000). Consequently, a lot many people self-administer dehydroepiandrosterone in the quest to feel and look young.
Dehydroepiandrosterone may afford similar benefits in humans as well (Ben-Nathan et al., 1992; Lapchak & Araujo, 2001; Robinzon, Michael, Ripp, Winters, & Prough, 2003). However, use of dehydroepiandrosterone is ridden with occurrence of adverse effects. This is so because dehydroepiandrosterone gets converted to androgens and estrogens.
ENTER 7-KETO DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE!
7-Keto dehydroepiandrosterone delivers all the benefits of dehydroepiandrosterone while cutting out all the adverse effects! This is so because, it doesn’t get converted to sex hormones.
7-Keto DHEA and its precursor, DHEA are most often present in bodybuilding and fat-loss supplements. Let us have a look at whether 7-Keto DHEA delivers in practice as much as it promises in theory.
7-Keto dehydroepiandrosterone (7-Keto DHEA) is a metabolite of the ‘precursor hormone’ dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
DHEA, in turn, is steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands (the reticular zone of the adrenal cortex, to be precise) in humans as well as other primates (Webb et al., 2006). Studies have shown that DHEA reduces body fat by stimulating basal metabolic rate (Yoneyama et al., 1997); it does this by inducing enzymes that define your metabolic rate (Davidson et al., 2000; Lardy, Kneer, Wei, Partridge, & Marwah, 1998; Lardy, Kneer, Bellei, & Bobyleva, 1995).
Similarly, 7-keto DHEA also boosts metabolism and causes fat loss; it makes use of the following mechanisms (National Center for Health Statistics, 1999) to cause weight-loss:
Additionally, 7-keto DHEA possesses some indirect effects (WebMD, 2013) which also contribute significantly towards loss of body fat; these indirect actions are:
Doses of 7-Keto DHEA necessary for inducing weight loss have not been defined. Consequently, no one knows what the maximum effective or safe dose of 7-Keto DHEA is!
Needless to say, you may have to believe the manufacturers and go with the directions on the tub. However, if in any doubt, it is always prudent to consult your doctor or pharmacist. Nonetheless, it is better to avoid 7-Keto DHEA when pregnant or breast feeding your baby.
Most adverse effects of DHEA-containing supplements – acne with thickening of skin, development of facial hair in women, elevation of blood cholesterol, etc. – are due to its conversion to sex steroids.
7-Keto DHEA, on the other hand, is not associated with these adverse effects. As stated earlier, 7-Keto DHEA doesn’t get converted to androgens and estrogen. Therefore, it can be safely surmised that the adverse effects seen with DHEA won’t occur with the use of 7-Keto DHEA.
However, there isn’t much scientific evidence to go by and the safety profile of 7-Keto DHEA – especially on use of larger doses for longer durations – has never been defined
Notwithstanding the impressive array of potential benefits of its supplementation, the exact physiological role of 7-Keto DHEA or DHEA has never been defined (Regelson, Loria, & Kalimi, 1994; WebMD, 2013).
Recent research suggests that 7-Keto DHEA may be more effective in obese women than overweight men (WebMD, 2013).
On the other hand, there are those who believe that 7-Keto DHEA or DHEA-containing supplements may not be effective in causing weight-loss. Both, the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine are of the opinion that there is no evidence that these supplements work. In fact, both the reputed institutes suggest that these may even be harmful in the long run.
7-Keto DHEA and DHEA have been called miracle drugs. They play a stunning array of physiological roles in humans. However, their exact roles in human physiology has never been defined. Also, there is a serious gap in the literature when it comes to proving that 7-Keto DHEA causes fat loss. Furthermore, although considered safe, its safety profile has not been defined.
Under these circumstances, we would be hard pressed to suggest the use of 7-Keto DHEA for reducing body weight.
Lardy, H., Kneer, N., Wei, Y., Partridge, B., & Marwah, P. (1998). Ergosteroids. II: Biologically active metabolites and synthetic derivatives of dehydroepiandrosterone. Steroids, 63, 158-165. Online Resource
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