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Ageless Forever Anti-Aging News Blog

DHEA - does it have any beneficial effects beyond testosterone and estrogen action?

  • Published in DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is most known for being a pro-hormone which in the body gets converted to testosterone and estrogen. It is a long held view that DHEA exerts all its effects via conversion to testosterone and estrogen. However, recent studies show that DHEA also has several health promoting non-hormonal actions...

DHEA 101

DHEA is produced mainly by the adrenal cortex, and is rapidly sulfated by sulfotransferases into DHEA-S. DHEA and its sulfated form DHEA-S is the most abundant steroid (pro)hormone circulating in the blood stream.[1] The sulfated from of DHEA has a longer half-life in the blood and its levels remain stable throughout the day, are not altered significantly by the menstrual cycle. When getting a blood test for DHEA, the fraction that is routinely measured is therefore DHEA-S. In response to metabolic demand, DHEA-S is rapidly converted back to DHEA (e.g. is  hydrolyzed to DHEA by sulfatases).

DHEA levels decrease approximately 80% between ages 25 and 75 year.[2, 3] This large decline in DHEA spurred research interest in the possibility that aging related DHEA deficiency may play a role in the deterioration of physiological and metabolic functions with aging, and in the development of chronic diseases.

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The Arginine Paradox - do L-arginine based NO boosters really work?

 

Some of the most popular supplements today are the so called pre-workout nitric oxide (NO) boosters [1, 2]. These contain a panoply of ingredients, but one the main ones is arginine. The rationale goes that L-arginine is a nitric oxide (NO) precursor and NO is a potent vasodilator [3, 4]. Theoretically this would increase blood flow and nutrient/oxygen delivery to exercising muscles and thereby boost performance, as well as recovery. 
 
While it is true that L-arginine supplementation may be beneficial for various clinical populations (see below), studies in healthy adults have not unequivocally supported the marketing hype surrounding arginine supplementation and nitric oxide boosters [1, 5, 6]. Why? Let's take a look under the hood...
 
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Nitrate supplementation – ramp up the less well-known NO pathway to boost performance and health

 

Nitric oxide (NO) boosting “pre-workout” supplements based on L-arginine have been – and still are – quite popular among many fitness enthusiasts and athletes. While it’s true that arginine is a nitric oxide (NO) precursor and NO is a potent vasodilator [1, 2], most studies in healthy adults have not unequivocally supported the marketing hype that arginine supplementation increases muscle blood flow and/or performance [3-5]. In my previous article “The Arginine Paradox” I explained why.
 
In this article I will cover the less well known, albeit highly significant, NO generating process, the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway. This new NO producing pathway holds a lot of promise and supplements that target it will probably replace the current arginine based NO boosters in the near future[6, 7].
 
The nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway is especially interesting in that it not only has performance enhancing effects in healthy folks – as well as in people with risk factors – but also offers cardiovascular protection, regardless of baseline health status [7-10].
 
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Niacin – a.k.a vitamin B3 – the neglected broad spectrum cholesterol drug!

 

Niacin - vitamin B3 - when taken in high dose acts as a powerful cholesterol drug. Niacin is unique among all available cholesterol drugs because it has beneficial effects across the entire lipid/lipoprotein spectrum, including the three components of atherogenic dyslipidemia. 
 
To learn the basics about atherogenic dyslipidemia, see my previous article "Why you need to look beyond your LDL - “bad cholesterol” - level". 
 
Niacin is especially noteworthy because it is the most potent drug available for raising HDL levels.[1, 2] Besides boosting  HDL levels, niacin also markedly lowers triglyceride levels while reducing LDL to a smaller degree.[1]
 
The table below provides an overview of the effects of popular drugs and supplements on blood lipids.[3]
 
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