DHEA is short for dehydroepiandrosterone. It is not a hormone but it is a very important natural prohormone secreted in large amounts by the adrenal glands in humans and other primates, but not in lower species. It is the most abundant prohormone in the human body.
DHEA is produced from cholesterol and is processed in the adrenal glands, the gonads, adipose tissue, brain and in the skin.
DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone is a naturally produced pro-hormone, a base building-block for hormones. DHEA occurs in the body as a result of a cascading molecular synthesis from the very large complex carbon molecule to progressively smaller more specialized ones.
Cholesterol is derived from acetate when certain carbon chains are removed to yield pregnenolone. From pregnenolone the body makes progesterone or 17-hydroxypregnenolone.
DHEA, known as “the mother hormone”, comes from 17-hydroxypregnenolone. Then depending on which carbon chain is next removed, hormones including testosterone, estriol, estrone, and estradiol are all modifications or simpler compounds produced downstream in the body’s hormone metabolism cascade from DHEA. Some 50 different hormones have DHEA as a base.
This is why DHEA known as a pro-hormone; a precursor or base building block from which hormones are made.
Hormones drive many aspects of our lives. How we feel, how we act, mood, energy levels, feeling of well-being, how we interact with others, sex drive, how we sleep, fertility, immune response, cardio-vascular function, neural function.
DHEA is primarily produced by the adrenal glands, and sex organs or gonads and the dermis. Most metabolism of DHEA into other hormones occurs in the dermis.
People make more and more DHEA from birth through puberty into adulthood until about age 25, when we are “in our reproductive prime” as humans – at our best.