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DHEA may keep you anabolic during stress

Posted in..: Research & Development
By Dwayne Jackson
Sep 2, 2011
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We all get stressed out now and again, but did you know that even acute stress could throw off your anabolic balance? Stress is known to increase the body's catabolic cortisol release and impair anabolic testosterone release. However, it has been recently shown that taking a DHEA supplement might just help keep your hormones in check when subjected to stress.

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Recently, military scientists from the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory in Pensacola Florida studied the effects of 12 days of DHEA supplementation on stress levels in military men undergoing intense survival training. In this randomized and placebo controlled study subjects were given either 50 mg of DHEA or placebo for five days followed by an additional week at 75 mg of DHEA or placebo during stressful field operations. The researchers used saliva samples to test DHEA, testosterone, and cortisol levels during pre-stress (at 2 time-points), mock-captivity stress, and during 24-hr recovery from stress. Participants were also assessed for subjective distress under the same conditions. As expected saliva DHEA levels were elevated throughout the experiment in those who received DHEA supplements compared to those who received the placebo. Surprisingly, DHEA supplementation did not decrease subjective reports of stress. However unlike the placebo group, the DHEA group was protected from the adverse affects of stress on anabolic balance. Specifically, stress led to elevated cortisol and decreased testosterone in the placebo group, whereas the DHEA group had relatively lower cortisol and higher testosterone levels.

Taylor MK, Padilla GA, Stanfill KE, Markham AE, Khosravi JY, Dial Ward MD, Koehler MM. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation during stressful military training: A randomized, controlled, double-blind field study. Stress. 2011 Jul 26. [Epub ahead of print]

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