Unfortunately, as we age the production of this steroid decreases, by age 80 we make as little as 5% of the amount we used to make at age 20. Because of this natural occurrence, DHEA can be used by doctors as a determinant for health and is said to be one of the best biochemical bio-markers for chronologic age. DHEA may even have an effect on brain function in that it may be intimately involved in protecting brain neurons from senility-associated degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease. Not only do neuronal degenerative conditions occur most frequently when DHEA levels are lowest, but brain tissue contains many times more DHEA than is found in the bloodstream. DHEA has even been reported to counteract the thymic destruction due to aging and immuno-suppression caused by corticosteroids. DHEA's effect on the immune system may also have a direct effect on the body's ability to protect itself against diseases such as cancer, and other immuno deficient diseases. Early reports from England [Bulbrook, 1962, 1971] suggested that DHEA was abnormally low in women who developed breast cancer, many years before the diagnosis of the disease. Of the 5000 women followed in the study, 27 developed cancer. Most of the 27 had abnormally low levels of DHEA.
DHEA may have a systemic buffering capacity in that it can help to buffer the system against sudden changes in acidity or alkalinity. That's why when you get older; you're much more vulnerable to the effects of stress, which can make you very acidic. As DHEA declines with age, you are losing the buffer against the stress-related hormones. It's DHEA's buffering action that may help prevent us from aging.
Recently DHEA has been found to be highly significant in preventing vertebral bone density loss in postmenopausal women, suggesting that DHEA may help protect against osteoporosis. It has long been known that androgenic hormones such as those found in men keep bone density thick and helps to prevent bone mass loss. DHEA helps to maintain balance in this, and almost every other respect for both men and women.
So you can see that DHEA is very important as a protective agent as we age. According to the research taking DHEA may just be one of the keys to the fountain of youth!