Science Update

New Review Investigates the Effect of DHEA Supplementation on Biomarkers of Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects more than 30 million individuals. It is a preventable condition that can be reversed through lifestyle changes, proper nutrition, supplements, exercise, and stress management.

 According to a new review published last month in Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, researchers investigated the effects of DHEA supplementation on fasting glucose levels, insulin levels, and the homeostatic model assessment-estimated insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).

DHEA is mainly secreted by the adrenal cortex and is known to effect changes in cardiovascular tissues, immune function, insulin sensitivity, female fertility, central nervous system functions, and anti-inflammatory properties. The production of DHEA is age dependent and decreases with age. This reduction may be involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.

This meta-analysis included 14 studies published between 1998 and 2012 in individuals 18 years of age or older. The treatment duration ranged between 8 weeks to 12 months with a daily dosage of DHEA between 50 mg to 400 mg. The number of participants ranged from a total of 15 to 87. Ten arms with 613 patients described fasting glucose levels as an outcome measure. As a result, there was a significant decrease in fasting glucose levels with DHEA supplementation in doses at 50 mg per day. There were no significant effects on fasting insulin or the HOMA-IR index. In addition, it is important to note that there was a more significant reduction in fasting glucose levels in individuals 60 years of age and older.

Several mechanisms have been proposed regarding the association between DHEA and type 2 diabetes. DHEA increases the glucose uptake in adipocytes and mitigates oxidative stress and the production of advanced glycation end products. It improves endothelial function, reduces insulin resistance, and decreases inflammation.

Several studies have demonstrated an association between low DHEA levels and the development of complications with type 2 diabetes. In addition, DHEA supplementation prevented oxidative stress in diabetic patients given 50 mg per day.

 All chronic conditions are multifactorial, and DHEA levels in older adults should be evaluated and supplemented accordingly. Other nutrients that can support dyslgycemia include alpha lipoic acid, zinc, chromium, taurine, carnosine, inositol, tocotrienols, magnesium, and fish oil.

 By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

 Source: Wang X, Feng H, Fan D, Zou G, Han Y, Liu L. The influence of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on fasting plasma glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index: a systematic review and dose response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2020;55:102583. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102583.