DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone, is a male sex hormone that’s a precursor to testosterone. It’s taken in supplemental form to increase sex drive, improve sports performance, and fight sexual dysfunction.
As one of the few androgens you can buy over the counter, it’s both popular and powerful thanks to these broad areas of use.
If you want to get the benefits of DHEA, you’ll want a top-ranked supplement. Fortunately, our team has researched and reviewed the ten best DHEA brands on the market.
1. Zhou Clarity & Vitality
Zhou Clarity & Vitality is a super-pure moderate dose DHEA supplement that delivers 50 mg of DHEA per capsule.
It’s a good middle ground between extra-strength formulations and lower-dose variants. Additionally, the fact that the only other ingredients are rice flour and cellulose to make up the capsule make this an excellent all-around choice, and our number one pick.
2. Pure Encapsulations DHEA
Pure Encapsulations makes a lower-dose DHEA supplement that’s very straightforward in terms of its supplement design.
If you are looking for a 25 mg DHEA supplement without any unnecessary binders, fillers, or additives, it’s an excellent choice, though not the most effective one if you are looking for a higher dose.
3. Sheer Strength Labs Sheer DHEA
Sheer Strength Labs Sheer DHEA is a high-dose and super-pure DHEA supplement that delivers 100 mg of this androgen in a cellulose capsule along with nothing else, aside from a bit of rice flour to fill out the capsule. It’s an excellent choice if you need a high dosage source of DHEA for better physical and sexual performance.
4. Havasu Nutrition DHEA
Havasu Nutrition DHEA is another moderate dose DHEA supplement. Each capsule has 50 mg of DHEA and the formulation is designed very clean, so it’s good if supplement purity is important to you.
The only people who may not like this supplement are strict vegetarians and vegans, as the capsule is made out of animal-derived gelatin. Aside from that, it’s a strong pick for just about everyone else.
5. aSquared Nutrition DHEA Maximum Strength
aSquared Nutrition DHEA Maximum Strength delivers 100 mg of DHEA per capsule, landing it firmly in the category of high-dosage DHEA sources.
The supplement design is very clean, though the one downside (for some people at least) to this supplement is that the capsules are gelatin-based. If that’s not a problem, this is a great choice for you.
6. We Like Vitamins DHEA
We Like Vitamins DHEA is another high-dose option that’s pretty high-quality. The gelatin-based capsules deliver 100 mg of DHEA each, and the only other ingredient is rice flour.
It’s hard to go wrong with We Like Vitamins DHEA if you want a high dosage DHEA source.
7. Integrative Therapeutics DHEA-5
Integrative Therapeutics DHEA-5 is one of the better low-dosage options of DHEA if you are looking to microdose this supplement, or if you need to fine tune your intake at a higher resolution than larger dose supplements allow.
Though it’s only got 5 mg of DHEA per capsule, the supplement design is pretty clean, making it a good choice for small adjustments in DHEA dosing.
8. Life Extension DHEA
Life Extension DHEA has a lower dosage of 25 mg of DHEA per capsule, and the capsules themselves are a bit bloated with fillers and binders.
Vegans won’t be a fan of this supplement either, as the capsule is gelatin-based, but if all you are after is a low dose DHEA source, it’s still an okay pick.
9. Douglas Laboratories DHEA
Douglas Laboratories DHEA makes a particularly low dose version of DHEA, with only 5 mg of the androgen per capsule.
This gives it niche uses for people who want to fine-tune their DHEA intake, but most people interested in DHEA would be better served with a higher dose supplement.
The capsule design isn’t the cleanest, either, cementing Douglas Laboratories DHEA as a very niche use item.
10. Natrol DHEA Mood & Stress
Natrol DHEA Mood & Stress is a lower-dose DHEA formulation that’s specifically designed for addressing the kinds of mood disturbances that can go along with low levels of androgens.
Each capsule delivers 25 mg of DHEA, but the major turn-off is the presence of a lot of unnecessary additives and fillers. If clean supplement design is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere.
Best DHEA overall: Zhou Clarity & Vitality
Zhou Clarity & Vitality packs a powerful dose of DHEA, at 50 mg per capsule. Its purity and simplicity make it a versatile, all-around pick for boosting androgen levels, increasing energy levels, and improving libido, to name just a few uses. With these strengths, it’s our top overall recommendation.
Best DHEA for older men: Sheer Labs Sheer DHEA
The DHEA formulation from Sheer Labs tops the charts when it comes to potency, at 100 mg per capsule, which makes it a good pick for older men. As testosterone starts to decline with age, augmenting your natural androgens by using a higher dosage is a natural choice.
Best DHEA for women: Pure Encapsulations DHEA
Research on DHEA in women has focused on its benefits for boosting libido and elevating mood, and for these purposes the simple formulation and lower 25 mg dosage of Pure Encapsulations is a great choice. It allows much more flexibility when it comes to honing in on the optimal amount of DHEA for postmenopausal women.
Best DHEA for fertility: Zhou Clarity & Vitality
When it comes to fertility, the solid, simple formulation of Zhou Clarity & Vitality is tough to beat. Not only is its dosage just what you need, but it’s completely free of any extraneous ingredients that could interfere with the DHEA or any of the other supplements you take.
Best DHEA for fatigue: Pure Encapsulations DHEA
If you’re looking for DHEA to boost your energy levels, Pure Encapsulations is a great place to start. Since the dosage is lower, you can start out at a 25 mg dosage and ramp up if you’re not getting the response you want. The micronized formulation is also great because it helps ensure rapid absorption and a rapid alleviation of fatigue.
Best DHEA for boosting testosterone: Zhou Clarity & Vitality
Boosting testosterone is one of the primary use cases of DHEA, so it’s no surprise that our top overall pick is also the best for increasing your T levels. The dosage is solid but not excessive, and it’s great for stacking with other testosterone boosters thanks to its minimalist supplement design.
Who should buy DHEA?
DHEA is safe for most individuals looking to boost testosterone levels and balance out their hormones. It can help support recovery and promote muscle growth, making it ideal for athletes. Professional athletes should not use but DHEA as it is a banned substance.
Pregnant women and children should avoid DHEA as it can alter hormone levels. Persons with chronic disease or mental health issues should also avoid DHEA supplements unless otherwise directed by a medical professional.
How we ranked
One of the most important aspects of a good DHEA supplement is purity. Natrol provides a low dose DHEA supplement that includes a lot of additives, which is why we ranked it last on our list. Pure Encapsulations ranked very high for providing a DHEA supplement that is free of unnecessary binders, fillers, or additives.
Large doses are great for potency but bad for customization. As such, we looked for a balance between a high dose that could be tailored to the individual. Douglas Laboratories DHEA supplement provides a very low dose of DHEA, which can be great for people looking to titrate their dose. However, it is far too low to be considered effective, which is why they ended up near the bottom of our rankings.
We Like Vitamins provides a high dose DHEA supplement, containing 100mg per serving. While convenient, it’s not the best option for smaller people or people just starting out with DHEA. Zhou DHEA is our top pick and provides an excellent middle of the range dosage of 50mg per serving. We found that 50mg is the perfect middle ground that offers both effectiveness and the ability to tailor doses based on an individual’s needs.
While not a deal-breaker, cellulose capsules like Sheer Strength were preferred because they serve a greater percentage of the population. aSquared Nutrition and Life Extension DHEA opted for a gelatin-based capsule, which is why they didn’t rank as high.
DHEA can increase the amount of testosterone in your body. DHEA first entered the public’s eye in the 1990s thanks to some initial research on its anti-aging properties, but soon it was being touted as a supplement for athletic performance.
International sporting bodies quickly added it to their list of performance enhancing substances (a practice which continues to today), but unlike other performance enhancers like testosterone or steroids, you can buy DHEA over the counter just fine, making it one of the most popular natural steroid alternatives.
Researchers wondered if the effects of DHEA might be overblown, and decided to test whether DHEA could actually affect the level of testosterone in your body.
A technical report published in the journal Clinical Chemistry by Larry D. Bowers confirmed that DHEA does manipulate your body’s testosterone levels (1).
By using commercially-available DHEA supplements, Bowers was able to show that subjects who took DHEA supplements demonstrated an increase in their ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone level, a change that’s similar to what occurs when you take something that directly boosts your testosterone levels.
This confirms the suspicions that DHEA could be able to help you achieve many of the sexual and physical benefits attributed to testosterone.
DHEA could help treat erectile dysfunction and other sexual dysfunctions in men. Initial evidence for the role of DHEA in sexual health and wellness came from a large population-based study in Massachusetts that uncovered a correlation between low levels of DHEA and an increased risk for erectile dysfunction.
This finding inspired researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria to conduct a clinical trial of DHEA supplementation for treating erectile dysfunction.
Their results were published in the journal Urology (2). In their experiment, they randomly assigned patients with erectile dysfunction to receive either a 50 mg DHEA supplement every day or a placebo.
The researchers followed the subjects for six months, and found that the DHEA supplement was associated with improvements in erectile and sexual function.
Though this experimental trial was a small one, it suggest that DHEA could be a useful treatment for erectile dysfunction and possibly other sexual dysfunctions that men encounter, especially as they get older and their androgen levels decrease.
DHEA may be useful in treating cognitive symptoms of aging and depression. In addition to its physical benefits, DHEA has shown some promise when it comes to addressing mental factors as well.
Most clinical research has focused on people suffering from the various maladies that disproportionately affect older people: cognitive decline, poor mood, and depression.
A study published in the journal Aging Research Reviews by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada examined the state of the evidence on using DHEA to address issues related to aging (3).
The researchers cited numerous studies showing that DHEA could be beneficial in improving psychological well-being and improving symptoms of depression. They recommended further research into the use of DHEA for psychological purposes as well as physical purposes.
Earlier research published in 1999 made headlines for questioning whether DHEA might be a “fountain of youth,” as it connected declines in DHEA levels with many of the maladies of aging (4).
The findings presented in this paper suggested that maintaining DHEA levels might be able to sustain youthful cellular function as the body gets older.
Not all DHEA supplements are equally effective. One report that shed light onto the wide variability in the quality of DHEA supplements on the market was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (5).
The study used analytical chemistry techniques to test the levels of DHEA in 16 different over the counter DHEA supplements. Most of the supplements had within plus or minus 10% of the label stated amount of DHEA, but a few troubling results came back.
First, three supplements had essentially no DHEA in them at all! These were labeled as containing “naturally-occurring DHEA” but did not state the amount of DHEA contained explicitly on the label.
Further, another supplement had over 50% more DHEA than it actually reported on its label.
These results highlight the importance of using a high-quality and top-ranked brand of DHEA, and they especially underscore the importance of only getting products that actually list their DHEA content.
If a product says it contains DHEA, but does not explicitly state the amount, there might be a chance there’s only trace amounts.
In most large clinical trials, the function of DHEA is fairly well-tolerated. Most big studies do not report any significant adverse effects in short-term use.
One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed a group of elderly men and women taking DHEA for two full years and reported no major adverse effects (6).
However, some researchers have raised concerns about increases in insulin resistance after long periods (i.e. many years) of DHEA use, but this is based on studies in postmenopausal women.
A few case reports have noted adverse effects associated with high doses taken over many months. One such study describes a patient who was taking 200 to 300 mg of DHEA per day who went into a manic rage (7).
The patient had a history of bipolar disorder, so the doctors could not definitively prove that DHEA was the cause of the manic episode, but they warned other clinicians of the potential for DHEA to trigger episodes of mania at high doses.
In the scientific literature, the typical dose of DHEA is either 50 or 100 mg per day. This should serve as a good jumping-off point for dosing DHEA if you choose to supplement with it.
Higher doses could cause problems, such as the case report mentioned above, so it’s best not to exceed 100 mg per day.
What’s the difference between DHEA and 7-Keto DHEA? DHEA is the precursor to 7-keto DHEA. While they are very similar, they tend to have different effects. 7-keto DHEA does not influence sex hormones, but is banned in competitions governed by WADA because they can trigger positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs. 7-keto DHEA may also have more psychological effects than DHEA.
Why is DHEA known as a parent hormone? DHEA is known as a parent hormone because it is naturally produced in the body and can convert into specific steroids within the body.
What is DHEA? DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a naturally produced hormone within the body that causes the release of sex hormones in both men and women. Despite the many health claims associated with DHEA, there are no guarantees that you’ll see substantial results when you add DHEA into your daily routine.
Is DHEA an anabolic steroid? DHEA is considered an anabolic steroid by the scientific community, but it doesn’t cause the same results typically associated with anabolic steroids. While it’s known to increase testosterone levels, muscle mass, and strength, it tends to do so in much lower amounts than steroids would. DHEA has minimal impact on the testosterone levels of users and is not proven to increase muscle size, power, strength, or endurance (8).
Is DHEA safe? DHEA is generally perceived as safe because the body produces this hormone on its own. However, there is an increased chance of developing chronic health conditions as a result of over-supplementation. DHEA supplements are also linked to developing some types of cancers.
It can also severely affect hormone levels, mood, mental health, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. If taken as recommended by your doctor, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. In reality, the biggest concern isn’t the safety but the lack of effectiveness.
Why is 7-keto DHEA better than DHEA? 7-keto DHEA tends to be better because it can provide the same benefits as DHEA without the normal hormonal side effects of DHEA.
What are the symptoms of low DHEA? Low DHEA levels can be detrimental to your health as you get older. Though DHEA is most often associated with testosterone levels, there are many effects that women might experience as well. By the age of 30, DHEA levels have already begun to decrease within the body. As time progresses, you’ll likely experience muscle deterioration, diabetes, loss of cognition, memory loss, and symptoms associated with menopause.
Low DHEA levels can potentially intensify the aging process and make you look and feel much older than you are, which is why DHEA can be more beneficial as you continue to age (9).
What are the benefits of taking DHEA? DHEA supplements come with a handful of benefits, including improved libido, weight loss, immune system function, increased bone density, and balanced hormone levels. It is also known to boost testosterone levels and improve athletic performance, although these are less typical results.
Can DHEA raise your blood pressure? Some scientists believe that DHEA does not affect the ability of the heart to function properly, and there should be no cardiovascular concerns. Other medical professionals have noticed that an increase in testosterone levels in the body can severely impact the functioning of the body’s systems.
When DHEA boosts testosterone, it may raise blood pressure and cholesterol in users. Keep in mind that there isn’t any confirmed evidence that DHEA substantially affects testosterone levels, so there shouldn’t be a big concern in terms of heart function.
I’ve heard DHEA is banned in the US, is that true? DHEA was once forbidden for over-the-counter sales in 1985. Since then, DHEA has been approved for retail distribution and is not currently banned in the United States. DHEA is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency because DHEA is linked to the altering of testosterone levels.
When should I take DHEA? In general, DHEA can be taken with or without food, and it’s recommended that you take it before going to bed. Your doctor might recommend splitting your daily DHEA dosage into two or more serving sizes per day, which would mean you take one serving in the morning and one at night.
How long does DHEA take to work? The effectiveness of DHEA supplements will depend on the dosage, how consistent you are with taking it, and what you are looking to achieve from supplementation. The actual timeline for seeing results can range anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
There aren’t many studies analyzing the long-term effects of DHEA, so you should try to limit your DHEA consumption from a few months to a maximum of one year.
Will DHEA help me lose weight? DHEA is said to aid in weight loss by influencing sex hormones that help control body fat and metabolism. Though studies are backing the idea that DHEA helps with weight loss, you likely won’t see any significant results. DHEA is actually more effective in helping you maintain weight rather than lose it.
Is DHEA a good supplement for weightlifters? Though DHEA is a banned substance by most professional sports organizations, it very rarely provides an improvement in sports performance. While it may boost testosterone slightly, it probably won’t contribute to any strength or performance increases.
Can DHEA increase testosterone? DHEA may increase testosterone levels, but science is lacking. One study examined the impact of DHEA on individuals after participating in a HIIT workout. The study determined that there were no significant changes in testosterone levels except in middle-aged men – who saw a subtle increase in testosterone levels (9).
Can DHEA slow aging? DHEA has incredible potential when it comes to slowing the aging process due to the maintenance of your body’s DHEA levels and a slight increase in testosterone levels. This can help you maintain a better physique, reduce body fat, and increase muscle mass, which makes you appear younger.
DHEA can also boost cognitive functioning and help to prevent disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Is DHEA bad for your liver? There aren’t many studies that have analyzed the effects that DHEA can have on the liver, but medical professionals and scientists that suggest avoiding DHEA if you already have liver problems.
When you take DHEA, you’re increasing your risk of developing several types of cancer, one of which is liver cancer. DHEA can also impact the ability of your liver to function properly. You should consult your doctor first if you’re looking to add DHEA into your daily routine, especially if you currently have liver issues, or there’s a family history of liver cancer.
Can DHEA cause anxiety? If you have any type of mental health condition, specifically depression or anxiety, you should avoid taking DHEA until you talk to a mental health professional. DHEA directly affects the functioning of the brain and your overall mood, which can cause issues if you have a pre-existing mental health condition.
There is some evidence that DHEA can cause severe mental health side effects in those with a pre-existing condition, including mania, anxiety, mood changes, and even psychosis.
Is DHEA a hormone? As a strong androgen hormone, DHEA has quite a lot of potential applications. People take it as a supplement for everything from treating sexual dysfunctions to improving athletic performance.
It’s a potent hormone in and of itself, and combined with the fact that it serves as a direct precursor to testosterone, you can see why this supplement is so popular and, at times, controversial.
Does DHEA increase estrogen? Consuming DHEA or applying it topically may increase the levels of various steroid hormones. This may cause estrogen levels to rise in the body.
Is 7-Keto DHEA considered a steroid, like DHEA? No, 7-Keto DHEA is not considered a steroid, like DHEA. This is because 7-keto DHEA does not affect steroid-hormones as DHEA does. DHEA is not considered a steroid, but can have steroid-like effects – which is why it’s banned in most professional sports.
Can pregnant women take DHEA? No, pregnant women should not consume DHEA as it effects hormone levels, which can be dangerous for both the fetus and the mother.
Does DHEA cause hair loss? DHEA does not directly cause hair loss. However, it may influence testosterone and DHT, which can expedite hair loss.
Can DHEA affect sleep? Depending on how much DHEA you’re taking, and how your brain works, the sleep effects of DHEA will vary. Some studies have shown that DHEA supplementation can actually increase REM sleep, ultimately improving your quality of sleep.
Other studies have shown that DHEA can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, resulting in insomnia.
Who should not take DHEA? DHEA is considered generally safe for most people. Still, those with any type of severe or chronic physical or mental health condition should not take DHEA until they’ve consulted a healthcare professional. You should also avoid taking DHEA if you have a personal or family history of some types of cancers.
Where can I buy DHEA? DHEA is available for purchase over-the-counter or through a doctor’s prescription. There is also a wide assortment of products available from online retailers like Amazon.
Can DHEA cause cancer? DHEA may increase the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer. This is because it affects the sex hormones in both males and females.
Will taking 7-Keto DHEA result in higher DHEA levels? Consuming 7-keto DHEA should not cause a rise in DHEA levels as it doesn’t influence hormones. 7-keto DHEA should allow you to get the benefits of DHEA, without the negative side effects associated with elevated hormonal levels.
DHEA is a powerful biological hormone that is available over the counter as a supplement, and it has a broad range of functions, affecting everything from cognition and well-being to athletic performance, aging, and sexual health.
The strongest evidence for DHEA appears to be in favor of its use to treat erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems in men. While it does appear to affect blood levels of testosterone ratios, the direct benefits on performance are not clear.
What is clear is that it’s important to get a high-quality DHEA supplement that lists a specific dosage on the label. DHEA is fairly well-tolerated, though some serious side effects have been reported among people taking high doses for several months at a time.
The usual dosage used in scientific studies is between 50 and 100 mg per day, usually taken in one dose.
Though there’s still controversy over the efficacy of DHEA, it might be worth looking into if you want to take advantage of its versatile properties.
For BodyNutrition’s #1 DHEA recommendation, click here.