Type II 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 effect 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 II diabetes.

This meta-analysis included 14 studies published between 1998 and 2012 in individuals over 18 years of age. 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 ranges from 15 to 87 individuals. 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 over 60 years of age.

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

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

All chronic conditions are multifactorial and DHEA levels should be evaluated and supplemented accordingly in older adults. 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, et al. 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 Oct 3;55:102583.

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