Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA is a hormone made by your body and controlled by your adrenal gland. Both female sex hormones, such as estrogen, and male sex hormones, such as testosterone, depend of your body's production of DHEA -- it's a precursor to all sex hormones. It's natural for your levels of DHEA to decrease as you age, starting at about 30 years old. Diseases such as kidney failure, type 2 diabetes and AIDS can limit your body's production of DHEA and certain medications, such as corticosteroids and insulin deplete your stores of DHEA. Fortunately, there are safe supplements and natural ways to increase hormone production.
Take a DHEA supplement. According to MayoClinic.com, the average adult may need between 25 and 250 mg of DHEA, which is available through intravenous injections, capsules or tablets. Because DHEA is a precursor to both male and female sex hormones, it may cause masculinization in women, including facial hair and deepening of the voice. Men may notice an increased sensitivity or growth in the breast. Excessive DHEA may increase your risk of developing hormone-related cancers, such as breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.
Use sublingual testosterone drops. Available by prescription only, sublingual testosterone is made from natural human hormones -- it is not a synthetic hormone. Although testosterone pills are available, there is a risk of liver damage from such concentrated doses of testosterone. Too little testosterone may cause a lack of sexual desire, loss of muscle tone, fatigue, dry skin and hair loss, but too much testosterone may cause negative side effects, such as aggression, accelerated body hair growth and increased sweating.
Increase your zinc intake. If you're producing DHEA, zinc will prevent testosterone from being converted into estrogen. You can eat foods high in zinc, such as oysters, liver, shellfish and salmon, or take a supplement -- between 50 and 100 mg daily. Maintaining a healthy body weight will also lower estrogen production. Your fat cells create an enzyme, aromatase, that converts testosterone into estrogen. In some instances, you don't need to add testosterone, you simply need to change your estrogen-to-testosterone ratio. Simply having less estrogen might result in having more testosterone.
Omega-3 fats, a polyunsaturtated type of fat, is high in testosterone. Eating wild salmon, lake trout and walnuts will increase your omega-3 levels and add zinc to your diet.
Testosterone acts on your liver. Although normal amounts of the hormone are easily processed, excess testosterone can lower good HDL cholesterol and raise bad LDL cholesterol. Always consult your doctor before taking any type of supplement.