First For Women

90% of women over 50 are lacking this ‘master hormone’


Deficits in the hormone DHEA impact nearly all women over 50. But most mainstream physicians fail to recognize the problem and its energydrai­ning effects, says Fred Pescatore, M.D. “DHEA has been dubbed the ‘master hormone’ because it’s the most abundant hormone in the body, and it’s used to make other hormones that govern mood and metabolism,” he explains. But DHEA levels decline by 50% from our 20s to our 50s, triggering fatigue, brain fog, low libido and more.

Complicati­ng matters: Chronic stress can lower the adrenals’ ability to produce DHEA, worsening symptoms.

Doctors can diagnose deficits with blood tests. If testing reveals your levels are low, the steps below can lift them.

Engaging in relaxing activities can boost DHEA by 62% since it eases the stress that impedes DHEA production. Dr. Pescatore advises carving out time daily for enjoyable activities like reading, listening to music or crafting. Also smart: getting 10 to 20 minutes of exercise a day. In a University of Massachuse­tts study, folks who did so had DHEA levels 45% higher than their less-active peers.

Supplement­ing with DHEA can correct shortfalls. Dr. Pescatore typically advises taking 5 mg. daily. Try: Pure Encapsulat­ions DHEA 5 mg., Walmart. (Note: DHEA supplement­s can increase estrogen, so ask your doctor before dosing if you have a personal or family history of estrogen-sensitive cancers.)

Diet changes can help. Dr. Pescatore advises eating lean meats, poultry and fish (protein and zinc help the body produce DHEA), as well as magnesiumr­ich foods like leafy greens, beans and nuts daily. In one study, women who increased their intake of the stresseasi­ng mineral increased DHEA levels by 27% in eight weeks.

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