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DHEA vs. DHA — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 9, 2023
DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, while DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil. Both have distinct roles in human health.
DHEA vs. DHA — What's the Difference?

Difference Between DHEA and DHA


Key Differences

DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal glands in the human body. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, contrasts this by being an essential omega-3 fatty acid primarily sourced from marine life, especially fatty fish.
Though both DHEA and DHA sound similar, they play very different roles in health. DHEA is involved in the synthesis of male and female sex hormones and has been researched for potential anti-aging properties. DHA, conversely, is essential for brain health, visual function, and reducing inflammation.
DHEA levels naturally decrease with age, which has led some to believe in its potential role in anti-aging treatments. DHA, on the other hand, is a crucial component of cell membranes in the eyes and brain, emphasizing its significance in cognitive function and vision.
Both DHEA and DHA are available as supplements, but for different reasons. DHEA supplements are often marketed for anti-aging, increasing energy, and strengthening the immune system. DHA supplements, frequently paired with EPA (another omega-3 fatty acid), are touted for heart health, cognitive function, and eye health.

Comparison Chart


Omega-3 Fatty Acid


Produced by adrenal glands
Found in fish oil

Role in Health

Synthesis of sex hormones
Brain health, visual function, reducing inflammation


Available as anti-aging supplement
Available as heart health supplement

Chemical Structure

Steroid hormone
Polyunsaturated fatty acid

Compare with Definitions


Involved in the production of sex hormones.
DHEA is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen.


An essential omega-3 fatty acid.
Consuming fish regularly ensures adequate DHA intake.


Often researched for anti-aging properties.
Many believe that DHEA supplements can combat age-related issues.


Often paired with EPA in supplements.
Many omega-3 supplements contain both DHA and EPA for optimal health benefits.


A hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
Aging can lead to decreased DHEA levels in the body.


Crucial for brain and visual function.
DHA is a significant component of the brain's cell membranes.


Levels naturally decrease with age.
By age 70, DHEA production might be just 20% of what was produced during youth.


Helps in reducing inflammation.
People with heart issues are often recommended DHA supplements to reduce inflammation.


Available in supplement form.
Some athletes take DHEA supplements to enhance performance.


Sourced primarily from marine life.
Salmon and sardines are rich sources of DHA.


An androgenic steroid hormone secreted largely by the adrenal cortex and found in human urine.


A synthetic preparation of this hormone used as a nutritional supplement.

Common Curiosities

Can I get DHA from vegetarian sources?

While primarily found in fish, DHA can also be obtained from algae-based supplements.

How does DHA support brain health?

DHA is a key component of cell membranes in the brain, supporting cognitive function and development.

Are DHEA and DHA related?

No, DHEA is a hormone, while DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid.

Is it safe to consume DHEA supplements?

It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting DHEA supplements, as there can be side effects.

How often should I consume fish for adequate DHA?

Eating fatty fish twice a week is generally recommended for good DHA intake.

Can DHEA intake affect hormone-sensitive conditions?

Yes, DHEA might act like estrogen in the body, so those with hormone-sensitive conditions should be cautious.

Why is DHEA called an "anti-aging" hormone?

DHEA levels decrease with age, leading to claims about its role in aging and its potential anti-aging benefits.

Why is DHEA present in some sports supplements?

Some believe DHEA can enhance athletic performance, but it's banned in many professional sports.

Can I take both DHEA and DHA supplements together?

While there's no known adverse interaction, always consult a healthcare professional before combining supplements.

Can kids benefit from DHA?

Yes, DHA supports brain development and is beneficial for children.

Is DHA essential for pregnant women?

Yes, DHA supports fetal brain and eye development, making it vital during pregnancy.

How does DHA benefit the heart?

DHA helps reduce inflammation, lower triglycerides, and can support heart health.

Are there any risks associated with high DHA intake?

Excessive DHA intake might lead to bleeding problems or suppress the immune response. Always follow recommended dosages.

How can I boost my body's DHEA levels naturally?

Regular exercise and managing stress can support healthy DHEA levels.

Are DHEA supplements vegan?

DHEA is chemically synthesized, making it vegan. However, check the supplement's fillers or capsules.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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