Vitamins for erectile strength
A deficiency of vitamins D, C B3 and B9 is correlated with erection problems. Other supplements have shown promise in improving ED, but it’s a roll of the dice, partly because the supplements are not regulated by the FDA and partly because there is a lack of high-quality evidence regarding their effectiveness.`
If you’ve had less than a great erection, chances are the first visit you had was to Dr. Google. There’s a lot of information about home remedies for erectile dysfunction that claim to give you better erections, help you last longer and improve your sex life. Much of it is hogwash. Let’s see what the science says about vitamins and erection food supplements that can actually improve erections. Don’t forget to always ask for medical advice to your doctor.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) occurs when you can’t get or maintain an erection sufficient for a satisfying sex life. This can include erections that don’t last as long as you want or aren’t as firm as you would like.
Although erectile difficulties can be painful, they are very common – and most sexual dysfunctions are. Many men experience erectile difficulties at some point in their lives. It is estimated that more than 30 million men in the United States suffer from erectile dysfunction (Nunes, 2012).
Vitamins for erectile difficulties
Some vitamin deficiencies can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
A study of 3,400 participants found that men with vitamin D deficiency were 32% more likely to have erectile dysfunction when all other risk factors were controlled (Farag, 2016).
Low vitamin D levels are quite common. Between 2001 and 2006, one-third of the U.S. population had inadequate amounts of vitamin D, according to the Institute of Medicine (Looker, 2011). Your health care provider can check your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.
According to the Institute of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 mcg (600 IU) per day for men and women up to age 70. Men and women over the age of 70 should take 20 mcg (800 IU) per day. However, the Endocrine Society estimates that 37.5 to 50 mcg (1,500 to 2,000 IU) per day may help maintain adequate vitamin D levels in the blood.
We all know that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an important nutrient, but it can also help your erection (Meldrum, 2010). Antioxidants stimulate the production of nitric oxide (NO) and prevent its degradation. Vitamin C promotes blood flow and has direct effects on the production of NO in various body processes. A reasonable dose of vitamin C is 500 to 1,000 mg per day (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). Erectile dysfunction foods rich in vitamin C include vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts and fruits such as oranges and strawberries. One cup of Brussels sprouts provides 124% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C (USDA, 2020), and one cup of orange juice provides 206% (USDA, 2020).
Vitamins B3 and B9
Vitamin B3 (aka niacin) is a commonly used supplement for vascular conditions, and niacin supplements can also help your erection (Ng, 2011).
A 2011 study of 160 men with moderate to severe erectile dysfunction divided the group into 2 to 80 men who received niacin supplements and 80 who received a placebo. The niacin group reported an improvement in their ability to maintain an erection compared to the control group. Niacin is found in foods such as turkey, avocado and peanuts. You can also supplement it with a B vitamin complex.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is also linked to nitric oxide production and erectile response. Some studies show a correlation between folate deficiency and erectile dysfunction (Yang, 2014).
Taking a B-complex supplement may increase your B9 level, or you can eat more folic acid-rich foods, including spinach, milk and orange juice. Your health care provider can do a simple blood test to see if your B9 level is low.
Herbal supplements for ED
Horny goat grass
Horny goat grass is a traditional Chinese medicinal plant that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fatigue and low libido. Some anecdotal reports and animal tests suggest that horny goat grass may help fight erectile difficulties by improving erections. Horny goat grass contains icariin, a substance that is a mild inhibitor of PDE5 (Dell’Agli, 2008). PDE5 inhibition is the mode of action of ED drugs such as Viagra and Cialis. However, studies on icariin have been conducted on animals and in test tubes; horny goat grass may not function in the same way in the human body.
Yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe bark, is a common ingredient in supplements sold as an aphrodisiac or male sexual stimulant. A review of studies conducted in 2015 revealed that seven clinical trials determined that yohimbine was superior to placebo in the treatment of ED (Cui, 2015). However, the researchers noted that the studies did not directly compare yohimbine to PDE5 inhibitors, and as such, it could not be considered a first-line treatment for ED.
Korean ginseng has been touted for years for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In a meta-analysis of 24 controlled trials involving 2,080 men with ED, researchers found that ginseng “significantly improved erectile function” and “may be an effective herbal treatment for ED”, although they cautioned that further studies were needed before this could be definitively stated (Borrelli, 2018).
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is a natural stimulator of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Some studies have shown that taking a DHEA supplement can increase free testosterone levels with exercise (Lui, 2013); others have found no difference (Brown, 1999).
Citrulline and arginine
Citrulline, an amino acid, can cause blood vessels to relax, as does Viagra. It is the precursor of arginine, another amino acid that can widen blood vessels for better blood flow. The effectiveness of arginine supplements is questionable because it can break down too quickly for your body to use, and a deficiency of L-arginine does not usually cause ED. Watermelon is an erectile dysfunction natural treatment that is a rich natural source of citrulline.
Vitamin/Herbal Supplement Considerations for ED
Some things to keep in mind when considering taking vitamins or supplements for ED: Unlike prescription drugs, vitamins and supplements are not approved or regulated by the FDA. So you can’t be absolutely sure of their potency or quality. In addition, many of them do not have sufficient evidence of their effectiveness to really know whether they have an effect or not.
Some vitamins and supplements may affect the health conditions you have or may interact dangerously with the medicines you take by prescription. You should always check with your health care provider before you start taking vitamins or supplements.
Other ED treatments
If a low concentration of testosterone is responsible for your erectile difficulties, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can increase your testosterone levels by injection, a portable patch or a gel applied to the skin.
For some men with ED, the use of a device such as a penis pump, cock ring or, in severe cases, a surgically placed penile implant, has been shown to restore sexual function.
Your erections will be better when you are healthy. Simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can be enough to improve ED.
If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional for medical advice. He or she will help you find the solution that works best for you and avoid bad side effects and may nip any other health problems in the bud before they get worse.