Erectile dysfunction and vitamins: what’s the connection?

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By 2025, 322 million men are expected to be affected by erectile dysfunction worldwide (1).

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is characterized as a symptom, not a condition. While there are many causes of erectile dysfunction, the most common are health problems such as diabetes, sleep disturbances, and heart disease, as well as lifestyle habits such as smoking and abuse. alcohol (2).

You cannot prevent some causes of erectile dysfunction, such as aging. However, research shows that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. For example, maintaining a healthy body weight for you through physical activity has been linked to lower rates of erectile dysfunction (3, 4).

Although erectile dysfunction can be treated with prescription drugs or medical procedures, there has been an increased interest in alternative remedies to improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

In particular, many people may wonder if certain supplements and vitamins are working. This article tells you which supplements and vitamins can help manage erectile dysfunction.

While there is no conclusive data to support taking supplements to treat erectile dysfunction, some research shows that certain vitamins and herbal remedies may improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most studied vitamins in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. It is a steroid hormone that has been linked to sexual function and cardiovascular health.

A 2020 analysis showed a significant association between low vitamin D levels and the severity of erectile dysfunction. This suggests that low levels may worsen symptoms, compared to adequate levels of vitamin D (5).

Another 2016 study of 92 men with type 2 diabetes showed higher rates of erectile dysfunction and worsening symptoms of erectile dysfunction in those with low levels of vitamin D, compared to people with low levels of vitamin D. adequate (6).

Other studies have also shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and ED (seven, 8).

That said, a 2019 analysis showed no significant association between vitamin D deficiency and erectile dysfunction. However, he suggested that symptoms of erectile dysfunction may be increased in people with other chronic conditions (eg, type 2 diabetes, heart disease) and low levels of vitamin D (9).

Vitamin D is believed to be able to support erectile dysfunction by improving blood flow to the penis and supporting the production of male hormones, such as testosterone. While this theory is promising, more research is needed to confirm it (ten, 11).

If you think you or someone you know is suffering from vitamin D deficiency, have your level checked by a healthcare professional. For most people, vitamin D levels can be easily balanced with a vitamin D supplement.

Red ginseng

Red ginseng is commonly referred to as “herbal Viagra” for its ability to help with erectile dysfunction. It is also known as panax ginseng.

Red ginseng contains compounds called ginsenosides, which can help relax smooth muscles in the penis to promote an erection. Additionally, it is believed to improve cardiovascular health, which is commonly associated with erectile dysfunction (12).

A 2018 analysis showed significant improvements in International Erectile Dysfunction Index (IIEF) scores with red ginseng, compared to placebo. There were also significant improvements in erectile function and sexual satisfaction (13).

Another review from 2021 showed minor improvements in erectile dysfunction symptoms, but the authors suggested the effects may not be clinically relevant (14).

That said, more research is needed.

L-arginine

L-arginine is a natural amino acid that increases the production of nitric oxide, which can help stimulate an erection.

A 2019 analysis showed that supplementing 1,500 to 5,000 mg of L-arginine resulted in significant improvements in IIEF scores. The authors concluded that L-arginine may be effective in treating mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (15).

Another 2020 randomized study showed that L-arginine (2,500 mg per day) was just as effective in treating mild and moderate erectile dysfunction as tadalafil (5 mg), a common erectile dysfunction drug. And a combination of the two therapies showed the most improvements (16).

Another study showed similar improvements in erectile dysfunction with L-alanine alone as well as when combined with tadalafil (17).

L-carnitine

L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that supports fat metabolism, sperm production, and cardiovascular health. It can support erectile dysfunction by improving penile blood flow (18).

In particular, propionyl-L-carnitine has been shown to improve erectile dysfunction when combined with other remedies, such as L-arginine and sildenafil (Viagra).

In a study of 54 men with erectile dysfunction, taking a supplement containing propionyl-L-carnitine, L-arginine and niacin (vitamin B3) for 3 months resulted in significant improvements in scores IIEF (19).

Notably, 37% and 46% of subjects reported minor or substantial improvements in ED symptoms, respectively. That said, the study could not attribute the improvement in symptoms to L-carnitine alone (19).

One review showed that non-responders to sildenafil (Viagra) may have low levels of L-carnitine and vitamin D, suggesting that supplementation may improve the effectiveness of drugs (20).

While this shows promise, more clinical research is needed before it can be recommended as a stand-alone remedy.

Tribulus terrestris

Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac. Research on this is mixed, however (21).

In a 2014 randomized, double-blind study, taking Tribestan (Tribulus terrestris, 800 mg daily) for 30 days was not effective in improving IIEF scores compared to placebo (22).

In contrast, a 2017 randomized, double-blind study showed significant improvements in IIEF scores after Tribestan supplementation (Tribulus terrestris, 1500 mg per day) for 12 weeks. The authors suggested that it might be an effective option in treating mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (23).

Another review from 2016 suggested that although research on Tribulus terrestris in the treatment of ED is inconclusive, it may provide modest improvements in symptoms. The authors concluded that more human trials are needed (24).

While these remedies can help reduce erectile dysfunction, it is important to speak with a healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement to make sure that it is right for you and that it will not interact with any medications you are taking. you take.

Summary

Some supplements can support erectile dysfunction, such as vitamin D, red ginseng, L-alanine, L-carnitine and Tribulus terrestris. That said, more research is needed.

Although some causes of erectile dysfunction are not preventable, such as aging or neurological disorders, you or a loved one may be able to improve your sexual health by making certain lifestyle changes.

In particular, these factors contribute to ED (25, 26, 27):

Smoking damages blood vessels throughout the body, reducing their ability to dilate and send blood to the penis to produce an erection (25, 27).

Additionally, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse are all associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases (such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease) that can lead to increased risk. erectile dysfunction (25, 28).

Stress and poor mental health are also associated with ED. Thus, finding positive coping mechanisms and working with a trained mental health professional can be helpful (25, 29).

That said, if you or a loved one is still struggling with erectile dysfunction after making these lifestyle changes, talk to a healthcare professional who specializes in this area. They can review the many treatment options available.

Summary

Certain lifestyle habits are strongly associated with erectile dysfunction, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity and stress. So, making behavioral changes to a healthy lifestyle can reduce your erectile dysfunction symptoms.

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