Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when someone struggles to achieve or maintain an erection. Some evidence suggests that certain vitamins may help with ED. However, this may only be true for people with a vitamin deficiency.
Many health conditions can contribute to ED, including:
cardiovascular disease (CVD)
nerve damage, which can occur due to diabetes
anxiety or depression
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that ED is also more likely to occur in older adults, people with obesity, and people who smoke.
In this article, we look at the vitamins that may help with ED. We will also look at other ED remedies.
Can vitamins help with ED?
Studies suggest that there may be links between ED and deficiencies in vitamins D, B9, and B3.
Vitamins and minerals help the body function properly, including the reproductive system. Getting enough vitamins can improve general health. However, there is no firm evidence that specific vitamins can cure ED.
However, there are a few studies that suggest a link between specific vitamin deficiencies and ED. These include:
vitamin B9 (folic acid)
vitamin B3 (niacin)
People with low levels of these nutrients will benefit from getting more of them. The following section looks at what the research says about the connection between certain vitamins and ED.
Vitamins and ED
A 2020 meta-analysis in Nutrientsfound a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and severe ED. Another study of young men with low vitamin D status found that those with a vitamin D deficiency had worse erectile function. This suggests a link between vitamin D deficiency and ED.
However, scientists are not sure what the relationship between this vitamin and ED is. Vitamin D may reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, or stimulate nitric oxide production, which is an important part of the erectile response.
The main source of vitamin D for humans is sunlight. A person can get more vitamin D by regularly exposing their skin to the sun while using an SPF to protect the skin from UV damage. It is also possible to get some vitamin D from foods, such as:
oily fish, such as salmon or sardines
People with vitamin D deficiency who cannot get regular sunlight may benefit from taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, may also play a role in ED. A 2014 study found that many participants with ED also had a folic acid deficiency.
Another 2020 study found that folic acid supplementation may be a useful part of ED treatment, with all 50 participants experiencing some improvement in their symptoms. However, the supplement did not cure ED completely.
Folic acid comes in two forms: a synthetic version that manufacturers add to food products, and folate, which is naturally-occurring and easier for some people to absorb. The following foods are rich in folate:
greens, such as spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli
broccoli and asparagus
citrus fruits and bananas
beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes
A person can also find the synthetic form of vitamin B9 in fortified cereals.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, may also improve erectile function. A 2011 study found that niacin alone could improve symptoms in people with moderate to severe ED. The following foods are rich in vitamin B3:
meat, such as turkey, chicken, pork, and beef
A 2017 review says that vitamin C helps improve blood flow and increase testosterone, both of which are important for sexual function. However, there is no evidence that vitamin C supplements can improve ED.
However, it is a good idea to get an adequate amount of vitamin C every day. Foods that contain vitamin C include:
greens, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower
thyme and parsley
guava and citrus fruits
red and green peppers