Vitamins for Erectile Dysfunction

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
Couple in bed

Having trouble with erectile dysfunction (ED)? A vitamin or mineral deficiency may be the culprit. Inadequate nutrition isn't always the cause of ED, but getting recommended amounts of essential vitamins and minerals helps maximize sexual function in men.

Vitamin D for Vasodilation

Vitamin D deficiency is related to erectile dysfunction, according to a 2012 review published in Dermato Endocrinology. Authors of the review suggest vitamin D is necessary for vasodilation (blood vessel widening) and recommend getting plenty of vitamin D through supplements or sunlight exposure to lower your risk for ED. Eating vitamin D-rich foods can help, as well. Aim to consume at least the vitamin D recommended dietary allowance (RDA), which is 15 to 20 micrograms daily. Getting 15 minutes of sunlight in three days weekly also helps do the trick, says MedlinePlus.

Vitamin E for Oxidative Stress

Because vitamin E is an antioxidant, this essential nutrient may help delay the onset of ED in men. A 2012 study published in Life Sciences shows supplementing vitamin E appears to reduce age-associated erectile dysfunction in rats, which could translate to being beneficial for humans, as well. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Andrology confirms antioxidants, such as vitamin E, help improve ED due to oxidative stress, caused by things such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The vitamin E RDA is 15 milligrams per day for adults, so be sure to eat vitamin E-rich foods and take a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin E to lower your risk of ED related to oxidative stress.

Zinc to Improve Testosterone Levels

While more studies are needed examining effects of zinc on ED in men, research shows promising results so far. A 2010 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews says zinc supplementation may help improve testosterone levels in men and could be beneficial for ED treatment. Another study published in 2009 in the Journal of Reproductive Sciences found zinc improves sexual function in male rats. So better to be safe than sorry and eat lots of zinc-rich foods or take a multivitamin supplement containing zinc. The zinc RDA for men is 11 milligrams per day.

Folic Acid for Nitric Oxide Metabolism

Getting plenty of folic acid in your diet daily appears to be crucial for maintaining adequate sexual function. According to a 2014 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology, folic acid deficiency is strongly correlated with sexual dysfunction in men, possibly due to folic acid's effect on nitric oxide metabolism. Loading up on folate-rich foods can help; so can taking a folic acid supplement that meets the RDA, which is 400 micrograms daily for men.

Vitamin C for Vasodilation and Testosterone

Because antioxidants are beneficial for proper sexual function, be sure you're getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet daily. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research says vitamin C supplementation helps boost testosterone levels and improves fertility in male rats exposed to stress. Likewise, a 2010 study in Fertility and Sterility says vitamin C (and other antioxidants) boosts nitric oxide production, which improves vasodilation and erections in men. So, include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods in your diet daily and be sure vitamin C is included in your daily multivitamin supplement. The vitamin C RDA for men is 90 milligrams per day.

Calcium for Nitric Oxide Release

Calcium is involved in the process of getting an erection, according to one 2010 review. The 2010 review published in Fertility and Sterility says calcium is involved in releasing nitric oxide in the body, which is crucial for maximizing sexual function. So add calcium to your daily vitamin and mineral supplement list and eat plenty of calcium-rich foods. The calcium RDA is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams daily for men.

Selenium for Sperm Motility

Selenium's benefits on erectile dysfunction are due to its antioxidant properties. The studies previously mentioned in 2011 in the International Journal of Andrology and in 2010 in Fertility and Sterility both say antioxidants improve or maximize male sexual function. In addition, a 2011 study published in the International Journal of General Medicine says supplementing with selenium plus vitamin E appears to improve semen quality and sperm motility, which is beneficial for fertility in men. Men need at least 55 micrograms of selenium daily, which is the current RDA.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) to Maximize Sexual Health

Getting in an adequate dose of niacin (vitamin B3) daily is a key to maximizing sexual health. A 2011 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found niacin helps improve erectile function in men suffering from high blood cholesterol and moderate to severe ED. Patients in this study received 1,500 milligrams of niacin supplements daily for 12 weeks. Eat a variety of niacin-rich foods and be sure your multivitamin supplement contains vitamin B3. Check with your doctor before taking high doses of niacin from supplements.

Treating ED With Vitamins

Always check with your doctor before taking high doses of vitamin or mineral supplements to prevent or correct ED. More research is needed to determine appropriate nutrient dosages for ED treatment. The best way to maximize sexual health is to eat a variety of healthy foods daily and take a multivitamin supplement that meets RDA requirements for all essential vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins for Erectile Dysfunction