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Vitamins and supplements — such as vitamins D, C, and B9, and ginseng — may help people with erectile dysfunction. However, stress management, exercise, and other lifestyle remedies may be more effective.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Many health conditions can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED), including hormonal disorders, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, and certain medications.

Vitamins and minerals help the body function efficiently. Getting enough nutrients can improve general health. It can also benefit reproductive health. There is no firm evidence that specific vitamins can cure ED, but there may be a link between specific nutrient deficiencies and the condition.

A 2020 review and meta-analysis notes a link between vitamin D deficiency and severe ED.

Research had previously suggested that people with hypogonadism also had low levels of vitamin D. After receiving human chorionic gonadotropin treatment for hypogonadism, their vitamin D levels rose.

Hypogonadism develops when the body does not produce enough sex hormones. This can lead to low sexual desire and difficulty getting an erection.

Another study involving young males with low vitamin D status found that those with a vitamin D deficiency had lower scores for erectile function.

These results suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency and ED.

Vitamin D may reduce oxidative stress, regulate blood pressure, and stimulate nitric oxide production. All of these may contribute to erectile response.

The main source of vitamin D for humans is sunlight. However, prolonged exposure to sunlight without protection can increase the risk of skin cancer. People should seek shade, wear UV protective clothing, and wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Discover the best face sunscreens here.

It is also possible to get vitamin D from certain foods, such as:

  • oily fish, including salmon and sardines
  • mushrooms
  • fortified milk
  • fortified cereal
  • egg yolk
  • beef liver

Some people may need to take vitamin D supplements in order to maintain optimal levels.

Learn about 6 of the best vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin B9, or folate, may also play a role in ED. Research indicates that people with folate deficiency may also have ED.

A 2020 study involving 100 people found that supplementation with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, led to improvements in the severity of ED.

Folic acid comes in two forms: a synthetic version that manufacturers add to food products, and folate, which occurs naturally in foods.

The following foods are rich in folate:

  • beef liver
  • greens, such as spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli
  • avocado
  • asparagus
  • eggs
  • citrus fruits and bananas
  • beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes

People can also take folate in supplement form, and folic acid is present in fortified foods, such as cereals and pasta.

Learn more about the sources and benefits of vitamin B9.

Vitamin B3, or niacin, may also improve erectile function. One older study concludes that niacin alone could improve moderate to severe ED. However, more research is necessary to confirm these findings.

Foods rich in vitamin B3 include:

  • beef liver
  • turkey and chicken breast
  • salmon and tuna
  • peanuts
  • lentils
  • brown rice
  • sunflower seeds

Tribulus terrestris has long played a role in traditional medicine in India and China. It often features in male sexual health products.

Results of animal studies suggest it can:

  • boost erectile function
  • increase sexual behavior
  • possibly increase testosterone levels, although there are no measures to confirm this

It also appears to increase nitric oxide production and boost vasodilation. However, more evidence is needed to show how it works and how effective it is.

A 2017 review notes that vitamin C helps improve blood flow, which is important for sexual function.

However, a 2021 review concludes there is no evidence that vitamin C supplements can improve ED.

Learn about some of the best vitamin C supplements.

While companies market many herbs and supplements as ED remedies, only a few have scientific evidence to show their efficacy.

A 2021 review included data on 587 males with mild to moderate ED. The authors concluded that ginseng may have a small effect on ED compared with a placebo.

A small 2021 study involving 52 participants found that combined supplementation with ginseng and vitamin E improved ED scores over 6 weeks.

Learn whether red ginseng can help with ED.

A 2019 review found evidence that arginine may help with mild to moderate ED compared with a placebo or no treatment. However, 8.3% of the participants experienced side effects.

The authors of a 2020 study concluded that males aged 60 years or older seeking to reduce symptoms of ED may benefit from a combination of tadalafil (Cialis) and L-arginine.

Find out which foods are rich in L-arginine.

The following table compares the supplements in this article on form, size, dosage, and more.

FormList priceSize or countDosageAmount per serving
Nurish by Nature Made Vitamin Dsoftgelsfrom $430 softgels1 softgel per day1,000–5,000 IU of vitamin D
Nature’s Bounty Super B-Complextabletsaround $16150 tablets1 tablet per day400 mcg of folic acid
New Chapter Vitamin B Complextabletsfrom around $2860 or 90 tablets1 tablet per day16 mg of niacin
Pure Encapsulations Vitamin C Liquidliquidaround $414 fl oz5 mL per day1,000 mg of vitamin C
Nature’s Bounty Ginseng Complexcapsulesaround $1375 capsules2 capsules per day400 mg of ginseng
Horbäach L-Arginine 4,000 mgcapletsaround $19120 caplets4 caplets a day4,000 mg of L-arginine

There is some evidence that these vitamins and supplements can help with ED, but more research is necessary to confirm their safety and effectiveness.

It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbal supplements in the same way it regulates medications.

The FDA has also found numerous products online marketed as “natural” ED remedies when, in fact, they contained undisclosed or illegal substances.

It is best for a person to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplements. The doctor will be able to recommend a suitable place to purchase them.

Further resources

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

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These are supplements that people may have to avoid, as there is limited research or they could be harmful.

Herbal Viagra

The FDA advises against using products that claim to promote sexual enhacement. Manufacturers may refer to these as herbal Viagra.

The FDA states that these products may contain ingredients that are not listed on the label. They may cause serious side effects or interact with other medications or supplements that a person is taking.

In fact, back in 2019, the organisation issued a public notification to warn consumers that Herb Viagra, a sexual enhancement product, contains sildenafil, the active ingredient present in Viagra.

Viagra is an approved-prescription drug that helps address ED and may cause interactions in persons who take medications to control their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Horny goat weed

Horny goat weed is a traditional Chinese herb. According to recent research, it may show improvements in people with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and sexual health problems. who have developed ED from nerve injury.

Companies may claim that it cures ED, but there is not enough research that discusses the beneficial uses of Horny goat weed for erectile problems.

General physical and mental health have a significant impact on ED. As such, making lifestyle changes may also benefit a person’s symptoms. These changes could include:

Eating nutritious foods and exercising

A 2019 review notes that people with obesity may have a 40% higher risk of ED.

Reaching or maintaining a moderate body weight by following a balanced diet and getting physical exercise may help reduce the symptoms or progression of ED.

This may also help manage underlying conditions that can contribute to ED, such as diabetes or hypertension.

Relieving stress

According to a 2022 study, chronic stress may cause ED. This may occur because stress reduces blood flow to the penis, reducing the firmness or duration of erections.

The reduction in blood flow may be due to changes in nerve signaling in various pathways relating to erectile response. Therefore, learning to manage and relieve stress may help with ED.

ED itself can also cause stress or anxiety. Someone with persistent worries or a low mood can seek guidance and support from a doctor or therapist.

Stopping smoking

Smoking can damage blood vessels and decrease blood flow.

A 2020 study found that erectile function was directly proportional to participants’ exposure to tobacco smoke and that quitting smoking improved sexual function in males aged 30–60 years.

Receiving acupuncture

A 2019 review suggests that acupuncture at key acupressure points may improve nerve sensitivity and promote blood circulation.

Some people may find it difficult to talk about ED. However, understanding the cause of ED is an important step in finding a treatment or approach that helps.

If an individual has persistent difficulty maintaining an erection, they may wish to ask a doctor about treatment options.

Here are some questions people often ask about supplements for ED.

Can vitamins really help cure ED?

Vitamins can boost overall health, and some vitamins may help improve conditions that cause ED, but they cannot cure ED.

How much vitamin D should a person take if they have ED?

There are no specific dosage recommendations for vitamin D in the treatment of ED.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, males aged 19–70 years need 15 mcg, or 600 international units (IU), of vitamin D per day. This rises to 20 mcg (800 IU) after the age of 70 years.

People should not consume more than 100 mcg (4,000 IU) per day, but doctors may recommend higher doses if levels are low or deficient.

Can too much vitamin D cause ED?

There is no evidence that too much vitamin D increases the risk of ED.

Very high levels of vitamin D can lead to high calcium levels, or hypercalcemia. Possible symptoms include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and kidney stones.

ED is a common condition with a range of possible causes. A person may find that getting enough vitamins and minerals improves their health, but there is no evidence that vitamins can cure ED.

Vitamins B3, B9, and D are important for male sexual health and may help manage ED. Ginseng and L-arginine may also prove effective, but more research is necessary to confirm this.

A person can usually get enough vitamins through safe sun exposure and a balanced diet, but both vitamins and other supplements can help boost levels if a doctor advises this.