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.
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, including the reproductive system, function efficiently. Getting enough nutrients can improve general 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.
In this article, we look at some vitamins and supplements that may help with ED, and other ED remedies.
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.
A 2020 review and meta-analysisnotes 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
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 these may contribute to erectile response.
- oily fish, including salmon and sardines
- fortified milk
- fortified cereal
- egg yolk
- beef liver
Some people may need to take vitamin D supplements in order to maintain optimal levels.
Vitamin B9, or folate, may also play a role in ED. In a
Folic acid comes in two forms: a synthetic version that manufacturers add to food products, and folate, which occurs naturally in foods.
- beef liver
- greens, such as spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli
- 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 here.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, may also improve erectile function. One
Foods rich in vitamin B3
- beef liver
- turkey and chicken breast
- salmon and tuna
- 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.
- 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 and increase testosterone levels, both of which are important for sexual function.
While companies market many herbs and supplements as ED remedies, only a few have scientific evidence to show their efficacy.
A small 2021 study involving 52 participants found that combined supplementation with ginseng and vitamin E improved ED scores over 6 weeks.
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
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.
A person should discuss with a doctor any supplements before trying them. The doctor will be able to recommend a suitable place to purchase them.
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:
Diet and exercise
A 2019 review notes that people with obesity may have a
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.
According to a 2017 review, 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.
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
Some people may find it difficult to talk about ED. However, understanding the cause of ED is the best way of 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 dose recommendations for ED.
Males aged 19–70 years need
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
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 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 vitamin and other supplements can help boost levels if a doctor advises this.