Sexual Health Q&A
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for our overall health. And some experts believe vitamin D deficiency might interfere with a man’s erections.
Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D helps the body process calcium to strengthen bones. It’s also important for nerves, muscles, and the immune system.
The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D can also be found in certain foods, such as fish and fortified cereals. Some people also take vitamin D supplements.
In 2016, the journal Atherosclerosis published a study by American researchers examining the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and erectile dysfunction (ED). The research team collected data from 3,390 men between the ages of 20 and 85. The men were considered to have vitamin D deficiency if their levels were below 20 ng/mL. Almost a quarter of the men had ED.
The scientists determined that the prevalence rates of vitamin D deficiency were 36% for men with ED and 29% for men without ED. Men with ED tended to be older, less active, and in poorer health.
It was unclear why vitamin D deficiency was linked to ED in this way. It’s possible that low levels of vitamin D could lead to damage in the blood vessels of the penis. Such damage could lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which would make it more difficult for blood to flow into the penis for an erection.
Another theory involves nitric oxide, an important element for erections. Vitamin D helps the body make this compound, but if a man is deficient, less nitric oxide can be produced.
More research is needed to determine if increasing vitamin D levels would improve erections for men with ED. In the meantime, men with erection problems are encouraged to see their doctor. Many factors can contribute to ED, and a full checkup can determine the cause and, in turn, the appropriate treatment.
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