Researchers from the United States have found a possible connection between vitamin D deficiency and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It also helps the lungs and heart.
Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency and ED have not been widely researched. However, the two conditions share risk factors with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (heart disease marked by atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries), such as high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, and problems with the endothelium – the tissue that lines blood vessels.
This study involved 3,390 men who were participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2001 and 2004, the only years for which data were available on both ED and vitamin D levels. The men ranged in age from 20 to 85 years. None of them had atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and none took medication for ED.
Men were considered to have vitamin D deficiency if their levels were below 20 ng/mL. Erectile dysfunction was determined by the men’s answers on the NHANES questionnaire.
After analyzing the data, the researchers determined that the prevalence rates of vitamin D deficiency were 36% for men with ED and 29% for men without ED.
Men with ED were more likely to be older, in poorer general health, and less active compared to men without ED. They were also more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The connection between ED and vitamin D deficiency might be explained in several ways, the authors wrote. For example, diabetes can lead to problems with the endothelium and atherosclerosis. Both of these conditions can impair blood flow to the penis, leading to poor erections.
Vitamin D also helps with the production of nitric oxide, a compound that allows smooth muscle tissue in the penis to relax so that an erection can form. Low levels of vitamin D might interfere with this process.
It’s possible that vitamin D supplementation might help men with ED. Bringing levels back to normal could resolve endothelial problems and reduce inflammation in men who are deficient. However, more research is needed before this approach can be recommended, the authors noted.
The study was first published online in July in the journal Atherosclerosis.
Farag, Youssef M.K., et al.
“Vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with greater prevalence of erectile dysfunction: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2004”
(Full-text. Published online: July 29, 2016)
Medical News Today
Ware, Megan, RDN LD
“Vitamin D: Health Benefits, Facts and Research”
(Last updated: April 7, 2016)
Renal and Urology News
“Erectile Dysfunction Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency”
(August 11, 2016)