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If you’ve been googling “what is the best vitamin for erectile dysfunction” or “supplements for ED” and coming up short on answers, there’s a reason for it: the “natural male enhancement” pills that you find online and in gas stations are released by brands that make dubious claims about what their products can do, and often, those claims aren’t backed by a lot of research. In fact, many of them are dangerous.
That said, certain vitamins and supplements (not the stuff you see at the gas station) — like vitamins B3 and D, or supplements like L-arginine, to name a few — may offer some erectile function benefits that are backed up by some science.
So, whether you came here in search of vitamins for erectile strength or supplements for ED, we’re happy to share what research shows about vitamins that help with ED…maybe. We’re going to go through all the vitamins you should look for, and the foods in which you can find them
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You’re probably aware of erectile dysfunction treatments like Viagra®, which work by increasing blood flow to your penis when you’re in the mood for sex. But what about the options available without a prescription?
Well, if you’ve been looking at the “natural male enhancement” stuff on gas station shelves, we have some bad news. As we’ve discussed in our guide to herbal supplements for ED, most non-prescription products for treating ED are, to put it lightly, lacking in scientific evidence (unless they are something specifically approved or authorized by the FDA for erectile dysfunction, like vacuum erectile devices or the topical gel, Eroxon).
That said, as we mentioned above, some research shows that deficiencies of certain vitamins might contribute to erectile dysfunction. If you’re deficient, adding these vitamins to your diet might improve your overall health, including your ability to get and stay erect.
To put things in perspective, here’s the current wisdom:
Numerous factors can play a role in erectile dysfunction, including your cardiovascular health, psychological well-being and your level of interest in sex.
Vitamins B3, B9, C and D have been linked with blood flow, ED or testosterone levels in scientific studies. However, there’s very limited research on the link between vitamins and ED, meaning our understanding of this potential link isn’t very strong right now.
To get reliable relief from ED, it’s best to talk to a licensed ED healthcare provider online to learn how you can improve blood flow to your penis and strengthen your erections.
Depending on your medical history, they may check your blood pressure, cholesterol and other tests that can screen for health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other things that are a risk factor for ED.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk vitamins.
Vitamins are critical for the proper functioning of your body. They play vital roles in the development of your bones and organs. They also power essential biological processes that keep you alive, from your metabolism to the operation and function of your brain.
Because vitamins play such important roles in your health and survival, vitamin deficiencies can have serious negative effects on your well-being. What vitamins are good for erectile dysfunction, then, are the ones you don’t have enough of.
Some potential vitamins for erectile dysfunction include:
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Let’s look into each one to learn more.
Some scientific research suggests that vitamin B3, or niacin, may be helpful for managing erectile dysfunction.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2011 found that adult men with ED and dyslipidemia (abnormal amounts of lipids in the blood) experienced improvements in erectile function after taking niacin for 12 weeks.
Vitamin B3 is an important vitamin for metabolic function. It’s linked to a reduced risk of certain types of cardiovascular disease thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects.
Niacin is widely available as a health supplement. It’s also found in a variety of foods, including:
Red meat, poultry and fish
Bran, yeast and whole-grain cereals
Peanuts, legumes and seeds
Another vitamin that may be linked with erectile dysfunction is vitamin B9, or folic acid.
A study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology analyzed the folic acid levels of men with ED and found that men with ED typically had lower levels of folic acid than healthy, unaffected men.
Interestingly, low levels of vitamin B9 were also linked to premature ejaculation (PE) — another common male sexual performance issue.
A newer study from 2020 noted a more direct link between vitamin B9 and sexual health. In this study, men with ED showed measurable improvements in erectile function after taking a vitamin B9 supplement on a daily basis for three months.
Vitamin B9 plays key roles in the synthesis of DNA and RNA — essential molecules for storing and reading genetic information. It’s also important for the production of healthy red blood cells.
You can purchase vitamin B9 as a health supplement, but it’s also found in a wide range of foods, like:
Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus and lettuce
Meats, including liver
Fish and other seafood
Peanuts, sunflower seeds and beans
Milk and other dairy products
Folic acid is also commonly added to many breads, cereals, pastas and other grain products in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for our bodies. When it comes to erectile health, research suggests that it might play a role in certain biochemical pathways that allow you to get and stay hard during sex.
For example, a review published in the journal Fertility and Sterility noted that vitamin C is one of several vitamins and minerals that support the biochemical pathway that leads to the release of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide, or NO, is generally viewed as the principal agent responsible for relaxing the tissues inside your penis and allowing blood to flow in and create an erection.
Beyond its potential role in your sexual health, vitamin C plays a key role in the biosynthesis of several neurotransmitters, as well as important structural proteins — like collagen, for example.
It’s also essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, absorbing iron and promoting proper wound healing.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
Citrus fruits, such as orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime
Other fresh fruits, including kiwifruit, guava and papaya
Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries
Red peppers, green peppers, broccoli and other vegetables
Many fruit and vegetable juices also contain plenty of vitamin C. You can also find it in most multivitamin supplements.
Although research into the effects of vitamin D on sexual performance is limited, some studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to erectile dysfunction.
A small study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found that men with vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency had lower levels of erectile function than men with normal vitamin D levels.
However, it’s also worth noting that this study only investigated sexual function and depression symptoms in young men with low vitamin D status.
A meta-analysis from 2020 also found that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with severe forms of erectile dysfunction.
According to a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, around 24 percent of people in the United States have low vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels are even more common in Canada and Europe.
Your skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, and it doesn’t take much to maintain healthy levels. Most people will be able to produce enough vitamin D to stay healthy with natural sun exposure from going for a daily walk or running errands.
If you live in an area with limited sunlight or prefer not to spend too much time outdoors, you can also take in vitamin D from food or vitamin D supplementation.
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
Fish, including salmon, trout, tuna, sardines and many fish oils
Cheese, milk and other dairy products
Red meat and poultry
Soy, almond and oat milks
Apples, bananas and other fruits
Rice, lentils, sunflower seeds and almonds
Broccoli, carrots and other vegetables
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Research on other supplements for ED is often inconsistent or not very strong. Some men might see an effect, many might not.
ED supplements that may produce improvements in erectile function and sexual health include:
L-arginine. This amino acid plays a key role in the production of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that relaxes your blood vessels and promotes healthy blood flow.
Just like with vitamins, it’s important to keep in mind that supplements aren’t subject to clinical trials like medications. This means that there’s a lot that we don’t know about them, including the safety and effectiveness of using them as ED treatments.
You can learn more about erectile dysfunction supplements in our guide to herbal supplements for ED.
None of the “vitamins for erection health” listed above — or anything else you can find in a multivitamin — are proven, evidence-based treatments for erectile dysfunction.
Currently, among the most effective options for treating ED are FDA-approved medications called PDE5 inhibitors. These treatments work by dilating the arteries that supply your penis, allowing for better blood flow to your erectile tissues.
Unlike vitamins and natural remedies, they’re subject to large-scale clinical trials before they go onto pharmacy shelves, meaning we know that they’re safe and effective for most men.
If you find it difficult to get or maintain an erection, consider one of the following medications:
Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil provides relief from ED for four to five hours.
Avanafil. Sold as Stendra®, avanafil is a newer treatment that provides relief from ED for up to six hours, with a lower risk of side effects than other oral ED medications.
Chewable ED medications. These fast-acting chewable mints include ingredients like sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil to help you get and stay hard during sex.
Although research is limited, some studies have shown a link between ED and certain vitamin deficiencies.
If you’re deficient in vitamins B3 (niacin), B9, C or D, increasing your consumption might improve your overall health, and maybe your ED symptoms. However, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind before turning to vitamins as a “proven” ED treatment:
Vitamins like B3, B9, C and D are important for your overall health and sexual health, and may help in the management of ED. More research is needed to determine whether natural supplements containing L-arginine, ginseng and others are as effective as supplement makers claim.
It isn’t clear if these vitamins help with erections and sexual function if you don’t have a vitamin deficiency. In other words, if you’re healthy, taking extra vitamin C may not have any impact on your performance in the bedroom.
More isn’t always better when it comes to vitamins. Certain vitamins are toxic when consumed in excess, meaning you shouldn’t exceed the recommended intake if you choose to use a vitamin supplement.
Vitamins aren’t a replacement for FDA-approved ED medication, or for healthy, natural habits and lifestyle changes that can make maintaining an erection easier.
Interested in treating ED? You can learn more about your options and, if appropriate, access medication by taking part in an online erectile dysfunction consultation.
You can also find out more about the most effective options for treating ED and having better sex in our full guide to the most common ED treatments. Or you can check out this blog on whether essential oils for erectile dysfunction are effective.
Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!
Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years in digital health focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show and Sharecare and has served on the Medical Expert Board of Eat This, Not That!.
Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.
Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs.
In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information
Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.
Bachelor of Arts, Egyptian and Ancient Western Asian Archaeology. Brown University |
Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist. Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs
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