Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, affects an estimated 30 million men in the United States. If you’re one of them, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to deal with inconsistent, weak erections that get in the way of having a satisfying sex life.
You might have also spent time looking into natural treatments for erectile dysfunction, including vitamin- and mineral-based “sexual enhancement” supplements.
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.
Vitamin supplements are similar. Although vitamins can offer plenty of benefits for men’s health, most aren’t proven to treat ED or have any major effects on your abilities in bed.
That said, some research shows that deficiencies of certain vitamins might be a contributing factor in erectile dysfunction.
If you’re deficient, adding these vitamins to your diet might improve your overall health, including your ability to get and stay hard.
Below, we’ve dug into the science behind vitamins and ED to explain how certain vitamins may affect your sexual performance.
We’ve also talked about evidence-based, FDA-approved options for treating ED you may want to consider if you often find it difficult to get or maintain an erection.
Numerous factors can play a role in erectile dysfunction, including your cardiovascular health, psychological well-being and your level of interest in sex.
Although vitamins aren’t a proven treatment for erectile dysfunction, research suggests that some vitamin deficiencies might affect your sexual health and contribute to ED.
Vitamins B3, B9, C and D have been linked with blood flow, ED and 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.
Vitamins and minerals 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.
Vitamins that may help improve symptoms of ED in men 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 treating 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. You can find niacin in:
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 — at least, according to some studies.
For example, 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, including:
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 tissue 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 significant amounts of vitamin C. You can also find vitamin C in most multivitamin supplements.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that your body absorbs through UV radiation and from certain foods.
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.
For example, 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 vitamin D deficiency.
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 clinically low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is 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
In addition to vitamins, some dietary supplements might help to improve your erectile function, sexual health and performance in bed.
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 over-the-counter ED treatments 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 and over-the-counter treatments in our guide to herbal supplements for ED.
The more affordable FDA-approved medication that treats Erectile Dysfunction at a quarter of the cost. 🙌
Affordable and helps get the job done. Generic Cialis helps you get and maintain your erections through a simple, daily dosage.
Cialis helps you get and keep stronger erections with a daily or as-needed pill.
If you have a vitamin deficiency, taking a vitamin supplement or increasing your consumption of vitamin-rich foods may help to improve your general health — something that may also improve your sexual function and erections.
However, none of the vitamins listed above — or anything else you can find in a multivitamin — are proven, evidence-based treatments for erectile dysfunction.
Currently, the most effective options for treating ED are FDA-approved medications called PDE5 inhibitors. These treatments work by dilating the veins that supply your penis, allowing for better blood flow to your erectile tissue.
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 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 ED symptoms. However, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind before turning to vitamins as a “proven” ED treatment:
First, 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.
Second, 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.
Finally, 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.