Can supplements and vitamins help erectile dysfunction?

The best supplements to alleviate symptoms of erectile dysfunction.


Low levels of nitric oxide in addition to other factors, may contribute to erectile dysfuction.  Nitric oxide helps the muscles of the penis relax, improving blood flow to the penis, and thereby helping produce an erection. Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors such as  Viagra, stimulate production of nitric oxide. But not everyone wants to take prescription drugs. So, can you combat erectile dysfunction by supplementing with vitamins?

While no single supplement or vitamin is known to treat erectile dysfunction as successfully as PDE-5 inhibitors, certain supplements and food sources have been shown to be beneficial for overall health and blood flow.

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Vitamin D

Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D is important for various bodily functions and counteracts conditions known to contribute to erectile dysfunction such as hypertension, heart failure, metabolic syndrome and coronary artery disease. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction. 

Not only does vitamin D help with erectile function, but it also helps maintain adequate levels of testosterone - the male sexual hormone needed for a healthy libido.

According to the Endocrine Society, adults should take up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Foods that are high in vitamin D include fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks.



Zinc is not only useful in boosting immune function, but it may also promote hormonal balance in men, and help maintain endothelial function (the cells which line the inside of blood vessels).  Zinc deficiency may hamper sperm production.  A study of 100 male patients demonstrated that testosterone and luteinizing hormone (which triggers the production of testosterone in the male testicles) increased with zinc sulfate supplementation at 250mg/day over six weeks.  Foods containing zinc include shellfish, legumes, nuts, dairy and eggs.



Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone.  Levels of the hormone drop by up to 20% by the age of 70 years.  The age-related decline in DHEA correlates with physiological functions and conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which elevate the risk of erecile dysfunction.  Supplementation with DHEA is known to increase nitric oxide levels. The Massachusetts Male Aging Study found that an increase in DHEA levels had a positive effect on men with erectile dysfunction.

However, DHEA is not available as a food source. It can only be purchased as a supplement, and there are serious side effects associated with DHEA supplementation.  These including a rise in androgen levels, which can increase the risk of diabetes and certain hormone-based cancers. Consult your doctor before supplementing with DHEA.


Vitamin B3

There is some evidence to suggest that niacin (vitamin B3) can improve erectile function. When 160 men were randomized to supplementation with niacin (1,500 mg daily for 12 weeks) or a placebo, researchers noticed a significant improvement in their erectile dysfunction scores. Food sources that are high in niacin include avocado, peanuts, whole grains, green peas, and mushrooms.


Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is important for maintaining many bodily functions. B12 deficiency is associated with erectile dysfunction as low levels are associated with an increase in an amino acid known as homocysteine.  High levels of homocysteine in turn, are associated with cardiovascular disease and ED.  Beware as B12 deficincy can be a serious condition and most over-the-counter supplements are not effective.  


This essential amino acid has been shown to boost nitric oxide production and could promote blood flow in patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. In a paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, scientists determined that supplementation with L-arginine in dose ranges of 1,500 to 5,000 mg per day improved erectile dysfunction. Nuts, seeds, oats, and dairy products are known to contain l-arginine.

Evidence suggests that vitamin supplementation could be beneficial for men with weak or moderate erectile dysfunction, but it may not work for those with more severe sexual disorders.



  1. Talib, R, K Khalafalla, & O Canguven, "The role of vitamin D supplementation on erectile function.". in Türk Üroloji Dergisi/Turkish Journal of Urology, 43, 2017, 105-111.
  2. Fallah, A., Mohammad-Hasani, A., & Colagar, A. H. (2018). Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men's Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. Journal of reproduction & infertility, 19(2), 69–81.
  3. Jalali, G, J Roozbeh, A Mohammadzadeh, M Sharifian, M Sagheb, & A Jahromi et al., "Impact of oral zinc therapy on the level of sex hormones in male patients on hemodialysis.". in Renal Failure, 32, 2010, 417-419.
  4. El-Sakka A. I. (2018). Dehydroepiandrosterone and Erectile Function: A Review. The world journal of men's health, 36(3), 183–191. https//
  5. Simoncini T, Mannella P, Fornari L, Varone G, Caruso A, Genazzani AR. Dehydroepiandrosterone modulates endothelial nitric oxide synthesis via direct genomic and nongenomic mechanisms. Endocrinology. 2003;144:3449–3455.
  6. Feldman, H, I Goldstein, D Hatzichristou, R Krane, & J McKinlay, "Impotence and Its Medical and Psychosocial Correlates: Results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study.". in Journal of Urology, 151, 1994, 54-61.
  7. Ng, C, C Lee, A Ho, & V Lee, "Effect of Niacin on Erectile Function in Men Suffering Erectile Dysfunction and Dyslipidemia.". in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 2011, 2883-2893.
  8. Chang Rhim, H, M Kim, Y Park, W Choi, H Park, & H Kim et al., "The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis.". in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16, 2019, 223-234.
  9. Elshahid, A, I Shahein, Y Mohammed, N Ismail, H Zakarria, & S GamalEl Din, "Folic acid supplementation improves erectile function in patients with idiopathic vasculogenic erectile dysfunction by lowering peripheral and penile homocysteine plasma levels: a case?control study.". in Andrology, , 2019.
  10. Attia et al., A. in Role of folic acid deficiency as a possible risk factor for erectile dysfunction, 2019, <> [accessed 2 October 2019].

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