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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Erectile Dysfunction, Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, and Nitric Oxide

I’ve been asked what part vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements might play in restoring erectile function and perpetuating a healthy sex life.

The erectile process is complex. There are many things that can go wrong in a man’s body to cause erectile dysfunction, so there’s no silver bullet. However, inasmuch as both of the most popular ED drugs, Viagra and Cialis, operate in the same fashion – though from different angles – I’ll take aim at their target as well.

Arguably, the most important activator of erectile function is Nitric Oxide. This is not the same as nitrous oxide, laughing gas, as used by your dentist. Nitric oxide is produced throughout the body. It relaxes the walls of blood vessels, dilating them, and allows increased blood flow. You can see where this is going, right?

Nitric oxide cannot be taken as a pill or liquid supplement. It’s a gas, and a very unstable gas at that. Each molecule – which consists of a single nitrogen atom bound to a single oxygen atom – breaks down in the body about a second after it is produced. Biological processes occur very rapidly, so that’s not a problem; in that second, nitric oxide does its job. In a healthy individual, nitric oxide is being produced in sufficient quantity in a steady stream, so there’s plenty to do what it’s gotta do.

As we age – this is true for women as well as men – less nitric oxide is produced. In our thirties and forties, the decline in the concentration of nitric oxide has reduced markedly, and continues as we get older. It’s a natural process.

There are a few substances that can increase the concentration of nitric oxide in our tissues.

  • L-arginine. 
The body breaks down this amino acid and produces nitric oxide through an intermediary, citrulline, which can also be taken as a supplement. 
The body produces some arginine, but not enough to sustain you. Academic sources cite that the body does produce enough, but they’re likely presuming that most people eat a healthy diet – one that promotes the production of the full complement of amino acids naturally. We all know that’s just not true.

Supplement your diet with L-arginine, preferably through food sources. It is available from a variety of animals and plants. The ones I’d like to recommend include: chicken and white turkey, halibut, lobster, salmon, and shrimp among the animal donors. Plus, wheat germ, buckwheat, oatmeal, peanuts, pecans, cashews, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, chick peas, and seeds, including pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower are good sources.

  • Folic acid (vitamin B9)
Leafy vegetables are the best food source.

  • Anti-oxidants: garlic and green tea are excellent sources.
The importance of anti-oxidants is less about producing nitric oxide and more about preventing its destruction. Oxidants burn up nitric oxide and drop the level in the blood.

  • Exercise
A daily routine of physical exercise – sex does not count toward your quota – will increase nitric oxide production throughout the body. Increased blood flow demands that vessels be dilated. The body responds by producing more nitric oxide and the increased production increases the body’s ability to produce more even when you’re not exercising.

L-arginine, folic acid and anti-oxidants can also be taken as supplements. They must be taken every day, not just on occasion, or when you’re feeling “down.” And seek out a high-quality supplement. Not all off-the-shelf brands are the same.

Bonus: if you increase the ambient level of nitric oxide in your body, it will reduce your susceptibility to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. More about that another time.

As always, for more about maintaining your erectile muse, and men’s health in general, pick up my book:

2nd Edition updated May 2012 is "NOT just for those with Erectile Dysfunction"

HARD! Maintaining Potency, Eliminating Erectile Dysfunction, and Enjoying Healthy Sex for Life is for all men who want to keep functioning well  throughout their life. This concise and powerful men’s health guide provides a protocol for how to do everything right.

Available at, Apple, and Amazon/Kindle.

Also available in iBooks, Kobo, Sony and all eBook formats for immediate download:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. This may sound very simple, but maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle can be of great help in dealing with erectile dysfunction.

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