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The vitamin that helps erectile dysfunction

Published:Wednesday | January 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A new research out of Italy is suggesting that low levels of vitamin D may increase a man's risk of erectile dysfunction. Called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is the only vitamin that is formed in the body by the rays of the sun.

It has long been touted that an adequate supply of vitamin D is necessary for optimum health and to ward off diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. But now researchers are showing its importance in helping men to maintain their erection.

According to the study, the researchers tested 143 men with varying degrees of erectile dysfunction, and they found that nearly half of them were deficient in vitamin D, and only one in five had optimal levels of the nutrient.

Additionally, men with severe cases of erectile dysfunction had vitamin D levels that were about 24 per cent lower than those with mild forms of the condition.

Free radical

Insufficient levels of vitamin D may encourage the production of free radicals called superoxide ions, noted study author Alessandra Barassi, MD, and her research team. These free radicals deplete a person's nitric oxide, a molecule that helps blood vessels function properly. As a result, it makes it difficult for a man to get a firm erection.

"Nitric oxide causes the blood vessels to relax, which increases blood flow and causes an erection under normal circumstances," stated Dr Larry Lipshultz.

Without the necessary amounts of nitric acid, your blood vessels may not relax enough to allow for an erection.

How can men increase their vitamin D intake? There are two recommendations.

One is getting a regular sun bath at least 30 minutes per day. The best source of vitamin D is optimal sun exposure. You don't have to be completely nude, but expose as much skin as possible for better absorption. Exposing the skin to sunlight's UV-B for vitamin D3 production is best obtained between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Men can also take vitamin D supplements. For those with low levels of vitamin D, the study recommends taking supplements to get back to the optimal level of 30 ng/mL or above.

As for men with normal erectile function, research is currently studying whether vitamin D supplementation may act as a preventive measure to delay erectile dysfunction.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com