Can vitamins and supplements help with erectile dysfunction?
Reviewed by our clinical team
If you’re a man over 40 there’s a good chance you’ve experienced erectile dysfunction (ED) at least once. ED, or impotence, is the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection.
This might be something you experience every now and then, when you’re really tired or you’ve had a lot to drink. Or it might be something that you experience every time you try to have sex. If it’s the latter, and ED is really disrupting your sex life, it’s understandable that you’ll be looking for easy solutions.
You might be tempted to start by trying vitamins and supplements, but there’s very little evidence to back up the effectiveness of these for ED. However, what is true is that vitamins and supplements can help maintain good general health, especially if you have a restricted diet – to learn more, read on.
Which supplements are said to help with ED?
Vitamins and ED
Some people believe that the following vitamins can be taken to combat impotence and improve the quality of your erections:
The studies to back up these claims are limited, and much of the evidence is centred on a connection between vitamin deficiencies and erectile dysfunction (ED). In other words, if you’re otherwise healthy and don’t have a vitamin deficiency you’re very unlikely to see a benefit.
The good news is, it’s generally safe to take these kinds of supplements – and in fact, the NHS recommends taking vitamin D every day during the autumn and winter months. The important thing is to make sure you’re still eating a varied, balanced diet and that you don’t exceed the recommended daily doses.
To find out the recommended doses for these vitamins, check out this guide from the NHS.
CBD and ED
Another supplement that some people believe can help with impotence is cannabidiol (CBD). This is a compound in the cannabis plant that is said to have stress-relieving and pain-relieving effects. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant separately to the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which means you can take it without getting “high”.
Some people believe that CBD is beneficial for ED, while others believe it can make symptoms worse. If there is a positive connection, it’s likely to be related to CBD’s stress-relieving effects – in other words, taking it may help you feel more relaxed and comfortable before you have sex.
CBD is thought to be safe for most people to take, provided it’s obtained from a reputable supplier (e.g. LloydsPharmacy). However, it’s a good idea to check with your GP before you start using it.
Which medical treatments help with ED?
As we’ve seen, there isn’t enough firm proof to suggest that supplements are effective in treating erectile dysfunction.
The good news is there are medical treatments available, including ED tablets like Viagra and Cialis. If your ED is caused by an underlying issue, like a problem with the hormones or the cardiovascular system, you might also be able to get some medication to treat that issue.
Other treatment options include vacuum pumps, and therapy or CBT to get to the psychological roots of the issue. Find out more about therapy for ED here.
Which supplements are good for your general health?
The general advice from the NHS is that if you eat a healthy, varied and balanced diet (like the one set out in the Eatwell Guide) you should get all the nutrients you need from your food. This means you shouldn’t need to take supplements.
One exception is vitamin D. During the autumn and winter months, it’s advised that Brits take 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D every day. This is because our bodies generate most of our vitamin D through sun exposure, and in the winter months the sun isn’t strong enough in the UK for this to happen.
Other than vitamin D, you might need to take supplements if you’re on a restricted diet that cuts out whole food groups. For instance, if you’re vegan, you might benefit from:
- Vitamin B12 supplements
- Calcium supplements
- Iodine supplements
- Selenium supplements
You can get some of these essential nutrients by consuming fortified foods and drinks e.g. calcium-enriched soya milk. To find out more you can read the Vegan Society's Eatwell Guide.
If you think you might have a vitamin deficiency, it’s always a good idea to visit your GP rather than to self-diagnose and simply start taking supplements. There may be an underlying condition, like a problem with the stomach or intestines, that is causing the deficiency and that requires medical attention.
Get help with ED from Online Doctor
If you’re having trouble getting or maintaining erections, visit your GP or use a trusted service like Online Doctor to get advice. We stock a variety of ED tablets and offer a detailed online consultation to help you get the treatment you need.