supplements for erectile function
As we discussed, erectile quality depends on the amount of antioxidant protecting nitric oxide (NO) from the damaging effects of oxidation products (oxidative stress). Great antioxidants are listed to the right of this page (halvorsen, 2006). Pycnogenol and chocolate will be highlighted because of their high potency, but berries are other natural sources of very strong antioxidants. Blackberries are the king of berries (having about twice the antioxidant level per weight compared to blueberries.) The spices listed to the right are also very potent per weight, but most recipies do not have much added. Tumeric is used in large amounts in India and is thought to be the reason there is less Alzheimer's in that population.
Based on our research, we recommend the following supplements, and we will give you a brief rationale for each.
· Omega 3 fatty acids: These healthy essential fats increase NO production by your blood vessels, which will help to maximize blood flow to the penis. They also may help to prevent heart attacks and strokes. By helping to stabilize the heart rythm they may help to prevent sudden death (many men with ED have recognized or unrecognized cardiovascular heart disease). We recommend 1,000 to 2,000 mg. per day of EPA/DHA. Be sure that is the amount listed on the back of the bottle - the front commonly lists total fat. Caution: Do not increase omega-3’s without a large increase of antioxidants.
· Folic acid: This B vitamin is a specific co-factor in the production of NO in the body. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400 micrograms. People with an unhealthy diet are commonly deficient. We do not recommend taking more than 400 micrograms long-term, and if you are getting extra folic acid in wheat bread and cereal or if you eat a lot of veggies, we recommend cutting the tablets in two and taking only 200 micrograms per day. There has been some recent concern that excessive folic acid could increase colon cancer.
· Vitamin C, 1,000 - 2,000 mg This antioxidant stimulates NO production. Vitamin C can worsen heartburn, so don’t take it before bedtime.
· L-citrulline: L-citrulline and L-arginine are the raw materials for NO production, but L-arginine is largely broken down before being absorbed by the body. L-citrulline is an important intracellular source of L-arginine, and what is inside the cell is what counts for NO production. Two grams of L-citrulline will increase L-arginine levels more than 3 grams of L-arginine (Schwedhelm, 2008). Natural sources of L-citrulline are melons, particularly watermelon, but you could not eat enough to influence your levels. The average intake of L-arginine is 5 gm, and the best sources are chicken and turkey.These supplements are not clearly of benefit for somone with a normal intake of protein, but are logical (2 gm of L-citrulline or 3-4 gm of L-arginine) for someone who's protein intake is low, as is often the case for vegetarians.
· Pycnogenol: We recommend increasing your intake of natural antioxidants such as pomegranate, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, chocolate, green tea, coffee, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Also, pycnogenol is a potent antioxidant that helps decrease the breakdown of NO and has been shown to be quite effective for stimulating NO and improving erectile function (Stanislavov, 2008). It contains proanthocyanidins similar to the principle antioxidants in blueberries and also found in cocoa, green tea and red wine. The dose that was shown to increase erectile function is 80 mg. You could take 60-120 mg of pycnogenol per day depending on your intake of natural antioxidants and vitamin C.
· Green tea: Green tea contains lots of antioxidants. If you are bothered by the caffeine, you can take decaf green tea. The decaffeination process does decrease the content of antioxidants, but their absorption can be markedly increased without increasing the absorption of caffeine by simply adding 50 mg of vitamin C to each cup. (below). There are many good-tasting specialty green teas available. We do not suggest green tea extracts, because excessive amounts of green tea chemicals can adversely affect liver function. Some studies suggest green tea is also important in the prevention of prostate cancer.
· Liquid Vitamin C: If you are not drinking three cups of regular green tea per day, you can add 50 mg to each cup. The absorption of antioxidants may increase three-fold according to one study.
· Coffee: Of course many men will prefer coffee, and coffee actually contains more antioxidants than tea. In one study drinking 5 cups of coffee per day was associated with a lower rate of prostate cancer. Large amounts of coffee can have serious adverse effects on the heart in some individuals.
· Dark Chocolate: Chocolate has potent effects on NO production, but it usually contains a lot of sugar, which reduces NO. You can get all of the advantages and avoid the sugar with a low sugar chocolate. If you are lucky and have a "Trader Joe's" nearby, try their "dark chocolate lovers chocolate bar" from Columbia. It has some vanilla added for flavor and is our favorite. Also, the price is very reasonable. You will get to enjoy a low sugar alternative as much as regular chocolate. Don’t overdo it. This is our only recommendation that could make you gain weight. An ounce or so will give you lots of antioxidant and is enough to look forward to each day. Have some for a mid-afternoon break along with a cup of coffee or green tea.
These supplements are all reasonable in price. They will cost you less than other supplements marketed for erectile potency, which are often more hype than substance. Erectile function is like most other things- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! And you will also improve your overall health.
A Note of Caution. Most dietary supplements are not independently evaluated for quality control. There are four websites that list quality products and companies. You can look for one of their symbols but unfortunately most products will not have undergone independent testing.