Vitamin D is a hormone produced by human skin in response to the Sun and to other sources of ultraviolet-B (UVB) light. Our vitamin D blood levels are lower in the winter due to the lower angle of the sun and the resulting reduced amount of natural UVB light. Blood levels are “highest in late spring through early fall and lowest from late fall through early spring”. One study found that only 23% of people have blood levels of vitamin D sufficiently high for good health.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability of a man to obtain an erection of sufficient strength to have sexual intercourse. ED is a symptom of damage to the lining of blood vessels, of inability of blood vessels to dilate and is an early marker or warning of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Risk factors for CVD, such as diabetes, hypertension, arterial calcification and inflammation, are also risk factors for ED. About 50% of ED is of vascular origin.
Nitric oxide (NO) is necessary for relaxation of the arterial walls of the penis to allow the increased circulation necessary for an erection to occur. NO is produced from an amino acid (arginine*) activated by enzymes called NO synthases. ED occurs when the circulation is inadequate. High levels of blood glucose, as seen in diabetes, inhibit the production of NO, and diabetes greatly increases the incidence of both CVD and ED.
Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is a risk factor for CVD, but it has not been studied for a relationship to ED. The authors studied previous research that might connect CVD and ED. For example, arterial calcification, as seen on X-rays, is a risk factor for both CVA and ED. Arterial calcification is seen in patients with VDD, as well as in those with very high levels of vitamin D. Nonvascular diseases conditions associated with ED and VDD include the following: Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, chronic kidney disease, depression, falls, fractures, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Parkinsonism, periodontal disease, psoriasis and smoking.
Lifestyle changes that are beneficial in ED include dietary changes, exercise programs and increased vitamin D levels (either by increased exposure to the sun or by taking vitamin D-3 supplements). Vitamin D inhibits vascular inflammation in both ED and CVD.
CONCLUSION: The authors conclude that VDD does contribute to ED and to CVD by common underlying mechanisms. Treatment by sunlight therapy or vitamin D-3 may be beneficial in ED and CVD. Seasonal variations alter vitamin D levels.
NOTE: *Arginine is a supplement which can be used to support healthy levels of nitric oxide. A common dose is 2000 mg per day.
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Summary #936. nutrientmedicine