Suffering from a low sex drive?
A reduced sex drive can be pretty normal for men depending on what’s going in in your life but if you do find yourself lacking interest in sex then you might appreciate a helping hand. And although it’s tempting to reach straight for one of those magic blue bills, you could find that the solution is much simpler and closer to hand. We all know that maintaining a healthy body is essential for our wellbeing but this also includes sexual wellness which is why a fresh but basic approach to nutrition could be the answer you’re looking for.
In this feature we take a look at all the natural ways you can boost your libido using vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Though not talked about as often as loss of libido in women, it is thought that as many as 40-70% of men suffer from a reduced sex drive at some point in their lives.
A loss of libido in men can be due to any number of reasons from psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression to physical ones too.
Often a temporary side effect, a low sex drive often sorts itself out once the root problem has been resolved.
But if you are suffering from a flagging flagpole then it could be due to something as basic as nutrition.
What Are The Best Vitamins for Male Sex Drive?
Yes, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals have long been known to have ill effects on aspects of our mental and physical health but can also play havoc with our sexual health.
A diet rich in the right vitamins can help support your circulatory and cardiovascular system; both vital components when it comes when it comes to erectile health.
And certain compounds play an essential part in regulating hormones, boosting your energy and improving your mood.
To cut a long story short, before you reach for those expensive cure-alls you might want to try boosting your intake of these essential vitamins first.
See more: the best sex supplements and pills
Found in oily fish, dairy products and liver, Vitamin A is an essential building block for the sex hormones of both men and women.
Primarily known for its benefits to the immune system plus maintaining healthy skin and eyesight, Vitamin A is also an important compound for sperm production and boosting virility.
Vegetarians and vegans can supplement their diet with beta-carotene rich foods including yellow fruits like papaya, mango and apricots as well green (leafy) vegetables (e.g., spinach) and yellow/red vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers.
Most B Vitamins are essential for the conversion of food enzymes into energy, so it stands to reason that if you want to boost your sex drive then you’re going to need to kickstart your engine.
Vitamin B3 (or ‘niacin’) is specifically helpful for men’s sex drives as it also improves blood circulation which, in turn, can make for stronger and healthy erections.
B12 is another important vitamin specifically for the male sex drive because it plays an important part in the manufacture of red blood cells. This can help enlarge blood vessels and promote a stronger, faster and longer erection.
B12 also helps to raise histamine levels which are released during orgasm.
Folic Acid, or Vitamin B9 (Folate), has long been associated as supplement given to women during pregnancy but it also plays an essential role in men’s sexual health.
A deficiency in folic acid can cause lethargy and tiredness but it can also reduce the quality of your sperm. There is even some evidence to suggest that B9 may play a role in Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Some recent studies have concluded that participants who suffer from ED reported improvement of their symptoms when given Folic Acid supplements.
Not just an excellent vitamin for helping you to avoid scurvy, Vitamin C is an essential ingredient for healthy penis function.
It’s vital for both our immune and circulatory systems which means a deficiency could have a negative impact on the efficiency of our blood vessels.
So, if you want a stronger erection then you can boost your performance with a dose of Vitamin C. You can find this compound in most fresh fruit and vegetables from strawberries and oranges to Brussel sprouts and broccoli.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, this compound is an essential ingredient for maintaining many aspects of a healthy body. From bones, muscles, and our immune function to supporting the cardiovascular system and mental health.
For men though it may also play an additional role.
According to research published by the International Journal of Impotence Research, low vitamin D levels were found to correlate with impaired sexual function.
And the degree of dysfunction was found to directly compare with the degree of deficiency.
Not only that but Vitamin D has also been found to reduce the risk of depression and stress levels; both of which can play a big role in reducing the male sex drive.
Foods which contain a good dose of vitamin D include oily fish, red meat and egg yolks plus fortified products.
A powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, eyes and the immune system, this compound is also a vital ingredient for our hormones.
Dubbed the ‘sex vitamin’, it balances the function of both our nervous systems and hormone production.
Vitamin E is important to produce testosterone and can help boost the performance of your sperm as well as increasing blood flow to the penis.
Studies published by the Archives of Andrology report that participants who took 400mg of vitamin E combined with 225 mpg of selenium (see below) showed improvements in sperm motility.
And, because of its anti-ageing properties, this little addition to your natural defences can improve vitality and vigor.
Good sources vitamin E include plant oils, nuts and seeds plus cereal products containing wheatgerm.
Top Amino Acids to Improve Male Sex Drive
And it’s not just vitamins that can help boost your libido, amino acids are organic compounds which (together with proteins) form the very building blocks of life.
So, it stands to reason that a deficiency of any one of these essential molecules could be playing havoc with your sex drive.
There are twenty amino acids which your body needs in order to function properly with nine of these being classified as essential.
In addition to these vital components, there are two other amino acids which play an important role in men’s sexual function.
L-arginine helps the body make protein and once absorbed is converted into nitric oxide. The result is healthier blood vessels and improved blood flow.
In turn, this can make some significant (and positive) differences in the strength of your erection.
Studies have shown that L-arginine (when combined with the supplement Pycnogenol, or ‘pine bark’), produces significant improvement in sexual function of men with ED.
You can find L-arginine in foods like white-meat, peanuts and pumpkin seeds.
Just like L-arginine, L-citrulline also helps produce nitric acid in the body and can improve the quality of blood flow to the penis.
Studies suggest that it may ease symptoms of mild to moderate ED.
The best natural sources of L-citrulline are in gourds like watermelon, butternut squash, pumpkins and cucumbers as well as chickpeas and nuts.
Top Minerals for Boosting Libido
The next source of libido-boosting supplements can be found in those essential nutrients we call minerals.
Essential for sperm motility, selenium is closely linked with male fertility and libido.
A study published in 2011 looked at the effects of this mineral in a group of 690 ‘infertile’ men. Over 100 days, daily dosing of this essential mineral improved sperm motility by 52% and 10.8% of those men in the group were able to get their partners pregnant.
Additional studies have also shown a direct link between infertile men and having a deficiency of selenium.
Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to have low levels of this mineral but you can find selenium in plenty of vegetables, grains and nuts.
The best source of selenium can be found in fish like tuna and sardines.
A critical mineral when it comes to your sex drive, iron is an essential building block for energy production.
Known for its role in making red blood cells, a deficiency of iron can lead to anaemia which can, in turn, negatively affect your libido and erection quality.
Without enough iron, we feel lethargic and drained so it’s vital that you get enough of this mineral in your diet.
The best sources for iron include red meat, green vegetables and dried fruit as well as egg yolks.
A chemical which plays an important part in muscle, energy and nerve function, phosphorus is just as vital for boosting your sex drive as iron.
Found in fish, dairy products, whole grains, eggs and soya beans, a deficiency would leave you irritable, anxious and weak.
Synonymous with bone-health, calcium is also an essential mineral for good mental wellbeing.
A deficiency in calcium can cause depression and ‘foggy brain’ as well as giving you muscle cramps, spasms and numbness.
Whilst dairy products are the best sources of this mineral you can also find it in bread, pulses, dried fruit and green, leafy vegetables.
One of the most important and hardworking minerals in our diet, magnesium plays a role in over 300 functions in the human body.
It is most commonly known for its positive effects in our sleep function, reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation.
It stands to reason that a good night’s sleep, lower stress and a relaxed mood can all benefit your libido and energy levels.
However, magnesium is also known to help maintain testosterone levels in the blood stream.
You can get magnesium from nuts, whole grains, brown rice and sees as well as eggs and dark green, leafy vegetables.
Another important mineral, zinc is responsible for plenty of functions in the body including cell growth, digestion and metabolic function.
But zinc is also an essential part of testosterone production.
Studies have consistently shown that men who are deficient in this mineral have correlatively low levels of testosterone.
Not only that but zinc is also thought to have an important role when it comes to our sense of smell. With studies reporting that this is strongly linked to our libido, a reduction in our ability to sniff out a good mate could be dampening our sex drives.
Zinc is also well reported to help boost good sperm health.
Found in red meat, cheese and eggs plus pulses and whole grains, the best source of zinc is in seafood…..particularly oysters!
Top Natural Supplements for Male Sex Drive
And lastly, whilst these natural ingredients are neither vitamins or minerals, they are all useful and important additions to a good diet, rich in libido boosting qualities.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal glands and plays a role in the development of other hormones, including testosterone.
In fact, low DHEA levels are associated with a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
It also has a performance enhancing effect on our bodies and is often called the natural steroid.
So, DHEA can also improve athletic performance, decrease overall body fat and increase bone density.
But, as we age, our, DHEA levels tend to decline by roughly 10% every ten years decade, which is why it is important to supplement this hormone.
These compounds which are found in plant based foods are packed to the brim with antioxidants and come with all those health benefits that are associated with neutralizing free-radicals.
They can help decrease your risk of developing conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. And they’re also associated with reducing inflammation associated with hundreds of other chronic illnesses.
There are more than 8,000 types of polyphenol which can be categorized into four sub-groups:
- Phenolic acids
- Polyphenolic amides
- Other polyphenols
Mostly found in grains, fruits, vegetables you can also get some from dark chocolate and red wine!
And it’s this last source which could prove to be a decent tip for your libido.
Several sources suggest that drinking drank a glass of red daily could help boost testosterone levels.
Moderation here is key as researchers also found that drinking too much red wine could cause your sex hormones to plummet.
And the best part of this advice is that sharing a few glasses with your lady friend can help you both to get in the mood. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who also drank red wine daily reported increased sex drives, better lubrication and heightened sensitivity in their erogenous zones!
These fatty acids have long been hailed as a superfood with a lot of health benefits including supporting the immune system, increasing energy levels and promoting brain health.
Research has also shown that these nutrients can help tackle the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Another way to naturally boost your mood, if your lack of interest in sex is anything to do with stress then Omega 3s could help.
Found in oily fish and flaxseeds, these fatty acids are a great supplement to add to your daily intake.
Based on the bark extract taken from the Yohimbe tree, yohumbine is a concentrated and standardized supplement taken for erectile dysfunction and/or weight loss.
Known as the ‘love tree’ in its native West Africa, the active compound in this supplement is thought to promote the release of nitric oxide. In turn this can help improve blood flow and help with erectile function.
The jury is out on how effective this supplement can be and, as with all other entries on our list, can carry some unwanted side-effects including potentially adverse reactions with prescribed medications (see ‘Word of Caution’, below).
A popular East Asian herbal remedy, Gingko Biloba is widely available at health food shops and has been added to plenty of foodstuffs and drinks.
Known for dozens of its health boosting benefits including improved cognitive function, reducing anxiety and increased efficiency of the cardiovascular system, the main active compounds in Gingko are polyphenols (see above).
There is also some evidence to suggest that this herbal remedy could also help improve sexual function.
This may relate to the compounds positive properties for mood-boosting and improved blood circulation.
An extract of the Maca root, there are several published studies which support the claims that this plant has powerful aphrodisiac properties.
As ever, there is a distinct lack of definitive evidence but from the small number of experiments available (and anecdotally), men who dosed daily with Maca reported an increase in their libido (compared to placebo group).
Available from all good health food stores, the daily suggested dose to harness these effects is thought to be 1.5-3g.
Another Asian herbal remedy, Ginseng has long been reported as a natural aphrodisiac.
Though to work in a similar way to Viagra, this root is though to help relax muscles and improve the blood circulation to the genitals.
There are several types of ginseng available on the market including Ashwagandha, Korean Red and Panax; each has their properties and side effects so it’s important that you choose the right one.
Black ginseng, for example, is thought to stimulate testosterone production whilst Ashwagandha can have a more sedative effect.
KRG (or Korean Red Ginseng) is the more popular variety for its libido enhancing properties.
Another plant extract, fenugreek has been a traditional remedy for low libido for centuries and clinical research has found scientific evidence to support this.
Trials undertaken in 2011 reported up to a 28% rise in the sex drive of those men who were dosing twice daily with the extract.
Compared to the placebo group who saw a fall in their libido, this could prove that claims of fenugreek being an aphrodisiac are true.
Though to stimulate testosterone, the active compounds responsible for this are called saponins and can only be found inside the seeds, not the leaves.
Known universally as the world’s most expensive spice, there is also scientific evidence to support the traditional claims that saffron can help boost your libido.
A study undertaken at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences concluded that a compound called crocin (found in saffron) could help increase your libido.
Along with claims that regular use can also boost your mood and help balance your hormones, adding a touch of this spice to your diet could harness some positive effects for your live life!
Word of Caution
Whilst most of the supplements on our list are naturally occurring compounds which can be found in many standard diets, each carry their own advice in terms of dosage and potential interactions.
We would always recommend discussing the use of any of these supplements with your dietician or general practitioner, particularly if you are taking any other regular medications.
In some instances, the use of these compounds could cause adverse reactions with prescribed drugs or potentially cause unwanted side effects.
See more: can CBD make sex better?
Featured image via Pixnio.