In a number of studies, abnormally low levels of vitamin D have been associated with sexual dysfunction and symptoms of depression in otherwise healthy women. Does vitamin D affect sexual function and mood in men as well?
Does vitamin D affect sexual function?
Vitamin D has been named as playing a significant role in a number of different health situations ranging from depression to arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, and heart health. In fact, some past research has shown that a deficiency or insufficiency of vitamin D is a factor in erectile dysfunction. Do vitamin D levels have an effect on both ED and depression in men?
A recent study examined the effect of vitamin D on sexual function and depression in a group of 47 apparently healthy men ages 18 to 40 years. The men were grouped based on their vitamin D status: 15 had vitamin D deficiency, 16 had vitamin D insufficiency, and 16 had normal levels.
Although not all experts agree on the exact definition of vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, and normal, a general guideline is as follows, based on the results of a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test:
- 20 to 50 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) is considered normal/healthy by some standards, while 20 to 30 ng/mL is viewed as insufficient by others
- 12 to 20 ng/mL is considered insufficient
- Less than 12 ng/mL is considered deficient
All of the men completed questionnaires about their sexual functioning International Index of Sexual Function-15, or IIEF-15) as well as the depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory, or BDI-II). When compared with healthy men:
- Men with a vitamin D deficiency showed lower scores for erectile function, orgasmic function, and libido
- Men with vitamin D insufficiency had lower scores on erectile function only
- Erectile dysfunction was more common among men in the vitamin D deficiency group than in the insufficiency group
- The depression scores were highest in the vitamin D deficiency group than in either of the other two groups
The authors concluded that low vitamin D levels have a negative impact on male sexual functioning, and that the degree of sexual difficulties is directly associated with the severity of a man’s low vitamin D levels.
How to improve vitamin D levels
You can boost your vitamin D levels by eating more foods rich in this nutrient (although the number of foods is not significant), taking a vitamin D supplement like this one, and/or exposing unprotected skin to sunlight for about 15 to 20 minutes three to four times a week. First, however, experts recommend you take a simple blood test taken to determine your vitamin D level so any deficiency can be identified and the proper replenishment plan can be taken. A significant deficiency, for example, may require vitamin D shots or very high dose supplementation.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Krysiak R et al. The effect of low vitamin D status on sexual functioning and depressive symptoms in apparently healthy men: a pilot study. International Journal of Impotence Research 2018 Jul 5
Krysiak R et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on sexual functioning and depressive symptoms in young women with low vitamin D status. Endokrynol Polska 2018; 69(2): 168-74