MARYLAND, United States, Thursday November 19, 2015 – A new American study suggests that low levels of Vitamin D may be associated with erectile dysfunction (ED).
ED, the inability to achieve or maintain erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse, is said to affect around 40 per cent of men older than 40 and 70 per cent of those over the age of 70.
For the study, a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, analysed the records of more than 3,400 men aged 20 and older, who participated in a national Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, from 2001 to 2004.
None of the men had overt heart disease, 30 per cent were Vitamin D deficient and 16 per cent reported symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
Vitamin D deficiency, defined as Vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per millilitre of blood, was present in 35 per cent of men with erectile dysfunction, compared with 29 per cent without symptoms of impotence.
Those men with Vitamin D deficiency were 32 per cent more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men with adequate Vitamin D levels, the team concluded.
This association held even after the study authors accounted for other factors associated with erectile dysfunction, such as drinking, smoking, diabetes, higher blood pressure, inflammation and certain medications.
Dr Erin Michos, a preventative cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, said: “Vitamin D deficiency is easy to screen for and simple to correct with lifestyle changes that include exercise, dietary changes, vitamin supplementation and modest sunlight exposure.
“Checking Vitamin D levels may turn out to be a useful tool to gauge ED risk.
“The most relevant clinical question then becomes whether correcting the deficiency could reduce risk and help restore erectile function.”
Dr Michos and her colleagues nevertheless noted that their findings are observational and more research is needed to determine whether the deficiency can cause or directly contribute to ED.
They noted that if their results are affirmed in subsequent studies, Vitamin D deficiency may become a clinical marker and a possible therapeutic target for ED.
Both erectile dysfunction and deficiency are individual markers of heightened cardiovascular risk so researchers say the new findings underscore the system-wide effects that Vitamin D has on vascular function throughout the body, including vessels that feed cardiac and genital tissues.
Vitamin D deficiency has emerged as a risk factor in a range of condition, from diabetes to high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Risk factors for the deficiency include being obese or overweight, taking limited outdoor activity, having darker skin and suffering from certain inflammatory conditions.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.