For ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION, vitamin C with bioflavonoids helps to increase blood flow to the erectile tissues, improving the ability to maintain an erection, and is a highly effective antioxidant. Vitamin C also boosts nitric oxide (NO) production and prevents NO breakdown, so that penile blood vessels dilate readily.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant, tissue protector, and is essential for forming collagen, the main constituent of connective tissue, to keep blood vessel walls strong. This ensures steady blood supply to the pelvic organs and all other body tissues. Because vitamin C is naturally a very mild acid, it is even better absorbed when it is formulated with minerals such as magnesium or potassium that act as buffers. The benefits of vitamin C for pelvic blood flow and protection against oxidative damage are magnified by bioflavonoids, which are usually found together with vitamin C in fruits and vegetables. Bioflavonoids are biologically active plant pigments that give fruits and flowers their colors. They enhance the absorption of vitamin C, and improve its utilization throughout the body. Because they also improve circulation in their own right, they are a remedy for erectile dysfunction.
Buffered vitamin C helps erectile dysfunction by several mechanisms:
- Improving blood flow via nitric oxide: The release of nitric oxide (NO) in blood vessel walls triggers the relaxing and opening of vessels, for enhanced blood flow. Research studies of male pelvic tissue levels of nitric oxide reveal that the effect of nitric oxide on smooth muscle relaxation is a key factor in mediating the erection process.1,2 Ascorbic acid, vitamin C, augments NO production and increases its bioactivity in the vascular system in a variety of body processes.
Penile erection requires the relaxation of the smooth muscle in blood vessels that supply two chambers called the corpora cavernosa, which run the length of the penis. These chambers contain a maze of blood vessels shaped like cavernous spaces, resembling a sponge. The urethra, a channel for urine and sperm, runs along the underside of the corpora cavernosa. The erectile tissue of the corpora cavernosa is supplied by two main arteries and several veins and nerves. An erection begins with sensory and mental stimulation, when nerve messages begin to stimulate the penis. Impulses from the brain and local nerves cause the tiny muscles in blood vessels of the corpora cavernosa to relax and open up. Blood rushes in through the cavernosus arteries to engorge spaces in the spongy tissue. This creates pressure in the corpora cavernosa, making the penis expand and become erect. The blood then gets trapped under high pressure, creating an erection. The tunica albuginea, a membrane surrounding the corpora cavernosa, helps to trap the blood in the corpora cavernosa, sustaining the erection. An erection is reversed when muscles in the penis contract, stopping the inflow of blood and opening outflow channels.
The erection process depends upon ample nitric oxide in the penile blood vessels, and buffered vitamin C helps larger amounts of NO be more available.
- Buffered vitamin C moderates cortisol levels, thus supporting healthy penile function and testosterone levels. Vitamin C has also been shown to stabilize cortisol output, lower stress hormones, boost mood, and increase oxytocin in the body, all of which enhances a man’s ability to maintain erections. Chronically high cortisol levels can impair cognitive performance and sexual desire, suppress thyroid function which if low can reduce energy and metabolic rate, and dampen libido. Excess cortisol can also suppress circulating testosterone and other male sex hormones, worsening ED. In addition, too much cortisol increases visceral fat, and fat accumulations in blood vessel linings can impede blood flow into the penis.5 As many as 25 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction in all age groups. With aging, the body’s need for crucial nutrients increases, including vitamins that are essential to maintain sexual function. Water-soluble vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, and adding this robust immunity supporting vitamin on a daily basis improves men’s sexual function.
- As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C protects the body’s tissues from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that form during normal metabolism, as well as through exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants. In addition, vitamin C helps the regeneration of other antioxidants such as vitamin E, all of which are promising for disorders associated with oxidative damage. Several studies have shown that vitamin C protects the testicular Leydig cells from oxidative stressors, and thus preserves testosterone levels, and ultimately enhances erectile function. In a study of 120 male workers occupationally exposed to lead in India and rendered impotent and infertile, the men were treated with vitamin C. Researchers concluded that this antioxidant treatment offered protection against DNA damage due to reactive oxygen species. Thus, vitamin C can strengthen erectile tissues against oxidative damage, enhancing the initiation and maintenance of erections.6
- Bioflavonoids are a crucial component of the vitamin C complex found in nature. They are vascular tonics in their own right that increase robustness of blood vessels and foster ample blood flow. They also enhance the absorption and effectiveness of vitamin C, so they are a valuable treatment for ED. Among bioflavonoids, rutin is a vascular protector that reduces capillary permeability and fragility, and can thus improve penile blood flow. The flavonoid hesperidin also helps to strengthen and protect blood vessels and their linings.
In our clinic, we choose water-soluble vitamin C in a buffered, low-acidity potassium-magnesium blend that is gentle on the stomach, with a pH of ideally around 4.2. It is highly absorbable, and far more rarely causes loose stools than other vitamin C formulas. We like to include bioflavonoids with vitamin C, as these plant pigments enhance the actions of vitamin C and bring extra benefits for erectile function. We have observed patients with erectile dysfunction reporting gradual improvements over time on vitamin C with bioflavonoids, experiencing more frequent erections that are sustained for longer. These men give themselves notably higher scores on the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire, after 6 to 12 months of vitamin C, attaining erections more easily with better penetration and more frequent intercourse.
Buffered vitamin C 1,000mg, buffered with magnesium and/or potassium, including citrus Bioflavonoids 100-200mg, one to three times daily with any meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Ignarro, Louis J., et al. “Nitric oxide and cyclic GMP formation upon electrical field stimulation cause relaxation of corpus cavernosum smooth muscle.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 170.2 (1990): 843-850.
- Burnett, Arthur L., et al. “Nitric oxide: a physiologic mediator of penile erection.” Science 257.5068 (1992): 401-403.
- Cartledge, Jon, Suks Minhas, and Ian Eardley. “The role of nitric oxide in penile erection.” Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy 2.1 (2001): 95-107.
- Meldrum, David R., et al. “A multifaceted approach to maximize erectile function and vascular health.” Fertility and sterility 94.7 (2010): 2514-2520.
- Travison, Thomas G., et al. “The relationship between libido and testosterone levels in aging men.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 91.7 (2006): 2509-2513.
- Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4:118–126.
- Nakhostin-Roohi, Babak, et al. “Effect of vitamin C supplementation on lipid peroxidation, muscle damage and inflammation after 30-min exercise at 75% VO2max.” Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 48.2 (2008): 217.
- Vani, Katukam, et al. “Clinical relevance of vitamin C among lead-exposed infertile men.” Genetic testing and molecular biomarkers 16.9 (2012): 1001-1006.