Although erectile dysfunction is most commonly associated with older men, it can affect men of all ages, and for a variety of reasons. In fact, it’s estimated that it happens to nearly 30 million men in the United States. There are plenty of causes, risks, and conditions that are involved in erectile dysfunction, as well as plenty of ED treatments, but every day scientists are learning more about this complex phenomenon. One nutrient that continues to attract attention for its role in sexual function is magnesium.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is defined as the difficult or inability to achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intimacy. There are many causes, with most related to the cardiovascular system. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are heavily associated with erectile dysfunction, which is why assessing your underlying health is a key to understanding your ED.Mental health issues like depression, stress, and anxiety, can also lead to ED, and it may even be a side effect of medications or various vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. One that might result in erectile dysfunction is a magnesium deficiency.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, including some super important activities: building protein, DNA, and RNA, helping nerves and muscles to function, and supporting the immune system. It can also play a significant role in the development and structure of bones, the flexibility of muscles, and the rhythm of the heart.
Some of the potential health benefits of magnesium include:
- Blood pressure. Some studies have shown that magnesium can help to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in those with elevated levels.
- Cardiovascular system. Magnesium helps to maintain the overall health of muscles in the body, including the heart and those involved with the cardiovascular system. As a result, magnesium is often given to people after experiencing a heart attack or those with congestive heart failure.
- Diabetes. One of the roles that magnesium plays in the body is the metabolism of insulin and control of glucose, two issues heavily involved in diabetes. As a result, diets with higher magnesium are linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Mental health. Magnesium plays a factor in the overall brain function, nervous system, and mood. Low levels are often associated with depression and anxiety.
- Migraines. Research has shown that people who frequently experience migraines are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency than others.
- Skeletal system. Magnesium is directly involved with the overall health of bones and indirectly involved due to its regulation of calcium and vitamin D. Optimal levels of magnesium are associated with higher bone density, better formation of bone crystals, and a lower risk of developing osteoporosis.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need Every Day ?
On average, an adult will have roughly 25 grams of magnesium in their body, half of which is stored in the skeletal system. The rest is spread out and stored among various muscles, tissues, and fluids.
A healthy level of daily magnesium intake is around 400 milligrams for men and 300 milligrams for women.
Since magnesium is so important to overall health, it’s good to get at least 100 milligrams of magnesium daily. Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to:
- Atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Increased risk of stroke
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle spasms and tremors
Where Can You Get More Magnesium?
Magnesium is found in a lot of foods, some of which are enriched these days, so reaching the daily minimum shouldn’t be difficult, barring allergies.
Some of the foods that are the most rich in magnesium include:
- Black beans
- Brown rice
- Dark chocolate
- Kidney beans
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Soy milk
- Whole wheat bread
For whatever reason proper magnesium levels can’t be sustained through diet, supplements are available.
However, be careful not to take magnesium in excess. An overdose of magnesium through food is unlikely, as the body can typically expel anything it doesn’t need through urination. But supplementation can actually lead to an overdose. The most common symptoms of magnesium overdose are diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping, but a severe overdose could result in kidney issues, lower blood pressure, and cardiac arrest.
Magnesium and Sexual Functions
Magnesium plays an important role in a host of bodily functions, including sexual processes, and a deficiency can have a negative impact on sexual performance.
For example, high blood pressure is a potential result of a magnesium deficiency and is also a common cause of erectile dysfunction.
Magnesium is also essential for the metabolism of nitric oxide, which is involved in the penile erection process. Insufficient magnesium can reduce nitric oxide levels, making an erection harder to achieve.
Another way that a magnesium deficiency can impact sexual health is by lowering testosterone production. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and lower T levels are associated with erectile dysfunction and a decreased sex drive.
Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
If you're experiencing erectile dysfunction as a result of a rare magnesium deficiency, restoring your magnesium to optimal levels may be enough to restore sexual function. However, there are plenty of available treatments if magnesium isn't the issue.
There are several oral medications available, via prescription, that can help treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The most popular options are sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), and vardenafil (Levitra®).
These drugs are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors and work to increase blood flow to the penis, making an erection easier to achieve and maintain. These medications' effects start about 30 minutes after taking them and last for four hours or longer depending on medication. They're quite effective, helping over 80% of men in clinical studies.
Making positive lifestyle changes can help to reduce the frequency and severity of erectile dysfunction. The erection process relies heavily on the cardiovascular system, and anything that has a negative impact on this system can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Some lifestyle changes that can improve the health of the cardiovascular system include:
- Getting more exercise. In addition to boosting testosterone levels, getting more exercise can improve the health of your heart and lower blood pressure. Erections rely heavily on blood flow, so the more blood that can be pumped into the penis and the more pressure available, the better the erection quality. Even going for a 30 minute walk daily can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction by nearly half.
- Eat a well balanced diet. Foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat (often processed foods) can contribute to atherosclerosis and increase blood pressure, both of which are high risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Cutting back on these types of foods and increasing whole foods, leafy green vegetables and fruits may help to improve blood circulation. Eating better can also help to lose excess pounds. As body mass index (BMI) goes up, so too will the risk of developing erectile dysfunction. For example, a man with a 42 inch waist is more than twice as likely to experience ED as a man with a 32 inch waist.
- Eliminate bad habits. In addition to being bad for overall health, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are heavily associated with erectile dysfunction. Smoking is known to constrict blood vessels, and alcohol causes blood volume to decline and impacts the central nervous system. Both of these can impact erection quality.
- Reduce stress. Erectile dysfunction is not just a physical condition. Stress, anxiety, and depression are all associated with erectile issues. Finding healthy ways to reduce stress can improve both mental health and physical health. Yoga, meditation, and various breathing techniques can help. Exercise is another great option for relieving stress.
The Takeaway: Magnesium is an essential nutrient that's involved in hundreds of bodily functions. While more research is needed, a deficiency in magnesium may be associated with erectile dysfunction and various issues related to sexual health.
Magnesium deficiencies aren't particularly common, and chances are your ED has another underlying cause. Evaluate your health, then consider a consultation with Rex MD: our licensed physicians can prescribe you ED medications like generic Viagra from the comfort of home, if approved, and with discreet 2-day shipping. It's fast, online, and affordable - click here to get started.