Let’s face it: Men are notoriously bad at taking care of their own health.
Sure, there are plenty of exceptions. (I’m a man myself, after all.) But I’d estimate that a good 70 percent of my practice is women. And most of the men I see have their wives accompany them to my office—yet it’s hardly ever the other way around.
So it’s really no wonder that women make up to 90 percent of all the healthcare decisions in our country.
With that said, there’s one health issue in particular that—at least, in my experience—always gets the guys’ attention. And you can probably already guess what it is…
Erectile dysfunction and death risk
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is easily one of the most feared problems among men. And you know what? It should be.
But not for the obvious reason (its impact on intimacy). Rather, ED is often one of the earliest warning signs of much bigger health problems.
In fact, according to one recent analysis, ED and other symptoms of sexual dysfunction are linked with a higher risk of death.
Researchers looked at nearly 2,000 participants of the European Male Ageing Study, which collected baseline data on sexual function and testosterone levels between 2003 and 2005.
All the men were between the ages of 40 and 79 years at the start of the study. Over the long follow-up period—a median of 12.4 years—just over 25 percent of participants died.
The men who didn’t survive shared some common characteristics…
- Their body mass index (BMI) was generally higher.
- They had lower levels of free (but not total) testosterone. In fact, the men with the lowest levels of free testosterone happened to have the highest mortality risk, which isn’t too surprising. After all, free testosterone affects the body in many ways, including mood regulation, sex drive, muscle and bone development, and more.
Plus, men who reported three sexual dysfunction symptoms at the beginning of the study faced a higher risk of death than those who reported none. There were also clear links between death risk and both ED and poor morning erections.
But here’s the important part: Those links didn’t waiver once researchers adjusted for total or free testosterone levels. Sexual dysfunction symptoms still raised mortality risk by more than 50 percent.1
A dangerous red flag
This isn’t the first study to link sexual dysfunction with higher death risk. And it’s not the first study to link testosterone levels with mortality, either.
But it is the first time that researchers have untangled sexual symptoms from testosterone levels in the same group of men… and shown that erectile dysfunction is a big red flag all by itself.
And if you ask me, that’s a good thing. Because in my clinical experience, a man with erectile difficulties is more likely to engage with the healthcare system. Whereas a man who isn’t having sexual issues may never bother to see a doctor.
Of course, it won’t make much of a difference if doctors and patients alike can’t get over their reliance on Big Pharma. Too many people view ED as a simple issue you can fix with a pill. (Urologists and internists are no exception.)
So let me stress one point here: The underlying cause of your ED should always be examined. Then, it’s easy to recommend a strategic treatment approach from there.
Because if your doc just hands you a script for a little blue pill and sends you on your way, you could be missing some (very lethal) hidden problems…
True virility starts with your blood vessels
There are two main requirements for reliable erections—strong microcirculation and endothelial cell health. Both ensure ample blood flow to the penis, which you (obviously) need to perform.
Microcirculation refers to the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to our varying body parts. They’re also the first blood vessels to suffer damage and trigger “age-related” issues. That’s because, as collagen and elastin break down, these smallest vessels lose their ability to stay open.
In other words, every part of the body that has small blood vessels will eventually start suffering, too—from your heart and kidneys, to your eyes, fingers, and toes. All from neglecting your microcirculation.
Endothelial cells, on the other hand, comprise the lining of your blood vessels. One of their roles is to release the enzyme necessary for generating nitric oxide (NO). This chemical relaxes smooth muscle in the arteries of your penis, increasing blood flow and facilitating engorgement.
There are a few things that can impair your endothelial cells—like plaque buildup and poor dietary choices. (Sugar being one of the biggest offenders.) And the damage snowballs with continuous exposure. That’s why these problems get worse with age.
So when I say that problems achieving and maintaining an erection are often the very first sign that something is wrong… I mean it. And needless to say, a Viagra® prescription isn’t going to fix much, if anything at all.
Whereas, if you simply nurture your microcirculation, stronger erections are just ONE benefit that you stand to gain. And with that in mind, here’s what I recommend…
Six supplements to restore sexual function
Beyond a healthy diet and regular exercise—the backbone of all of my health-boosting recommendations—my clinical strategy for ED involves a common-sense supplement regimen to shore up microcirculation and keep blood flowing—helping to tackle intimacy issues and a whole lot more:
1.) French maritime pine tree bark extract (Pycnogenol®)—This is one of my favorite supplements of all time. There’s almost nothing it can’t do because it works primarily on collagen and elastin—essentially, what makes up the cells in our body, and holds them all together. This makes it a must-have for strong microcirculation. It also stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase. I recommend 200 mg, per day.
2.) L-arginine—This amino acid is necessary for your body to form nitric oxide, allowing proper vasodilation and facilitating erections. I recommend 3,000 mg, twice per day.
3.) Icariin—This natural substance blocks an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5), which is tasked with winding down erections. (Viagra® and its ilk are actually pharmaceutical PDE-5 inhibitors.) I recommend 500 mg, twice per day.
4.) Diosmin—This is a potent bioflavonoid that supports and promotes a healthy vascular system. I recommend a dose of 250 mg, twice per day.
5.) Curcumin—This is the active compound in the common kitchen spice turmeric. But there’s nothing common about its clinically proven benefits. It’s a great anti-inflammatory supplement that helps fight oxidative stress—the real root cause of illness. Which is essential for supporting the endothelial lining from attack. I recommend 500 mg, twice per day.
6.) Vitamin D—A recent analysis of data collected from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004 revealed a striking trend. Namely, that men with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL were 30 percent more likely to struggle with ED than men with levels above 30 ng/mL. (A level that I would consider barely sufficient, at best.) And when researchers focused on cases of severe ED, they found the adjusted risk of erectile problems to be as high as 80 percent in men with vitamin D deficiency.2
That’s why I always recommend getting your vitamin D blood levels checked twice per year. (I consider optimal levels to be between 80 to 100 ng/mL.) Then, to reach those levels, I advise taking a minimum of 50 mcg (2,000 IU) to 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin D3 daily. But some patients may need at much as 250 mcg (10,000 IU) daily to maintain them.
This is no time to be shy, fellas. And honestly, with this approach, I can’t think of a simpler route to restoring lost virility. If you’re having trouble in the bedroom, it might be nothing… or it might be a whole lot more than that.
So, go see your healthcare provider. Get a physical and some blood work.
It certainly won’t kill you. But it will help you live (not to mention, do a few other things) better and for longer.
- Antonio L et al. ENDO 2020, Abstract OR02-06.
- FaraqYM, et al. Atherosclerosis. 2016 Sep;252:61-7.