In recent years, magnesium has gained a lot of attention as a micronutrient that can help in several disease conditions. It has especially received recognition as a natural remedy for fighting stress and migraine-like headaches. However, it is worth knowing that it is suitable for male sexual health too.
Magnesium may help with erectile dysfunction, by normalizing the metabolism of other nutrients and even directly helping increase NO production in penile tissue.
Magnesium – an Essential Micronutrient
Magnesium is an essential micronutrient, and humans cannot survive without it. It is a vital cofactor for more than 300 enzyme systems. This means that numerous metabolic processes either cannot happen without it or will be slowed down.
The body needs magnesium for energy production, synthesis of RNA, and DNA. It needs magnesium for the production of antioxidants like glutathione. It is necessary for the metabolism of certain vitamins like vitamin D. It is required even for the transportation of other ions across the membrane, like calcium and potassium – thus, it is essential for nerve health and contraction of muscles, including the heart (1, 2).
Since it is so vital for human existence, the human body has quite a lot of it, about 25 gms. However, monitoring the levels of magnesium in the human body or assessing its deficiency is very difficult as the majority of it is in bones and tissues (1, 3).
Are People Getting Enough Magnesium?
Magnesium is present in most food products, but in small quantities. It is present in animal products, nuts, vegetables, cereals, and so on. Therefore, a severe deficiency of magnesium is rarely seen. However, the lack of severe deficiency also means that most people fail to realize that they are not getting enough magnesium.
The required daily intake of magnesium is 400-420 mg for adults. For older adults, or those living with specific disease conditions, the requirement may be much higher. Since so many adults are living with chronic diseases, they need much more magnesium (1).
There are not many studies regarding the status of magnesium in the general population. Analysis of The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2000 in the US shows that most people are getting just half of the recommended daily intake. For Caucasian men, daily intake is about 237 mg/day (4).
People who are mainly at risk of magnesium deficiency are those living with gastrointestinal diseases, diabetics, older adults, and those consuming too much alcohol. All these categories of people are also known to have a higher prevalence of erectile dysfunction.
Magnesium and Health
Magnesium plays a role in almost every body function, and here we look at some of the disease conditions triggered or made worse by its deficiency. Managing these conditions can help fight erectile dysfunction.
Hypertension and heart disease – there is enough evidence to show that magnesium may help reduce hypertension a bit. It may improve cardiovascular health. Magnesium may even help improve lipid profiles (5).
Diabetes – is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. There is emerging evidence that magnesium may help prevent diabetes. For those living with diabetes, it may help improve insulin sensitivity. It is good for diabetic neuropathy, too (6).
Osteoporosis – is not just about weak bones but also low-grade inflammation and deficiency of other minerals. A person living with it cannot have good erection quality. Magnesium not only helps directly in bone mineralization; it also helps improve the metabolism of other minerals and vitamins. Magnesium also affects the activity of certain hormones (7).
Nerve health – its role in migraine pathogenesis is now well recognized. A person with headaches, disturbed sleep also suffers from low libido. Magnesium can help through its beneficial effect on nerve health (8).
Magnesium and Erectile Dysfunction
In most cases, magnesium will help by reducing the risk of various health disorders. Since magnesium is involved in so many metabolic pathways, it is logical to conclude that it may affect male health. It is not a secret that libido/sexual desire is low in all people living with ill health.
Since erectile dysfunction is not an acute life-threatening condition, it remains neglected by the researchers. However, in recent times science has started to understand that not only healthy sexual life is good for health, lack of it may also indicate some underlying health disorders.
Recent studies show that people living with erectile dysfunction have lower levels of magnesium in the blood. Multiple studies demonstrate the relationship between magnesium deficiency and erectile dysfunction both in healthy adults and in those living with chronic disorders. Those with low magnesium also have elevated inflammation markers (9, 10).
Magnesium Improves Erectile Function
Viagra is a PDE-5 enzyme inhibitor, and by inactivating this enzyme, it boosts NO levels in the penile tissues. Studies show that PDE is deactivated in the human body through a magnesium-dependent pathway (11). This means that magnesium can also have a direct effect on erection quality. Additionally, it may help improve the response to other medications used for treating the condition.
Quite like any health supplement, magnesium will not help with erectile dysfunction instantly, until or unless someone is living with severe deficiency. However, on prolonged supplementation, it will improve sexual and general health, and improve response to sexual stimulation.