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Men's Health : Low Vitamin D Linked to ED

Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining good health, and research finds a new reason for men in particular to have their vitamin D levels checked. A recent study suggests low levels of the "sunshine vitamin" may be associated with erectile dysfunction.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 3,400 American men, age 20 and older, who did not have heart disease. Thirty percent were vitamin D deficient, which means their levels of vitamin D were below 20 nanograms per milliliter. And 16 percent had erectile dysfunction.

Vitamin D deficiency was present in 35 percent of men with ED, compared with 29 percent of those without ED, the study found.

"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," says the study's lead investigator Dr. Erin Michos, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The researchers concluded that men with vitamin D deficiency were 32 percent more likely to be impotent than those with sufficient vitamin D levels. This association remained even after the study authors accounted for other factors associated with ED, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, diabetes, higher blood pressure, inflammation, and certain medications.

"Checking vitamin D levels may turn out to be a useful tool to gauge ED risk," Michos says. "The most relevant clinical question then becomes whether correcting the deficiency could reduce risk and help restore erectile function."

ED affects about 40 percent of men older than 40 and 70 percent of those older than 70, the researchers report. As many as 40 percent of adult Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiency, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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