Ingredient Spotlight: The Benefits of Niacin for Sexual Health
Niacin, also referred to as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid, is an essential nutrient found in common foods like meat, poultry, seafood, organ meat, peanuts, kidney beans, broccoli and mushrooms. Niacin is very important to the human body, as it plays a role in over 50 different metabolic processes.
The Functions of Niacin
Like all B-vitamins, niacin's main role is to help the body convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into usable energy. Beyond that, niacin also possesses antioxidant properties, helps regulate blood sugar, helps produce stomach acid and helps maintain cell integrity.
Taking a quality supplement can help you receive all the benefits of niacin. Niacin has been found to affect cellular inflammation, soothe minor joint discomfort, help maintain joint mobility and muscle strength and protect against the development of diabetes. Additionally, niacin is great for maintaining healthy blood lipid levels already within normal ranges by supporting a normal ratio of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol to HDL, or "good" cholesterol.
Niacin for Sexual Health
Another one of the benefits of niacin is improved sexual health in both men and women. Niacin helps promote sexual health for multiple reasons. For one, it plays a role in the production of adrenal hormones. One of the most important adrenal hormones is DHEA, which is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen. Because niacin works in this way to indirectly support healthy levels of both male and female sex hormones, it is useful for both men and women.
Aside from supporting healthy levels of sex hormones, niacin also can make sexual arousal easier to achieve. This is because niacin is used by the body to dilate blood vessels. Healthy blood vessel dilation makes sexual arousal easier, because proper blood flow to the genitals is required.
The effects of niacin on blood flow and sexual health is documented in a study involving 160 men who had erectile dysfunction. These men were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was to take a niacin supplement daily for 12 weeks, and the other group was to take a placebo daily for 12 weeks. After these 12 weeks had passed, the group that took the niacin supplement showed a significant improvement, while the placebo group saw no such improvement.
It is a misconception that only men need proper blood flow to the genitals for optimal sexual health. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, her clitoris and vulva become engorged with blood, just like the male penis. Niacin can be just as useful for women who have difficulty getting aroused.
Why Use Supplements for Sexual Health?
Natural medicines are becoming more mainstream over time. Not only are more consumers choosing to use natural vitamins or herbal medicines, but science continues to prove these medicines' efficacy. Taking a vitamin, mineral, or herb can be desirable for many reasons. Vitamin and nutrient supplements can not only help the condition you're intentionally trying to treat, but may also be used by your body for many other important processes, boosting overall health.
Some people lack the health insurance coverage needed to have access to affordable prescriptions when it comes to sexual health concerns. For people without necessary coverage, taking a supplement could be a much more affordable option that still provides desirable results.
Although certain natural supplements do carry health risks and can interact with medications, supplements are often safer than pharmaceutical drugs. Some pharmaceuticals can cause unwanted side effects that not might be seen with their supplemental counterparts. Of course, whether a supplement or prescription would be better for a given condition depends on exactly which two treatments you are comparing. In some cases, it may be better to use a prescription. Talk to your doctor first if you have a medical condition or before stopping a current medication, and seek their counsel before attempting to use a supplement to treat any medical condition.
Supplements to Use Alongside Niacin
Not all single-ingredient supplements provide results for everyone. If you do see results, the magnitude of improvement can still vary from person to person. For this reason, many people choose to combine multiple supplements for one condition or take a pre-formulated combination of herbs and nutrients in order to improve their chances of seeing results. Depending on the exact nature of your sexual health concern, there are many other supplements that you may want to consider trying in addition to niacin.
For sperm health and quality:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B12
For female fertility:
For blood flow and erections:
- Vitamin C