The Link Between Vitamin D and Libido
Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D is also unique among vitamins because it functions as both a vitamin and a hormone, and because your skin produces it in response to sunlight exposure. Getting plenty of vitamin D can reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and more. However, even though there are many opportunities to get vitamin D through diet and sunlight, as many as 75 percent of people are still deficient.
Vitamin D Deficiency and the Effects
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low bone mass, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment in elderly people, increased frequency of infection, depression, low libido, lack of energy and other symptoms. You may be more at risk for vitamin D deficiency if you don't go in the sun much, follow a vegan diet, have dark skin, are obese, or have certain medical conditions including celiac disease, Crohn's disease and cystic fibrosis.
Why Are Vitamin D and Libido Connected?
Austrian researchers have found that men who have more vitamin D in their blood also have more testosterone in their blood. As testosterone is the most important hormone that influences the sex drive, these findings suggest that higher vitamin D levels are correlated with a higher libido. Another study found that just one hour of sunshine can increase male testosterone levels by 70 percent. Vitamin D and sex drive are also connected through depression: Vitamin D deficiency can increase symptoms of depression by as much as 14 percent. Depression, in turn, can very easily lower one's sex drive.
Vitamin D is produced when you spend time in the sun, but that's not the only way that sunshine increases your libido. Being exposed to bright light during the day helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, helping you sleep better at night. This helps prevent sleep deprivation, which can be a cause of low libido. Additionally, sunlight lowers the levels of melatonin in your body. High melatonin levels have been linked to decreased testosterone. Sunlight exposure also increases levels of serotonin, an important hormone for maintaining a happy mood and a healthy sex drive. Finally, sun exposure can work to increase libido in women by way of a hormone called "melanocyte stimulating hormone," which is produced during sun exposure and has a direct effect on female libido.
Getting Enough Vitamin D and Improving Your Libido
Recognizing the link between vitamin D and sex drive can serve as an advantage in your life. You can get vitamin D through diet by eating plenty of fatty fish and fortified grain and dairy products. Or, some people prefer to take a vitamin supplement to increase levels of vitamin D. It's recommended that if you are concerned about vitamin D deficiency you focus on getting extra vitamin D primarily through your diet rather than spending lots of time in the sun.
Ninety percent of the body's vitamin D is produced in the skin. Spending a little more time in the sun can very quickly increase your vitamin D levels. However, if you choose to take this route to treat or prevent vitamin D deficiency, it's important to take precautions not to get sunburned. Just 15 minutes in the sun is sufficient to replenish your body's stores of vitamin D, so don't overdo it.
By getting plenty of vitamin D through diet and sunlight, you can quickly improve your libido while also reducing your risk for depression and various medical conditions. Other steps you can take to boost libido naturally are eating a balanced diet, managing your weight, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Additionally, there are some natural herbal supplements that may help improve libido including fennel, fenugreek, ginseng, maca and more. Any of these natural options can work together to effectively boost your libido while improving your overall health.