Do Vitamin B12 Shots Help Erectile Dysfunction?
Vitamin B12 injections claim to provide a number of health and wellness benefits. Is erectile dysfunction one of them?
It's undoubtedly true that severe deficiencies in certain vitamins can negatively affect your well-being. For instance, many people who get a regular vitamin B12 shot report an immediate, if temporary, burst of energy.
Some men seeking a "shot in the arm" for their sexual prowess may wonder whether a shot of B12 could help boost their erections.
What is vitamin B12?
B12 plays a crucial role in the development and function of the central nervous system, forming red blood cells and creating DNA. You can find vitamin B12 in foods such as beef, clams, bluefin tuna, milk, yogurt and fortified breakfast cereals. It's also available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication.
The recommended daily amount of B12 for an adult who is not pregnant or breastfeeding is 2.4 micrograms (mcg). Most people adequately acquire this from their diet without supplementation.
However, some people have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food because of pernicious anemia, gastrointestinal surgery, prolonged use of certain medications, specific congenital conditions or a vegan diet.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency include:
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Weight loss
- Inflammation of the tongue
B12 and erectile dysfunction
A B12 shot is a common way to prevent or treat deficiency. But could a shot of B12 also help with erectile dysfunction (ED)?
Not directly, according to Petar Bajic, M.D., a urologist in the Center for Men's Health at the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He said some men with B12 deficiency, however, might be at risk for cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of ED.
"Addressing any underlying cardiovascular risk factors will help reduce the risk of worsening erections and will help a man preserve the erections he does have," Bajic said.
The primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity or excess weight
- A family history of cardiovascular disease
Four actions you can take to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and help preserve your erections are to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and reduce your stress levels.
The association between low vitamin B12 levels and ED is weak, said Justin Houman, M.D., a urologist and men's health specialist at Tower Urology at Cedars-Sinai Medical in Los Angeles.
"Among the causes of erectile dysfunction, vitamin B12 has a minimal impact, if any," he said.
Bajic said there is minimal scientific evidence linking B12 to ED. He explained that one Chinese study suggested higher B12 levels were associated with ED, while a smaller Chinese study stated lower B12 levels might be associated with ED.
"The bottom line is that we don't fully understand the link between B12 and ED, but it is unlikely to play a significant role one way or another," Bajic said.
Houman agreed: "The current scientific literature on the association between vitamin B12 and erectile dysfunction shows that vitamin B12 has a very indirect impact on erectile dysfunction in anyone who does not have vitamin deficiencies."
A vitamin B12 dose couldn't hurt
Bajic said B12 is a water-soluble vitamin excreted in urine, which is why your urine turns bright yellow when you take vitamin B oral supplements. B12 supplements are generally considered safe for your health—including your sexual health.
"It is unlikely that using a B12 supplement would lead to any negative impact on erections," Bajic added.
As stated, most people get adequate B12 from their diet, so if you experience any symptoms of deficiency, it's worth speaking to your family physician to arrange a blood test. A doctor can find the root cause of the problem and check if you are deficient in any essential vitamins or minerals. If you are B12-deficient, they can prescribe B12 supplements, injections or infusions.
If your primary concern is erectile dysfunction, the best place to start is a urologist's office. B12 deficiency is unlikely to be the root cause, so if you're purely looking to improve erectile function, Houman said a shot of B12 would likely have minimal benefit—if any.