Vitamin E is called the virility vitamin for good reason. It is essential to the production of sperm, sex hormones, and gonadotropin – a pituitary hormone that stimulates the sex glands. In male laboratory animals, an inadequate supply of vitamin E resulted in a decreased level of sex hormones and in the degeneration of testicles.
Test tube studies have shown that vitamin E increases the fertility and motility (spontaneous motion) of human sperm. The potency and activity of sperm are in direct proportion to the amount of vitamin E in a man’s semen.
Food sources: Wheat germ, cold-pressed vegetable oils, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, liver, eggs. If you have high blood pressure, do not take vitamin E without first consulting your physician. Large doses of vitamin E may increase blood pressure.
L-arginine is one of eight essential amino acids. The term “essential” is slightly misleading because it suggests that some amino acids are nonessential to the body, which is not true. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot synthesize on its own, and therefore must be included in the diet. L-arginine works as a sex-booster by increasing the neurotransmitters that cause sexual arousal. It also plays a crucial role in the satisfaction one obtains from sex.
L-arginine is a favorite of body builders and athletes, who use it for increasing muscle mass and reducing fat. L-arginine causes the release of growth hormone from the pituitary glands. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and at the same time boosts metabolism in the fat cells, causing them to burn up more body fat. Athletes say that L-arginine also gives them more energy, stamina, and endurance.
Recently L-arginine has been found to play a major role in a man’s ability to have an erection. When a man is sexually stimulated, it sets up a chain reaction in which an enzyme converts L-arginine in the penis to nitric oxide. Nitric-oxide, in turn, triggers an erection. The ability to have an erection is directly related to the amount of L-arginine and oxygen carried by the blood to the penis. L-arginine occurs naturally in many foods. It is also taken as a nutritional supplement by both men and women. Although L-arginine supplementation is generally safe, one aggravating side effect can occur. If a herpes virus is present in the body, an increase in L-arginine can reactivate it. This can be countered by taking equal amounts of lysine and L-arginine. Lysine is an amino acid that reduces the growth of viruses, such as the herpes virus that causes cold sores and the herpes virus that causes genital herpes. The high L-arginine content in peanuts and in chocolate explains why some people get cold sores after bingeing on them. Anyone prone to out- breaks of cold sores or genital herpes would do well to take lysine supplements.
Food sources: Brown rice, peanuts, nuts, chocolate, poultry, raisins, dairy products, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, popcorn, carob, raw cereal, whole-wheat products. Because L-arginine releases growth hormone, it should not be used by young people whose bones are still growing. Supplemental L-arginine should not be taken by anyone with kidney or liver disease. L-arginine and other amino-acid supplements should not be taken by women who are pregnant or lactating.
Choline and Lecithin (Phosphatidylcholine)
Choline is usually classified as one of the B vitamins. It is crucial in the transmission of chemical messages between the nerves and brain, including those that elevate mood. Choline is essential for sexual arousal and may also boost sexual performance. Choline is the main component of lecithin, a fatty acid that protects cell membranes from hardening and being damaged by oxygen. Semen contains large amounts of lecithin, which must be replaced after ejaculation. Choline stimulates the brain to produce and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine elevates mood and stimulates sexual arousal, especially for those over the age of forty, when choline levels in the cells may begin to decline. Acetylcholine also triggers the release of lubricating moisture from the mucous membranes of the vagina in preparation for sexual intercourse. It helps men maintain an erection and aids in hormone production.
When used to arouse desire, 100 to 200 mg of choline is taken a half hour before having sex. Choline also boosts brain power – especially memory – and aids weight-loss by emulsifying fats so they can be flushed from the cells.
Some people prefer taking lecithin supplements rather than choline because they say that choline gives them a “fishy” body odor. Lecithin granules provide a convenient way to take choline as a daily supplement. The granules dissolve easily in juice, tea, or soup, or they can be sprinkled over food or added to a bread mix. Some users say that lecithin makes tea more satisfying. This is probably because of its oil content. Two tablespoons a day of the granules should be sufficient.
Food sources: Egg yolks, liver, soybeans, fish, meat, milk, whole-grain cereals, peas, beans, peanuts, seeds, nuts, green vegetables, brewer’s yeast Megadoses of choline may aggravate depression.
Choline may cause diarrhea. Do not take choline supplements if you have gastric ulcers or Parkinson’s disease, or if you are taking prescription drugs such as atropine or diphenhydramine, which are meant to block the effects of acetylcholine.
Phenylalanine and Tyrosine
We have seen how choline enhances sex by increasing production of the sex-boosting neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine increase levels of two other sex-boosting brain neurotransmitters, norepineph-
rine and dopamine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that exists in two forms: D-phenylalanine (taken for pain) and L-phenylalanine.
Being overweight does not necessarily lower a person’s sex appeal. But while excess weight may not stand in the way of romance, it can adversely affect the body’s reproductive system.
It even affects production of sex hormones. This is particularly true when overweight is the result of a high-fat diet. Fat produces estrogen, the primary female hormone. For women, this inadvertent accumulation of excess estrogen can cause unpleasant side effects such as disturbed menstrual cycles and bloating. It can also increase the risk of developing breast cancer, since that cancer is estrogen-dependent. This risk can be reduced by avoiding high-fat foods.
For men, a diet that is high in fat leads to a body that is low in testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive.
A study at the University of Utah tested the effect of high fat on the testosterone levels of eight male volunteers. The results were astonishing. After drinking high-fat milk- shakes (57 percent fat, 34 percent carbohydrates, 9 percent protein) the men’s testosterone levels dropped approximately 50 percent. When they drank low-fat milkshakes (1 percent fat, 73 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent protein) their testosterone levels did not decline at all. The researchers concluded that over a period of time a high-fat diet can deplete a man’s sex drive. Their conclusion has been supported by other studies.
In addition to lowering libido, a high-fat diet may con- tribute to atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty plaque deposits in the blood vessels, including the numerous tiny blood vessels in the penis. When the blood vessels are narrowed by plaque deposits, they cannot supply the penis with the amount of blood needed to achieve an erection; nor can they respond to sexual signals governed by the sex drive.
A diet that is high in animal fats – especially fat found in red meat – may affect hormone levels of both men and women. Female hormones are frequently added to the food of grazing animals such as beef cattle and also sometimes to chickens to fatten them up more quickly for market. As women are well aware, female hormones cause the body to retain water and put on weight. Although the public has been assured that any resulting amounts of female hormones in the meat are insignificant, not everyone is comfortable with this assurance. American beef has been banned in some countries because of this practice.
This is not to say that you must eliminate all fat for the health of your hormones. To do so would be disastrous to your skin. It would also prevent fat-soluble vitamins from being used by the body: vitamins A, D, E, and K. You need to have some fat in your diet, but the healthiest sources are vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish oil. Included in these necessary fats are the essential fatty acids.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are fats the body needs but cannot manufacture on its own. It is essential that they be supplied in the diet. Essential fatty acids serve many important functions that include:
- Strengthening cell membranes
- Promoting growth of muscles and nerves
- Reducing levels of cholesterol and blood fat
They are also crucial to your sex life. Essential fatty acids are needed for:
- The normal functioning of your sex organs and glands
- The production of sex hormones and adrenal hormones
- Stimulating the production of prostaglandins – hormone-like substances vitalto sexual response (sometimes injected locally to treat impotence)
- Improving circulation, which enables blood to flow into the genitals and aids erections
The two essential fatty acids that perform these functions are linoleic acid and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). The best sources of linoleic acid are cold-pressed oils of vegetables, seeds, and nuts. EPA is part of the omega-3 group of fatty acids, which are found in the oil of fish, such as salmon, that live in deep, cold, fresh water. The omega-3 fish oils are extremely effective in lowering cholesterol and blood fat levels, thereby improving circulation and thinning the blood.
Both linoleic acid and EPA produce prostaglandins, which are critical to sexual response and to male erections. In order to produce prostaglandins, however, these fatty acids must have an adequate supply of vitamins B3 and B6, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium.
Food sources: Linoleic acid: Safflower oil, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, soy oil, corn oil, sesame oil, walnuts, almonds, peanut butter.
EPA omega-3: Salmon, mackerel, menhaden, herring, sardines, flaxseed oil. EPA should not be used if you are taking blood-thinning medication. When excessive amounts of EPA are taken, it can reduce the ability of the blood to form clots.
In Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James F. Balch and Phyllis A. Balch advise diabetics to eat fish for its essentially fatty acids, but to avoid taking fish-oil supplements.
Fast food, processed food, junk food – all seem to be an integral and perhaps necessary part of today’s fast-paced lifestyle. Yet convenience and instant satisfaction have their price in less than optimal health and vitamin deficiencies. Among the most common of these are deficiencies of the B vitamins, deficiencies that were quick to emerge following that highly touted, highly processed innovation – white bread. Until that time, whole grains had been the main source of B vitamins in the average diet. But most of the B vitamins are removed in the process of making white bread. Without the basic B vitamins, bread is no longer the “staff of life.” There are, of course, other factors that cause deficiencies of the B vitamins, such as age and certain health problems.
If you are deficient in any of the B vitamins it is almost impossible to have a fulfilling sex life. The reason can be summed up in two words: energy and nerves. Without the B vitamins your body could not convert carbohydrates into glucose – a simple sugar that is the body’s chief source of energy. Nor could you metabolize (break down) fats or proteins. In short, even though you ate, you would get no energy from your food.
Vitamin B deficiency can also result in irritability, even to the point of aggressiveness and nervousness, the feeling of being “on edge.”
Unless you eat a lot of wheat germ, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, or liver, it is almost impossible to obtain sufficient B vitamins from food alone. On the other hand, if you take supplements of a single B vitamin, the need for the other B vitamins is gready increased. A surplus of one of the B vitamins could cause a deficiency of another. Thus it is a good policy to take a balanced vitamin B-complex supplement.