Nutrition can also have a lot to do with sexual vitality, which clearly decreases with malnourishment. The focus of the diet is on antiaging and a healthy cardiovascular system. A wholesome diet low in fat and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates is a good place to begin. Any diet (and lifestyle) that maintains good circulation and normal weight and contains high-vitality fresh foods will lead to better sexual function. A good protein intake is important, but excessive protein may interfere with sexuality. Likewise, adequate dietary fats and fatty acids are required for normal hormonal function. Cholesterol is a precursor of several sexual hormones, and if it is too low, this may lead to impaired sexual function and vitality.
Regular exercise is also very important to reduce stress and anxiety and support a healthy heart. However, excessive exercise, especially in women, can reduce fertility, hormone levels, menstrual periods, and sex drive, so balance is important here as well.
Many of the foods traditionally believed to improve sexual function are from the ocean. Fish are thought to be good for brain and sexual function, especially the shellfish, such as oysters and clams. This may be because of their high levels of zinc. High-zinc foods have been thought to support male prostate function; pumpkin seeds, an old prostate helper, are high in zinc. Also from the ocean come the very-high-mineral seaweeds, which seem to support sexual function. Celery, especially celery root, is thought to be a mild aphrodisiac. Milk products such as cheeses and ice cream may have a sedative effect on sexual energy.
There are many specific supplements that influence sexual vitality, particularly vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin C, niacin, and the amino acid arginine also seem to support sexual function. Many glandular formulas are available, and some men and women may experience improvement with them. The idea that if we eat the organs or organ extracts from other animals to offer some essential help to our own corresponding organs is not a new concept and does make some sense, but there is no good research to substantiate the effectiveness of doing this.
As for many other programs related to age and stress, a general multivitamin and antioxidant formula is a good idea. Extra vitamin E may be helpful for sexual vitality and fertility, but this is still hard to prove in humans. The essential fatty acids are important to tissue strength and membrane integrity and fluidity. Niacin, the flushing form of vitamin B3, acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the skin and many other parts of the body. Some people also experience sexual stimulation from this niacin flush. Zinc seems to be especially related to male fertility and sex drive. Low zinc levels may lead to impotence, a low sperm count, and a loss of sexual interest. However, taking more than 100 mg. daily is not recommended as this can reduce immune function and absorption of other minerals, such as copper and manganese. Prostate health and testosterone hormone production may also be influenced by zinc. Vitamin C is associated with sperm motility, and male infertility has been related in part to vitamin C deficiency. Besides vitamin C, the bioflavonoids, along with vitamins A and E, and the mineral zinc, are important to healthy mucous membrane tissue and function. L-arginine, an amino acid, is also somehow tied to sperm production. In a study cited by Dr. Sheldon Hendler in The Complete Guide to Anti-Aging Nutrients, 4 grams per day of arginine increased low sperm counts in 80 percent of the men tested. Many of them were then able to naturally father children. Selenium may mildly stimulate sexual energy; manganese may also be related to sex drive; and molybdenum may have an as-yet-undetermined influence on sexual function. Pantothenic acid provides pituitary and adrenal support and, thus, indirectly improves testosterone production in men. Folic acid is a B vitamin helpful for both ovarian function and sperm production, and it, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium, may reduce the production of abnormal cells. Iodine supports the thyroid gland function, which improves both the desire and capacity for sexual activity.