Sexual energy and vitality are also important male issues, especially if we are going to get along well with our mate, lover, or friends. Safe sex is a big concern today, but if we do not have the energy for sex, we can forget these more adventurous subjects. Sexual function is supported by good diet and nutrient intake. The healthy diet should provide adequate protein and essential fatty acids as well as some cholesterol (eggs, dairy foods) or plant sterols, as are found in olive oil; these foods provide some of the precursors of certain sex hormones.
Several endocrine organs aid in normal sexual function. The thyroid gland, necessary for proper energy level and metabolism, is supported by iodine and B vitamins, particularly thiamine and pantothenic acid. Testicular function is vital to normal production of testosterone, the hormone most essential to male sex drive. Adrenal androgen hormones also support testicular activity and sexual development in men. Vitamin E and zinc may be the big two when it comes to sexual energy support. Vitamins A, C, and E and folic acid as well as essential fatty acids are all important to sperm production. The minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, and sulfur, as well as vitamin B12, inositol, and vitamin C are found in healthy sperm and so also may be necessary to fertility.
Adrenal function is important for sexual function, both physiologically and in terms of energy level. Many nutrients support healthy adrenal function—vitamins A, C, and E, the B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid, and essential fatty acids. Factors such as stress, worry, excess mental activity, and regular sugar and caffeine use may contribute to weaker adrenal function.
If a man has a decreased sex drive, some extra zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 may be helpful. With impotence, vitamins C and E, B complex, and calcium, plus some counseling to explore the psychological factors, will provide support. Herbs, such as ginseng root, which is a good tonic herb, can raise general and sexual energy levels. Also, reducing the use of sedative-type drugs, such as alcohol, and nicotine, which interferes with circulation, and generally reducing stress may all help. Much sexual dysfunction has to do with mental stresses and fears of intimacy. Massage and body therapy give an important balance to a busy lifestyle, as does regular exercise. All of these may be helpful in improving both energy levels and sexual vitality.
For men who experience premature ejaculation, there may be many factors involved. Among these are not enough practice or enough sex, poor circulation, and even allergies. Histamine, a chemical in our cells and blood, controls ejaculation. If this chemical is too high, as it often is with allergies, ejaculatory rate may be increased. Low histamine levels may slow this rate and in some men may even cause problems with ejaculating. Niacin and fatty acids tend to increase the release of stored histamine, while calcium and the amino acid methionine may lower it. So extra calcium and amino acids with higher methionine levels could help in certain cases of premature ejaculation. (For more on sex and nutrition, see the Sexual Vitality program.)
Men, like women, have special nutrient needs to maintain their energy and sexuality. Men usually need at least the RDAs for all nutrients, with less iron and more magnesium and B vitamins than women. Otherwise, the requirements for a good nutritional foundation are really not very different. Men may need additional iron, particularly if there is any problem with bleeding, anemia, or if they are vegetarians. (Some recent research, however, suggests that excessive iron in men adds to their risk for cardiovascular disease due to iron’s oxidative irritation of the blood vessels and the liver cells.) Men will also obviously need more calories and protein to support their generally larger size and often higher activity levels. The number of calories needed by men will vary with their desired weight and activity level. The male "couch potato" may need to reduce his caloric intake by eating fewer munchies, drinking less beer, and restricting his intake of foods high in fats and sugar.