NUTRITION plays a huge role in sex drive, as it affects among other things, hormones, blood flow and minimising oxidant damage, says British nutritionist Patrick Holford.
While the stresses of everyday life can take their toll on health, they sadly can also take a toll on your sex life with the result that sex can be the last thing on your mind. While de-stressing is a help, Holford says there are practical steps you can take to avoid having to think of more creative excuses than the predictable "I've got a headache" line.
For most people sex drives vary over time and may decline with increased age. However, now it appears that our sex drives may be decreasing overall, says Holford as surveys are showing that nearly a third of women never reach orgasm and a fifth do not enjoy their sex life. Also, although many men suffer from erectile dysfunction, many more are finding that their libido is low in the first place. Sex drive is primarily driven by hormones and over the last 50 years there is growing evidence that hormone-related problems are on the increase, including infertility and cancers.
Holford advises the following six supplements for better sex:
How they work: Needed for testosterone production, adrenal support, energy production and healthy nerves. B1 is needed for healthy thyroid function. B3 is a vasodilator, enhancing blood flow to sex organs and essential for pituitary function which controls hormone balance. Food sources include fish (anchovies, tuna and swordfish), liver and the spice paprika.
How much? Niacinamide (B3) 50mg, Niacin (B3) 50mg, Pyridoxine (B6) 50mg, Cyanocobalamine (B12) 50mcg, Folic acid 500mcg a day.
How it works: Widely regarded as a 'sexual rejuvenator'. Animal studies have shown ginseng may increase testosterone levels; help the body adapt to stress and boost energy. How much? Panax Ginseng 200mg (standardised to 10% Ginsenosides) x3 daily, Siberian Ginseng 200mg (standardised to 1% eleutherosides) x3 daily.
How it works: A native of the Brazilian Amazon, it appears to boost libido and enhance sexual experience in both sexes.
How much? 1g a day.
How they work: By minimizing oxidant damage to sex organs and by optimising blood flow to sex organs.
How much? Take a good antioxidant formula that contains the vitamins A, C and E plus zinc, selenium and perhaps lipoic acid and CoQ10.
How it works: Zinc is needed to convert testosterone to its active form and to sustain lubrication of vaginal wall, as well as for pituitary function. Sources include oysters, peanuts, crab and dark chocolate.
How much? 15mg daily (best as part of a multivitamin).
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
How it works: A native ofPeru's central highlands, where it has been used in traditional Andean culture to awaken healthy passion.
How much? 3-5g of ground maca.
ęSupplements should never take the place of a balanced diet and Holford advocates careful, healthy eating as part of the plan.