Boost Your Libido – Nutritional Supplement Options
Article by Lucas Rockwood
Are you suffering with low libido? If you are trying to figure out why and what you can do about it, food and nutritional supplements could help.
As well as being a yoga teacher, I am also a qualified nutritional therapist. Here I’ll explore the pros, cons, and suggested doses of some of the most effective libido-boosting nutritional supplement options, so you can make an informed decision about what might work for you. Although please keep in mind that they are generally recommended for short term use only.
What Causes Low Libido?
Low libido is often caused by a complex mix of psychological and physiological factors, but the hormone testosterone is often involved for both men and women. With that in mind, it’s wise for anyone struggling with low libido get their T levels tested. Healthy testosterone ranges are:
- Men: total 300 to 1000 ng / dl, Free 45 to 245 pg/ml (picograms per ml)
- Women: total 15 to 70 ng/dl, free 0.1 to 6.4 pg/ml
Also, healthy sleep, stress management, a balanced diet, and exercise–particularly weight training–are the most effective ways to naturally boost libido. These lifestyle interventions will almost always outperform any foods or nutritional supplements:
- Resistance training at least twice per week
- Improving sleep quality and duration
- Reducing body fat (not too low)
- Managing stress
It’s important to remember that supplements for increased libido are generally recommend for short term use only. Long term, their efficacy diminishes and the potential for adverse reactions might increase.
A root vegetable from the Andes that looks like a turnip, there is yellow, black, and red maca. Most of what you’ll find for nutritional uses is the yellow variety. Be sure to purchase gelatinized maca as this processed version removes some of the difficult-to-digest starches. It might take 2-8 weeks to feel the effects, but the libido-enhancing properties are well documented for both men and women.
Dosage: 1 to 3 grams daily
Potential side effects: can cause bloating, particularly the non-gelatinized form. As a natural goitrogen, people with thyroid conditions should be careful.
Also known as longjack or Malaysian ginseng, this root has been used for hundreds of years for sexual enhancement. There is evidence to suggest it may have some antiestrogenic or pro-testosterone effects, but studies are inconclusive.
Dosage: 200 mg of 100:1 concentration, or 400 mg of 50:1.
Potential side effects: the taste is extremely difficult to tolerate, so choose a capsule. Tongkat Ali might cause anxiety, nervousness, or disrupt sleep. Heavy metal contamination is also a common issue, so much so that the supplement is banned from some online resellers. Anyone with cancer, heart disease, or taking blood sugar medication should check with their doctor before use.
This Mediterranean plant has been used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. While the scientific research explaining Tribulus’ libido-boosting function is weak, anecdotally, many people find it helpful and notice a difference.
Dosage: 250-1000 mg, varies widely as does potency
Potential side effects: not recommended during pregnancy. Potential risk for prostate problems, gastrointestinal distress, sleep problems, and irregular periods. Long term use is not recommended.
Also known as Indian ginseng, the Ashwagandha shrub grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine. For hundreds of years, people have used its roots and orange-red fruit for medicinal purposes. Research shows it lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and is believed to raise testosterone levels by proxy.
Dosage: 200-500 mg daily, potency varies widely
Potential side effects: might trigger nightshade allergies, could lower blood pressure and blood sugar, impact thyroid, and could be problematic during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before use.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral involved in hundreds of enzymes. It plays many roles, including in antioxidant enzymes, brain function, and the immune system. Zinc is most commonly taken to reduce the duration of the common cold and support optimal testosterone levels. It is a major player in the creation of DNA, cell growth, protein-building, healing damaged tissue, and supporting a healthy immune system. Zinc’s positive effects on libido are often attributed to its overall health benefits.
Dosage: 25 mg daily
Side effects: Zinc supplements can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, stomach upset, heartburn, and nausea. Supplements can also affect taste perception, causing a metallic taste in the mouth or a change in taste sensations.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. It benefits us in many ways, from bone health to mood. Vitamin D is produced by the skin in response to sunlight and a smaller percent is absorbed from food. It helps to control calcium concentration in the blood – crucial for the development of strong bones. Adequate vitamin D levels are also believed to promote healthy sex hormones and potentially normalize libido. Deficiency is endemic in most countries, but low Vitamin D can be easily corrected through supplementation.
Dosage: 5,000 – 10,000IU
Side effects: Vitamin D3 supplements can cause side effects such as headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, a metallic taste in the mouth, bone pain, muscle problems, fatigue, itchy skin, sore eyes, and a cough. Vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare, even with high supplement intake, but can potentially cause excessive calcium in the blood and symptoms like vomiting, frequent urination, and calcium stones.
This guide is for educational purposes only. If you are taking any medication, please discuss with your doctor before adding any nutritional supplements to the mix.
Want to Learn More?
- Science of Stretching 5-Day Program (on demand)
- YOGABODY YouTube Channel (free to subscribe)
- The Lucas Rockwood Show (podcast)