A new study has found that men with high cholesterol and suffering from erectile dysfunction may benefit from a daily dose of niacin, also known as vitamin B3.
The results show that the 80 men who took niacin and began the study with moderate or severe erectile dysfunction (ED) reported an improvement in their ability to maintain an erection.
The 80 men who took a placebo pill, who also began the study with only mild ED, did not have a change in symptoms, the study said.
In addition to ED, all 160 men also had high cholesterol and lipid levels.
"The exciting thing about this finding," said study author Dr. Chi-Fai Ng of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, "is that niacin is a very old drug and the safety of it is quite well-documented. Basically, it's just a vitamin, and so this would be a very simple way to improve erectile function."
The men taking niacin not only scored better on a self-reported test of erectile function; their lipid levels also improved.
For most patients, current ED drugs improve erectile function, but only during that brief time span.
"Niacin is much more convenient," Ng said. "You take it once a day, whenever you want, and you can have sex any time."
The niacin used in his study was formulated in slow-release pills, designed to seep slowly into the bloodstream over the course of a day. The men started with a daily dose of 500 milligrams (mg), to make sure they had no adverse side effects, then increased to 1,000 mg and then 1,500 mg.
The study has been published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.