The Popular Protein That Can Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Approximately 75% of men worldwide are reportedly affected by erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. This number may be even higher, however, due to stigma surrounding the subject which often makes individuals reluctant to talk about the issue with their physician.

Erectile dysfunction is characterized by an ongoing inability to obtain or sustain an erection to engage in sexual activity. Symptoms must be consistent or recurring for a period of three months to meet diagnostic criteria (via Journal of Patient Experience). A person with ED may experience depression, difficulty concentrating, or find that their self-esteem has been affected. The condition may also influence the emotional well-being of a partner. While prescription medication is a common treatment method, consuming certain food items may also prove helpful in lessening ED symptoms. In fact, there's one popular protein that we'd bet you already know and love that falls into this category: chicken.

Chicken is a great source of arginine

In addition to harboring a variety of vitamins and minerals, chicken is also a rich source of arginine, per Men's Health. This amino acid gets converted into nitric oxide (NO) by the body which prompts our blood vessels to relax and widen — a process known as vasodilation, according to a 2019 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Nitric oxide is thought to be the top contributing factor in attaining an erection. However, findings of a 2017 study published in Andrology found that out of 122 patients with erectile dysfunction, a substantial number had low levels of arginine. A lack of arginine means the less concentrated the body's nitric oxide becomes, potentially making one more prone to ED.

Eating foods packed with arginine may therefore improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. In 1 cup of roasted chicken breast, you'll find 2.62 grams of arginine, via the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While there are no dietary guidelines regarding the recommended daily intake for arginine, a 2016 study published in the scientific journal Nutrients found that most U.S. adults are consuming approximately 4.40 grams daily with one-quarter of adults getting less than 2.6 grams per day.

Arginine dosage amounts vary

This doesn't mean that you should overdo it on chicken or arginine supplements, however. While researchers from the previously mentioned 2019 study found that arginine supplements may be an effective treatment method for cases of mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) supplements.

The Cleveland Clinic noted that arginine supplement dosages can range from 6 grams to 30 grams. While this may seem like a wide range, Healthline reported that unpleasant side effects such as bloating, nausea, or diarrhea may set in after 9 grams and that those taking arginine specifically for ED may only need as little as 1.5 to 5 grams. Therefore, it's important to consult with a physician to determine the proper dose unique to each patient. Other ED treatment methods include oral prescription medications, injections, suppositories, penis pumps, penile implants, and more (via Mayo Clinic).