One of my first assignments when I began my career as a health and beauty journalist was from Cosmopolitan magazine. They wanted me to write a story entitled Nutrition to Enrich Your Sex Life. (Well, it was Cosmo!! We’re not talking the National Review here!) While it is long gone from my files, I remember (for some odd reason) what I included in the first paragraph: For 3,000 years or so aphrodisiacs — named for Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love — have had a reputation for increasing male potency and female willingness. Then I went on to say how Chinese war lords, among others seeking extra zest to enhance their ‘amour” (to use magazine parlance), sipped the original ‘tiger’s milk.’ I’ll let you figure out what part of the tiger that supposedly came from. (Think male virility.) And they did the same for bulls, sharks, rams and rhinos.
In the article, I wondered why our ancestors continually quaffed such strange concoctions, especially when they risked bodily harm in hunting them down. And I took my query to Gaylord Hauser, one of the founding fathers of the American movement toward healthy eating. “Primitive people didn’t know it,“ I recall him telling me, “but their love potions often were highly nutritious, including eggs, snails, fish and especially oysters, all of which are full of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, they simply felt better.”
Even in those days, Dr. Hauser suggested that healthy food was the key to sexual vitality. In other words, a diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables that would keep you physically fit. “When you’re cranky, irritable and dependent on coffee for stimulation and wine for relaxation, you can’t be a good lover — no how many positions you can get into.” (Read: You’ll lie there like a figure on a stone sarcophagus). That may have been years and years ago. But some things never change.
That said, let’s fast forward to the present. Meet nutritional expert Doug Ingoldsby, known as the “Vitamin Professor” and founder of the ALLONE vitamin company. It was in fact his father James who worked with health guru Adele Davis, the founding mother of healthy eating, to create the first high-potency Vitamin C tablet and stress formula, in addition to Tiger’s Milk, in this case, the first ‘good for you’ candy bar. I told a friend at that time, “Forget about the candy, I’d like to meet the guy who milked the tiger.” (Of course, that was way before I married my own tiger, The Lawyer.)
“There are specific vitamins and minerals found in certain foods and supplements that have the power to regulate the levels of sex hormones in your body,” Doug says, “as well as the basic health of the sex glands.”
Ingoldsby breaks down the six libido boosters that he says can “shift your love life out of park and drive it back into the fast lane.” (I suspect he may have also written for Cosmo!) Below are his suggested tools — and comments.
1. Vitamin E:
“Vitamin E developed its reputation as a ‘sex vitamin’ after laboratory tests showed that when male animals were deprived of it, their testicles shrank. It increases the exchange of oxygen in the blood, which improves flow and circulation. Foods high in Vitamin E include sunflower seeds, chili, almonds, dark leafy greens and apricots.”
“New research suggests that phosphorus can amp up sex drive and responsiveness. Good sources of phosphorus are seafood, especially crabmeat and lobster, also truffles, eggs, wheat germ, wheat bran, legumes, nuts and seeds. This may also explain the traditional Eastern European affection for seeds and nuts as aphrodisiacs.”
“The zinc content of the prostate gland and sperm is higher than in any other body tissues. Zinc is necessary for the production of testosterone in both men and women and helps to maintain vaginal lubrication. Zinc-rich foods include beef, lamb, eggs, whole grains, legumes and shellfish. This may also account for the legendary effectiveness of oysters as an aphrodisiac.” (I should have been a psychic!)
4. Acetylcholine and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) supplements:
“Acetylcholine (ACH) is a neurotransmitter that triggers the sexual message in men and women. With too little ACH, sexual activity goes down. Choline and Vitamin B5 can safely and effectively enhance the body’s ACH levels. You can find choline in egg yolks, nuts, soybeans, flax, sesame seeds and cauliflower, and B5 in liver, whey protein, sundried tomatoes and avocados.”
“The amino acid L- arginine, which occurs naturally in food, boosts the body’s production of nitric oxide, a compound that is considered a sensory enhancing nutrient. It’s found in all proteins, the higher the protein content in a specific food, the more potent.”
6. Vitamin A, C, Selenium, Manganese, Linoleic Acid
“Vitamin A, selenium, manganese and linoleic acid are required for sex organs to convert cholesterol into hormones, like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, before being released into the blood stream to increase sexual desire. These vitamins, nutritionally in such foods as dark leafy greens, shellfish, chocolate, sunflower seeds and citrus fruit, are also responsible for the health of the mucous membranes as well as the entire epithelial package inside and out.”
Finally, I asked Doug if these nutrients could enhance the libido like, say, Viagra. (I know I posed this question on behalf of men – and women — everywhere.) “They may not create an instant response like a pharmaceutical agent,” he replied. “However, over time, it is possible to rebuild you sexual health.” (Huzzah!)