Hearing loss is a very common medical condition, believed to affect more than 28 million Americans. It can be caused by multiple factors including aging, excessive exposure to loud noise, illness, chemicals or physical trauma - or any combination of these.
Animal studies have already shown that intake of antioxidant vitamins along with magnesium can protect against hearing loss. A recent study looked at the association between daily intake of the antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene and vitamins C and E and magnesium on hearing thresholds in US adults.
Data on hearing thresholds was assessed from over 2500 participants aged 20 to 69 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This study clearly showed that higher intakes of magnesium along with beta-carotene and vitamin C were associated with better hearing thresholds. In other words, dietary intake of antioxidants and magnesium is associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.
Similarly, studies have shown that a lack of folic acid, a B vitamin, is linked to susceptibility to age-related hearing problems. For example, a Dutch study reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related low frequency hearing loss in middle-aged people, suggesting that supplementing with folic acid may help to lessen this type of hearing loss.
Sensori-neural hearing loss (SSNHL) is another type of hearing loss - one that can happen suddenly, without warning. In such cases, a person typically experiences complete or partial loss of hearing in one or both ears.
Occasionally, a viral upper respiratory infection or very loud noise may precede SSNHL. In such cases, hearing can recover within a twenty-four hour period if attended to. However, if not treated properly, hearing loss may become a permanent condition.
Some doctors prescribe Niacin, another B vitamin which seems to improve blood circulation to the inner ear, to treat SSNHL. Niacin may also help some people with tinnitus, but only if their condition was originally caused by circulation problems.