Tinnitus is one of those annoying conditions that can leave you stressed, sleep deprived and unable to work productively. It involves ringing in the ears — for some people so loud that it affects their ability to function normally. But when it comes to supplements that have a connection to tinnitus, there are only two.
Tinnitus is a common problem of those who have hearing loss. It can involve ringing, buzzing, chirping, whooshing, humming, roaring or other noise. It can occur even if you've suffered a hearing loss so slight that you become aware of it only when examined by a trained hearing specialist.
Hearing loss occurs when tiny hair cells in your cochlea are damaged. You can't repair or regrow these hair cells, but a trained medical doctor who specializes in hearing may be able to give you options to help your tinnitus and rule out any potential serious causes.
Supplements and Tinnitus
One vitamin supplement that's been linked as a possible cause of tinnitus is vitamin D, but that's only from taking doses far higher than the recommended daily amount. If you've been taking high doses of vitamin D3 and you notice tinnitus that's worsening, cut back on your intake, or cut it out altogether, which may alleviate the problem. It's important, though, to check with your doctor before doing this.
Tinnitus is considered to be an early symptom of vitamin D intoxication associated with hypercalcemia, along with weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms. If you have these symptoms, you should avoid foods with calcium and contact your doctor. Hypercalcemia can develop into a very serious condition.
If you have tinnitus, you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. A study reported in Noise and Health looked at tinnitus patients. Those who were found to have a vitamin B12 deficiency saw their tinnitus symptoms lessened after they were given vitamin B12 therapy. The therapy consisted of intramuscular injections of 1 milliliter of vitamin B12 weekly for six weeks. Check with your doctor to see if you're deficient.
Read more: Causes of Palpitations and Tinnitus
Tinnitus: Difficult to Treat
The exact path of tinnitus is hard to trace, which makes this condition difficult to treat. While tinnitus is thought to be caused by hearing loss when cochlear hair cells are damaged, pinpointing the exact region of the damage has proved elusive.
Vitamin B12 may help because cochlear function depends on good vascular supply and the normal functioning of nerve tissue. Low levels of vitamin B12 may cause damage to the protective myelin sheath around neurons in the cochlear nerve. The protective myelin sheath surrounds nerve fibers in the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. When it's damaged, nerve impulses can slow or stop, causing neurological problems.
So the damaged myelin sheath around the cochlear nerve neurons may cause the degeneration and death of the neurons. The longer the condition goes without treatment, the more chance there is of permanent damage.
Read more: Exercises to Relieve Tinnitus
Reason for B12 Deficiency
Dietary habits can result in B12 deficiency. Vegetarians and those who consume few dairy products are more likely to be deficient. Another group of people who are likely to be vitamin B12 deficient are those with pernicious anemia, which affects 1 to 2 percent of adults. This is characterized by a lack of intrinsic factor, and they can't properly absorb vitamin B12 into the gastrointestinal tract. High doses of oral vitamin B12 or intramuscular supplements may be effective treatments.
Read more: Vegetarian Foods Rich in Vitamin B12
Also, up to 30 percent of older people have lower amounts of hydrochloric acid secreted into their stomachs, and this means they're less likely to be able to absorb vitamin B12. Also, lower hydrochloric acid levels might increase the growth of normal intestinal bacteria that use vitamin B12. That reduces the amount of vitamin B12 available to the body even more.
Without vitamin B12, your body won't make enough red blood cells, and the cells it does make will be too large. Red blood cells are needed to provide enough oxygen to tissues and organs. Without enough oxygen, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia.
Some Tinnitus Remedies
Some people with tinnitus try ginkgo biloba or the mineral zinc or magnesium with varying success. Common tinnitus remedies include white noise machines, hearing aids, masking devices and retraining your brain so you don't focus on the sound caused by tinnitus. Alternative remedies include acupuncture, hypnosis and stress avoidance, but there's little evidence that these work. The smartest step to take upon developing tinnitus is to see an otolaryngologist.
Read More: Exercises that Worsen Tinnitus
- Noise and Health: Therapeutic Role of Vitamin B12 in Patients of Chronic Tinnitus: A Pilot Study
- Mayo Clinic: Demyelinating Disease: What Can You Do About It?
- Mayo Clinic: Tinnitus
- Drugs.com: Drug Interactions Between Caltrate 600+D and Vitamin D3
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B12: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- WebMD: Understanding Tinnitus: Diagnosis and Treatment
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B12: Overview