For many of us, hearing loss is an unfortunate part of life.
If you have an elderly family member, then you may have noticed a few changes in their hearing abilities.
Maybe they turn the TV up way too loud, or you have to speak to them a little louder than you’re used to. If you’re on the phone with them, they might ask you to repeat what you’re saying. Or, they may have complained about ringing sounds in their ears.
These are all common symptoms of age-related hearing loss.
In America, around two percent of people will experience some hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 50. And by the time they’re 75, there’s a 50 percent chance that they’ll have hearing loss that is considered to be a disability .
But can you take vitamins and supplements to decrease your odds of hearing loss as you get older? Or, if you’ve already lost some of your hearing ability, is there a way to restore it?
The research is still ongoing, but there is some encouraging preliminary evidence.
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Here, we’ll delve deeper into why we experience hearing loss as we age, as well as some of the best supplements available that may boost your ear health and prevent hearing loss to some extent.
Why do we lose hearing as we age?
If we can better understand what causes us to lose our hearing ability, we might be in a better position to take preventative steps.
Here are the most common factors involved in hearing loss.
Repeated exposure to noise
Repeated exposure to noise is the primary reason why most people experience hearing loss.
It makes sense that by the time someone is 75 years old, they’ve been more exposed to loud noises than someone in their 40s, making them more susceptible to hearing loss.
But it’s not only age. According to the CDC, nearly 22 million Americans are exposed to loud noises at the workplace , increasing their odds of developing hearing loss. A few examples are construction workers, miners, soldiers in combat, and even musicians.
According to a study published in the journal of Cell Metabolism , a part of the inner ear called the cochlea, which is responsible for transmitting sound to the brain, gets damaged over time through repeated exposure to loud noises.
Damage to the cochlea can result in hearing loss among older adults, or those exposed to excessively loud noises.
Lifestyle factors, like regularly listening to music too loudly through your earphones, can also harm nerve cells in your ears.
There are two components to oxidative stress. Free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are molecules that contain oxygen with an uneven number of electrons, which makes it easier for them to react with other molecules and cause chain reactions in your body.
Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, causing them to stabilize and become less reactive.
When there’s an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, there is oxidative stress. This is why many nutritionists recommend eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants.
When it comes to ear health, oxidative stress may also play a role in hearing loss.
Increased oxidative stress can play a significant role in the damage of hair cells in your ears . Factors that may contribute to oxidative stress are noise, heavy metals, certain medications (see below), radiation, and aging .
Medications causing hearing loss
Certain medications may cause damage to your ears and affect your hearing ability. As we explained above, drugs may promote oxidative damage to your ear cells, which could lead to hearing loss.
Some of these are potentially life-saving drugs, and people accept hearing loss as an unfortunate side effect if that helps them manage a much more severe condition.
If you are aware of the potential side effects, you can speak to your ENT doctor about your options if you do have to take any of these medications.
Here are some common drugs that may lead to potential hearing loss :
- Several antibiotics
- Chemotherapy medications
- Erectile dysfunction medicine
Other causes of hearing loss
Besides noise, oxidative stress, and medications, other factors may also hurt your hearing ability.
Underlying medical conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases can affect blood flow to your ears and cause hearing loss.
If you’ve suffered physical trauma to the ears or your skull, your hearing might be affected as well.
Finally, infections can cause temporary hearing loss, but it gets resolved after you recover from the infection.
Now that we’ve covered some of the causes of hearing loss let’s look at some of the best supplements to support your overall ear health.
What are the best supplements that may prevent hearing loss?
Noise is a part of life, especially if you live in a city, or if it’s a part of your job.
While you can’t avoid noise, you can support your ears (and overall health) with the right nutrients, and leave them better prepared to be protected from hearing loss.
Another thing to note is that supplements, unlike medications, only work when taken consistently. So, if you’re at a higher risk for hearing loss, either due to age or occupation, then you may want to start taking some vitamins while your hearing is still intact.
If you’ve already lost some of your hearing, some of the supplements we discuss below may reverse part of the damage.
Here are some of the best supplements you can take to potentially prevent hearing loss.
Thorne Research is a leader when it comes to trusted supplement brands. They are often recommended by medical professionals, and they are partnered with many of the U.S. National Sports Teams. Thorne supplements are clinically studied and made with the best ingredients.
Their NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) supplement is a potent amino acid that promotes the production of the powerful antioxidant Glutathione. It protects against liver damage, supports respiratory health, and has other beneficial effects on the body .
But NAC may also benefit ear health.
As we explained above, oxidative stress can play a role in damaging ear cells. There is some evidence that suggests NAC can protect against oxidative stress and prevent hearing loss.
In one study conducted by the Catholic University of Rome , animals were divided into two groups.
One group was given NAC, and a control group was assigned a saline solution. Then, both groups of animals were exposed to 30 minutes of noise trauma for seven days.
The group that received NAC had a significantly lower reduction of hair cells in the ears compared to the control group, suggesting that NAC may be able to protect against the toxic effects of loud noise.
In a separate human study with 23 military officers, NAC seemed to reduce damage to the cochlea after a shooting session in a bunker-style room .
So, although it is typically not used as a hearing loss supplement, the evidence we have so far seems to suggest that NACs antioxidant effects can play a protective role against damage to ear cells.
ReservaCel is another high-quality supplement from Thorne Research that may protect the health of your ears.
The primary ingredient in ReservaCel is Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), which is an alternative form of vitamin B3.
The reason NR may be effective in preventing hearing loss has a lot to do with a protein in your body called sirtuin 3 (SIRT3).
Research has shown that SIRT3 is involved in how well your ear cells function. And we also know that we lose SIRT3 with age and prolonged exposure to noise.
Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) can increase SIRT3 activity, and thus prevent, or in some cases potentially reverse, hearing loss .
According to research conducted by Weill Medical College in Cornell University, NR boosts SIRT3 through a chemical known as NAD, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.
Recently, NAD has been gaining prominence due to its potential in the field of anti-aging. But NAD also works to boost SIRT3 levels.
In the Cornell study, researchers found that NR was able to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in mice by boosting NAD and SIRT3 activity. The results of the study also suggested that NR prevented hearing loss even when administered after the mice were exposed to noise.
One thing to note is that researchers chose to study the effects of NR, and not NAD, because NR is better absorbed by the body. Since NR acts to boost NAD, you can still experience the benefits of NAD through an NR supplement like ReservaCel.
Pure Encapsulations is another highly rated supplement brand. They source the best ingredients, and they regularly work with healthcare professionals to produce supplements backed by research.
Magnesium is an incredibly vital mineral that supports more than 300 biochemical functions in your body. It plays a role in proper muscle and nerve function, maintaining a healthy immune system, promoting cardiovascular health, and in many other functions in your body.
Magnesium and hearing loss
There’s some evidence that suggests that Magnesium can also play a role in preventing noise-related hearing loss. It may also protect you from ototoxicity, which is what causes hearing loss from certain medications.
One Israeli study looked into the effects of Magnesium on people with sudden hearing loss, which can be caused by noise, aging, infections, or trauma .
In the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 28 patients with a sudden loss of hearing were divided into two groups. One group was given steroids and magnesium, and the other group was given steroids and a placebo.
The group that received magnesium had a significantly higher proportion of patients with improved hearing compared to the placebo group.
Experts have also suggested that magnesium deficiency can leave someone more vulnerable to hearing loss due to toxicity from medications; like antibiotics or chemotherapy medications .
As the evidence suggests, magnesium is critical for ear health, as well as overall health.
The best sources of magnesium are fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, kale, spinach, blueberries, as well as some seafood like wild-caught salmon.
But unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is prevalent in the United States and many other parts of the developed world. One of the primary reasons being our diet which is often full of unhealthy processed foods, and lacking in fruits and vegetables.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost three-quarters of the American population don’t meet the daily requirement of 420 mg of Magnesium .
If you’re part of the 75 percent of Americans who don’t get adequate dietary magnesium, you can take a supplement instead.
We recommend Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate for two reasons.
Pure Encapsulations is a trusted supplement brand that is highly rated by customers. And glycinate is a type of magnesium that is best absorbed by your body , which could enhance its positive effects on your hearing abilities.
For our next hearing loss supplement recommendation, we return to Thorne Research with their Q-Best 100 supplement.
The primary ingredient in Q-Best 100 is 100 mg of Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10.
CoQ10 is a compound that plays a role in generating energy for your cells to function optimally. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked with several health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, and even cancer .
CoQ10 is produced by your body naturally, but production decreases with age.
When it comes to hearing loss, there is some evidence that points to CoQ10 as a protective agent against it.
Researchers at Kanazawa Medical University in Japan wanted to study the effects of CoQ10 on the inner ear, which is critical for our hearing abilities.
They gave CoQ10 to guinea pigs with acute hearing loss due to the loss of oxygen. The study found that CoQ10 both helped in recovery from damage to the inner ear hair cells, as well as in preventing damage to other cells in the inner ear .
Another Italian study looked at the effects of CoQ10 on those who had suffered hearing loss due to oxidative stress from medications (also known as ototoxicity). They gave CoQ10, along with a multivitamin, to patients who were undergoing chemotherapy .
The results from the study suggested that both CoQ10 and the multivitamin had antioxidant effects against the oxidative stress to prevent hearing loss because of the chemotherapy medications
For our final hearing loss supplement, we recommend NOW Foods Ginkgo Biloba 120 mg supplement.
You may have heard of Ginkgo because of its prevalence in Chinese medicine, and its benefits for mood disorders, cognitive function, and improved cardiovascular health.
But Ginkgo is also a powerful antioxidant that can improve your ear health and prevent hearing loss.
Experts believe that sometimes poor circulation can lead to a sudden loss of hearing, which may be prevented by supplementing with Ginkgo .
Final thoughts on hearing loss supplements
For all the reasons we mentioned before, many people accept hearing loss as a part of getting older. Due to a lifetime of exposure to noise, medications, and other stresses, they expect to lose some of their hearing ability.
And in some cases, that might be unavoidable. Especially for people in occupations that expose them to loud noises repeatedly for many years of their lives.
But for the vast majority of us, we can take steps to protect our hearing abilities even as we get older. And the sooner we start, the better our odds are of being able to hear well later in our lives.
We can take protective measures such as wearing ear plugs when we’re around excessively loud noises, like at some concerts or nightclubs. There are several special earplugs made to discretely prevent hearing damage during loud music events like Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs & Eargasm earplugs. Or, we could turn down the music a little bit when we have our earphones on.
But if you want to go one step further and really boost your ear health to protect your hearing, consider one or more of the hearing loss supplements discussed in this article. But before you begin taking any supplements, be sure to consult with your doctor, especially if you’re currently on any medications.
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Products mentioned in this article
- Thorne Research - NAC (Formerly Cysteplus) - N-Acetylcysteine for Liver Support, Detoxification, and Immune Function - 90 Capsules
- Thorne Research - ResveraCel - Nicotinamide Riboside (Niagen) with Resveratrol and Cofactors - Supports Healthy Aging - 60 Capsules
- Pure Encapsulations - Magnesium (Glycinate) - Supports Enzymatic and Physiological Functions* - 180 Capsules
- Thorne Research - Q-Best 100 - Patented Crystal-Free CoQ10 Supplement for Heart Health and Cellular Energy Production - 60 Gelcaps
- NOW Supplements, Ginkgo Biloba 120 mg, Double Strength, Non-GMO Project Verified, 200 Veg Capsules
- Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs - Invisible Ear Plugs For Concerts, Musicians, Motorcycles, Airplanes, Raves, Work Noise Reduction, Hearing Protection - Fits Small Medium Large - As Seen On Shark Tank
- Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs for Concerts Musicians Motorcycles Noise Sensitivity Conditions and More (Ear Plugs Come in Premium Gift Box Packaging) - Blue
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