15 December 2008

Vitamins against hearing loss?

Some day in the not too distant future, you may just take a pill or eat a snack to prevent hearing damage before you go to a noisy event. Experiments with guinea pigs indicated that certain combinations of vitamins and magnesium may reduce or even prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Vitamins against hearing loss?

The prospect of high doses of vitamins and magnesium potentially preventing hearing damage from excessive noise exposure would be great news for industrial workers, farmers, musicians, pilots and other professional groups, exposed to loud noise. The same goes for all those among us who enjoy noisy leisure activities. So far, the beneficial effects of high doses of vitamins and magnesium have been demonstrated in experiments with guinea pigs, conducted by researchers at University of Michigan in the United States.

Guinea pigs fed vitamins

The American researchers fed mixtures of vitamins A, C and E and magnesium to the guinea pigs before the test animals were exposed to noise as loud as a jet plane on take-off. The guinea pigs continued to receive the vitamin and mineral mixture for another five days after the noise exposure.

Three guinea pig control groups were fed only magnesium, only vitamins or neither magnesium or vitamins for the same period of time. The guinea pigs receiving the mixture of vitamins and magnesium were found to have significantly less hearing loss than those in the control groups.

”The combination of vitamins and magnesium was found to effective,” explained Colleen G. Le Prell, one of the scientists behind the experiment.

Effective and safe

The beneficial effect of the vitamins and magnesium mixture stems from the vitamins being antioxidants with the ability to combat so-called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules which break down the body's healthy chemicals and organs. Scientists have known for a long time that free radicals play a significant role in noise-induced hearing loss. They form during and after exposure to excessive noise and damage the inner ear.

Le Prell and her co-researchers describe the vitamin for hearing loss prevention as effective and safe. The three vitamins and magnesium are all well-known and harmless substances, already used in other connections than for the prevention of hearing loss.

Next step: Human trials

The next step will be testing the treatment on humans. If these trials are successful, the researchers believe that a vitamin based hearing loss prevention product could be on the market within a few years, perhaps in the form of a pill or a snack.

Sources: Free Radical Biology & Medicine; University of Michigan.
Published on hear-it on December 15, 2008.

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