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.
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 who are 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.
The researchers fed mixtures of vitamins A, C, 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 5 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,” says researcher Colleen G. Le Prell.
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 that break down the body’s healthy chemicals and organs. Scientists have long known 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 prevention as effective and safe.
The next step will be testing the treatment on humans. If these trials are successful, the researchers say that a 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, vol. 42, 2007; University of Michigan