The Truth About Vitamins and Tinnitus

Mix of vitamins separated into different wooden spoons on a white background.

The truth about vitamins and tinnitus can feel elusive. If you grew up during a certain era, there’s one thing that comes to mind when you think of vitamins: The Flintstones. Advertising for the children’s chewable supplements was omnipresent. If that memory rings true, you might be of the mindset that vitamins can solve any problem, so long as you take them on a daily basis (hey, advertising works).

When you’ve lived your entire life hearing about the miraculous properties of vitamins, the notion that vitamins could cure a ringing in your ears might feel quite logical. But the reality is more complicated. The scientific basis behind vitamins as some kind of universal cure is… murky, at best. That’s why we’re exploring the truth behind vitamins and tinnitus.

Tinnitus and vitamin deficiency

Here’s the thing: if you aren’t getting enough vitamins, or the right vitamins in the right quantities, your body may suffer for it. That seems to be the case with some forms of tinnitus, for example. Evidence suggests that a lack of certain vitamins can cause the development of ringing and buzzing in the ears.

That finding tracks with a long and documented history of vitamin deficiency-caused ailments. For generations, sailors around the world would suffer from scurvy on long voyages. Eventually, someone discovered the “healing” properties of citrus. Today, we know that scurvy is caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency, a property which the citrus delivered in abundance.

The connection between tinnitus and vitamin deficiencies is not all that different. When your body, for whatever reason, does not receive the vitamins it needs, normal processes can break down. Sometimes the root cause may be biological (your body might have a hard time generating or processing a particular vitamin); in other cases, the root cause may be environmental (malnutrition, for example).

What vitamin deficiencies cause tinnitus?

Scurvy was traced back to a specific vitamin deficiency: Vitamin C. So is there an identified deficiency that causes tinnitus? Researchers have been attempting to discover the answer to that question for years, though no clear favorite has been identified. Some research suggests that a vitamin B12 deficiency is related to tinnitus.

Other research suggests that zinc levels tend to be lower in those who have non-hearing loss-related tinnitus. Zinc is technically a mineral (though, in colloquial conversations, vitamins and minerals are often conflated, so we’re going to count this one).

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to draw a single, clear path from either of these deficiencies to tinnitus. In part, that’s because tinnitus itself is a rather fluid ailment; the ringing and buzzing in your ear–even when not related to hearing loss–can have a myriad of causes.

But people think of vitamins as if they were the same thing as a pain medication. When you’re in pain, taking pain medication typically helps. But if you have tinnitus, taking a specific vitamin will only help if it’s both true that you have that vitamin deficiency and that’s what’s causing your tinnitus.

Is Tinnitus 911 safe?

The notion that vitamins are good for you (and they are) has lead to a proliferation of products that make pretty remarkable claims. One trendy supplement is called Tinnitus 911, which claims to alleviate tinnitus symptoms by offering you a cocktail of various vitamins. But is Tinnitus 911 safe?

Well, here’s the thing to remember about the usefulness of vitamins and minerals: they are not cures. Supplements only address deficiencies. Your body has a limit in terms of how much of any given vitamin it can absorb. Think of it like a glass–you can’t fill a glass more than 100% full. You just end up spilling on the counter or causing side effects.

Your body’s relationship with most vitamins and minerals is similar. (Indeed, getting too much of certain vitamins or minerals can actually cause additional health issues–some of them serious.) That’s why supplements are effective only for individuals trying to address a deficiency and should be discussed with your specialist.

So should I keep taking vitamins?

If you’re having trouble managing your vitamin and mineral levels, it might be worth speaking to a physician–first to confirm you have deficiencies and to find out the best way to address those deficiencies.

Whether supplements are the right approach to treat your tinnitus depends on a wide variety of factors, including your diet, your overall health, and the severity of your symptoms. Making those treatment choices is a decision you should make with your specialist. Usually, getting your vitamins and minerals from natural food sources is preferred.

And that’s the truth about vitamins and tinnitus.

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