Tinnitus and Diet

Split photo. Left half white male ear. Right half colorful foods including oranges, grape tomatoes, and spinach

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Tinnitus affects 10-15% of the adult population and increases with age (1). It is the third worst symptom for humans (2)

Tinnitus patients frequently seek out alternative treatments since no cure exists. This article will explore how nutrients relate to tinnitus and whether any dietary patterns exist to manage tinnitus. 

Tinnitus Basics 

Tinnitus is a phantom sound heard in one or both ears. It may be continuous or intermittent. 

Tinnitus impacts quality of life for many since it frequently leads to anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, and/or insomnia. 

Tinnitus and Diet

Sufferers of tinnitus commonly seek out alternatives to manage tinnitus symptoms, as no cure is currently available.  Diet may have a small impact on tinnitus (3)

List of nutrients associated with tinnitus: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamin B12, fiber, vitamin D, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, calcium, iron, water
Nutrients Associated with Tinnitus

Protein

High protein diets may decrease the likelihood of tinnitus (4). Protein foods include beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, legumes, tofu, milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. 

Fat

High fat intake is associated with increased incidence of tinnitus (5). This may be related to hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol) being a risk factor for tinnitus, which a high fat diet can contribute too.  

High fat foods include butter, oils, baked goods, and fried foods.

Carbohydrates

Following a lower carbohydrate diet may improve tinnitus for those with increased levels of insulin being released from their pancreas into their blood (6).  

Improved blood glucose levels may prevent tinnitus exacerbation in diabetics (7). Individually adjusting carbohydrates could be beneficial for those with diabetes and tinnitus.

Examples of carbohydrate foods include bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash, cakes, cookies, and pies. 

Caffeine

Caffeine restriction or abstinence does not show any significant improvement of tinnitus (8).  Withdrawl from caffeine may actually worsen tinnitus symptoms (9)

It is actually possible that caffeine may be protective against tinnitus (10). Brewed coffee may help prevent tinnitus (11)

Sodium

Since sodium affects fluid balance it has been thought that salt restriction may improve tinnitus and hearing loss.  However, evidence does not support this theory (12)

Reducing salt intake may however positively impact hypertension (HTN), which is a risk factor for tinnitus. High sodium foods include luncheon meat, soups, gravies, bacon, sausage, boxed or canned foods.

Vitamin B12

Higher intake of vitamin B 12 has been associated with decreased likelihood of tinnitus. This is likely due to vitamin B12 deficiency being a possible cause for tinnitus (13)

Those with tinnitus and vitamin B12 deficiency may experience an improvement in tinnitus symptoms with increased vitamin B12 intake and/or supplementation.  

Food sources of vitamin B12 include smoked salmon, milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, beef liver, and fortified nutritional yeast.

Fiber

Since fiber benefits vascular health and hearing loss, it may play a role in tinnitus prevention. Particularly, cereal fiber may be protective against age related hearing loss as well as tinnitus (14).

Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, oatmeal, some breakfast cereals, whole wheat pastas, whole wheat bread. 

Vitamin D

Multiple mechanisms exist in which vitamin D may impact tinnitus. Vitamin D deficiency is common among those with tinnitus. 

Improved vitamin D levels may decrease the impact of tinnitus (15). Tinnitus patients could benefit from having vitamin D levels assessed.

Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, salmon, egg yolk, milk, and fortified juices. 

Vitamin B2

Decreased intake of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may increase the risk of tinnitus (16).  Food sources of vitamin B2 include yogurt, milk, fortified oatmeal, almonds, and eggs. 

Vitamin B3

Declined intake of vitamin B3 (Niacin) may increase tinnitus risk (17). Chicken breast, turkey breast, brown rice, and peanuts have niacin.  

Calcium

High calcium intake is associated with increased incidence of tinnitus (18). Calcium is most commonly in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other sources include fortified orange juice, collard greens, and chia seeds. 

Iron

High intake of iron has been associated with higher incidence of tinnitus (19). Iron rich foods include fortified oatmeal, beef, lentils, and spinach. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a decreased risk of tinnitus (20). This may be related to their fiber intake and/or that they are sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Hydration

Decreased water intake may increase tinnitus risk (21). Adequate hydration is essential for many body processes. 

Increase water intake by keeping a filled water bottle handy, taking frequent sips throughout the day, and eating hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables. 

Final Thoughts

Only weak evidence exists to indicate that diet quality has an impact on tinnitus (22). Some research suggests associations between certain nutrients and tinnitus, however clear diet recommendations are unable to be made at this time.

Unfortunately diet modifications are not a cure for tinnitus. Strong evidence does not yet exist to indicate that increasing or decreasing nutrients mentioned in this article will have a significant impact on tinnitus. 

It may be helpful to track foods and tinnitus symptoms to observe for any potential patterns. Individualized diet modifications based on this tracking may be more beneficial for tinnitus management, than increasing or eliminating specific nutrients. 

Check out this article regarding tinnitus and supplements. 

1 thought on “Tinnitus and Diet”

  1. Thanks for this article! You pinpointed some very helpful tips for tinnitus! Seriously, I haven’t even heard of some of these, so I want thank you for your work. How long have you studdied this for?

    I was wondering if you ever heard of Cortexi? It might help people with their tinnitus.

    Cortexi has shown potential in providing relief and managing its symptoms. By targeting brain function and neural communication, Cortexi may help reduce the perceived intensity of tinnitus sounds and improve overall auditory processing. The supplement’s cognitive-enhancing properties could enhance focus and attention, allowing individuals to better cope with tinnitus-related distractions. Additionally, Cortexi’s potential to support brain health may contribute to the prevention or mitigation of conditions that can worsen tinnitus symptoms. While further research is needed, Cortexi offers a promising avenue for individuals seeking relief from the effects of tinnitus on their daily lives.

    If you’re interested you can check it out here: https://bit.ly/3IQUdt0

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