Calming Your Life & Tinnitus with Magnesium
By Barry Keate
Barry Keate, has lived with tinnitus over 40 years and has published 150+ research articles on numerous aspects of tinnitus. He is an expert on the condition and a well-known advocate for those with tinnitus.
Magnesium is a mineral absolutely necessary for robust human health. It is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body. It has also been found to prevent hearing loss during noise exposure and is helpful in lowering tinnitus sounds due to hearing loss.
A recent systematic review of various agents for the prevention of noise-induce hearing loss after noise exposure found magnesium to be effective in preventing hearing loss. (1) Another clinical trial of magnesium found, “Magnesium…exhibits a statistically significant oto-neuro-protective action (inner ear protection) in noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.” (2) A phase two study examining magnesium’s effect on existing tinnitus found, “Magnesium may have a beneficial effect on perception of tinnitus-related handicap when scored with the THI.” (3)
How Magnesium Protects Against Tinnitus
Michael Seidman, MD, in his excellent article, “Medicines to Treat Inner Ear Disorders” states; “Decreased blood supply causes significant stress to the nerve tissue (of the inner ear) by causing the production of free radicals. (Author’s note: The major causes of tinnitus all result in decreased blood supply.) These molecules are extremely damaging and are known to be responsible for over 100 human disorders. The accumulation of free radicals severely damages the inner ear and other tissues. Through a complex chain of events, this damage can then cause a release and accumulation of glutamate and calpains. These chemicals in high concentration are extremely destructive to the body.
“Studies have shown that excessive glutamate may play a role in the production of tinnitus. Studies also show that glutamate antagonists can have a protective effect on the inner ear and possibly be a treatment for peripheral tinnitus, that which is generated by the inner ear. The protective effect of magnesium in preventing noise-induced hearing loss has been studied since it was found that magnesium in inner ear fluid decreases significantly after intense noise exposure.
Why Magnesium is Necessary for Good Health
Magnesium may be the most commonly deficient mineral in human nutrition. It is known as the calming or anti-stress mineral and is very important to many human functions. Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell of the body. About half of the body’s stores are found inside cells of body tissues and organs, and half are combined with calcium and phosphorus in bone.
Only 1 percent of the magnesium in the body is found in blood. The body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant. Because the body easily eliminates excess magnesium, toxicity is nearly unknown, although an excess can cause loose stools or diarrhea. Deficiency is quite common and can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, irritability and insomnia.
The key body functions of magnesium are:
- Relaxes the muscles, including the heart;
- Works in concert with enzymes to carry out metabolic functions, including protein synthesis, energy production and neuromuscular function;
- Used for anxiety, high blood pressure, poor sleep, asthma attacks, menstrual and muscle cramps and abnormal heartbeats.
Magnesium Reduces Blood Pressure
There are several clinical trials that show magnesium has a positive effect on reducing elevated blood pressure levels. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and stress are three of the primary aggravators of tinnitus. One study concludes, “Our meta-analysis detected dose-dependent blood pressure reductions from magnesium supplementation.” (4) Another found “. . .calcium and magnesium may represent important components in the combination diet of the DASH study. It seems that it is the combination of these nutrients that is of crucial importance for the achievement of optimal blood-pressure reduction.” (5) Finally, a third study states, “These findings suggest that Magnesium supplementation prevents blood pressure elevation. . . “(6)
Magnesium is very helpful in combination with calcium. Dr. Seidman also states, “Calcium supplementation has been shown to improve tinnitus symptoms in certain patients. In conjunction with magnesium, calcium also plays a vital role in the regulation of electrical impulses in the central nervous system.” (7)
Eat Your Green Veggies
Green vegetables such as spinach provide magnesium because the center of the chlorophyll molecule contains it. Nuts, seeds, and some whole grains are also good sources of magnesium. Although magnesium is present in many foods, it usually occurs in small amounts. As with most nutrients, daily needs for magnesium cannot be met from a single food. Eating a wide variety of foods, including five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and plenty of whole grains, helps to ensure an adequate intake of magnesium. The magnesium content of refined foods is usually low. Whole-wheat bread, for example, has twice as much magnesium as white bread because the magnesium-rich germ and bran are removed when white flour is processed.
Doctors measure blood levels of magnesium whenever a deficiency is suspected. When levels are mildly depleted, increasing dietary intake of magnesium can help restore blood levels to normal. Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and choosing dark-green leafy vegetables often, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Food Guide Pyramid, and the Five-a-Day program, will help adults consume recommended amounts of magnesium. Magnesium tablets also may be prescribed, but some forms, in particular magnesium salts, can cause diarrhea.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for adult men and 320 mg for adult women. Some forms of magnesium are not absorbed well so a good product must be used. Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Aspartate are both high quality products with good absorption profiles.
1 – Gupta A, Koochakzadeh S, Nguyen S, et. Al. Pharmacological Prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: A Systematic Review. Otol Neurotol 42:2-9, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33229875/
2 – Ehrenberger K, Felix D. Receptor Pharmacological Models for Inner Ear Therapies with Emphasis on Glutamate Receptors: a Survey. Acta Otolaryngol 1995 Mar:115(2):236-40. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7610812/
3 – Phase Two Study Examining Magnesium Dependent Tinnitus. University of Arizona College of Medicine, 5/1/2012. https://repository.arizona.edu/handle/10150/221385
4 – Jee SH, Miller ER 3rd, et al, The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure; a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials, Am J Hypertens 2002 Aug;15(8):691-6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12160191/
5 – Suter PM, Sierro C, Vetter W, Nutritional factors in the control of blood pressure and hypertension, Nutr Clin Care 2002 Jan-Feb;5(1):9-19 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12134718/
6 – Berthon N, Laurant P, et al, Magnesium supplementation and deoxycorticosterone acetate-salt hypertension: effect on arterial mechanical properties and on activity of endothelin-1, Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2002 Jun;80(6):553-61 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12117304/
7- Seidman M, Alternative management of tinnitus, Tinnitus Today; December 1999:11-13