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  • Writer's pictureTim Rees

Try This B Vitamin For Hearing Loss

Updated: May 3, 2023

After trying a million different supplements, this one has been a boon to my ear health.


Woman holding hand up to her ear to improve her hearing.
Image credit: Canva Pro Getty Images

I SUFFER FROM FLUCTUATING HEARING LOSS AND TINNITUS. These symptoms are all part of my trials with Meniere's disease. Over the years, I've tried a million different supplements, and every time I opened a new one I hoped for some magic. But I was disappointed almost every time. Almost.



 


B - Vitamins

There's more to supplements than just chugging them down like a drug. Generally speaking, it's not a good idea to conflate how drugs work with how supplements work.


For example, I've taken B vitamins for years, such as B complexes and individual vitamins (B1, B3 etc) but I hadn't taken them in the right therapeutic doses. It wasn't until I took B6 (pyridoxine) in much higher doses than I had before that I got a surprising benefit. Yes, a vitamin for hearing loss.


If you've read my article about reversing hearing loss with dietary change, you'll know that I believe my fluctuating hearing loss is caused by the formation of calcium oxalate crystals inside my inner ears. When I lower or eliminate oxalic acid containing foods from my diet, my hearing returns.


Oxalic acid inside the body can be an indicator of gut dysfunction because the damaging substance in foods shouldn't get inside the body, it should be excreted in stool. Excess or errant endogenous (made inside the body) production of oxalic acid includes but are not limited to, genetic factors, liver dysfunction, and fungal infection(?).


Vitamin B6 doesn't directly break down oxalates in the body. However, it plays an important role in the metabolism of a compound called glyoxylate, which is a precursor to oxalate. The liver produces an enzyme called glycolate oxidase (B6 dependent) which breaks down glyoxylate preventing its conversion into oxalic acid.

The liver also produces an enzyme called alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGT) which converts glyoxylate into glycine, an important amino acid that regulates neurotransmitters that can promote mental calmness and sleep. Glycine is also an important component of collagen which is itself critical for skin, hair, nails and connective tissues. Glycine also makes up the master antioxidant and detoxification molecule in cells called glutathione. When B6 is deficient, glyoxylate can't be converted into glycine because AGT is reliant on there being enough B6 around.


What I'm talking about here isn't a B6 deficiency, it's about the therapeutic application of supplementing high doses of B6.



 


How much?

Back in 1988, scientists used doses of pyridoxine (B6) at 5 mg per kg of body weight per day. Some patients were taking up to 400 mg per day, which means no one in the study weighed more than 80 kg. They were taking these doses for 18 months without side effects. Or I should probably point out, without obvious side effects.


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 100 mg per day is the upper tolerable level. But, according to the NHS (UK), that number is just 10 mg per day. They also mention that taking 200 mg per day may cause peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain or numbness).


Here's an abstract from a paper (2005) examining B6 toxicity:


'Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) causes neuropathy at intakes of 1000 mg per day or more, which is about 800 times the daily intake from foods. There have also been occasional reports of toxicity at intakes of 100-300 mg per day. The US authorities set the no-observed-adverse-effect-level at 200 mg per day and the safe upper limit at 100 mg per day. A report of neurotoxicity in 2 patients who had taken 24 mg and 40 mg of vitamin B6 per day respectively, may be coincidence rather than a true toxic effect of such relatively low doses. However, physicians need to remain alert to high intakes of vitamin B6 as a cause of unexplained neuropathy.'

As you can see, no one is really sure what level is safe below 1000 mg per day.



 


My own experience with vitamin B6 for hearing loss

I have personally taken 400 mg per day of pyridoxine for 6 months at a time and experienced no negative side effects at all, that I know of. For me, it made sense to experiment because I was never going to use it long-term.


I used it to get on top of my hearing, which happened within a few weeks and then I carried on with a low to moderately low level of dietary oxalates and a low carbohydrate (anti-fungal) diet to keep on top of the oxalates in my system. This worked for me. Maybe it will work for you.



 


Which form of B6

There are two forms available to buy as supplements, the first is pyridoxine HCL (pyridoxine hydrochloride) which is what we've been talking about up till now. That's classic B6 and must be converted by the liver into the useable form called pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P). Between about 70-80% of pyridoxine becomes P5P.


You can buy P5P as a supplement which means you can use a lower dose but it's twice the price so it's not worth it for most. However, those with liver disease who want to supplement B6 may benefit from the P5P form.


 

Where to buy vitamin B6

Pyridoxine HCL on Amazon US (affiliate link)

Pyridoxine HCL on Amazon UK (affiliate link)


P5P on Amazon US (affiliate link)

P5P on Amazon UK (affiliate link)


Or, try iherb.


These product links won't cost you a penny extra but I may get a small commission for recommending the product. If you appreciate the article and want to buy B6, using the relevant link is a nice way of thanking me. It's appreciated, thanks.


 

It's up to you

If you're going to try it, you MUST DECIDE FOR YOURSELF whether you want to experiment with therapeutic doses or not. Personally, I think the risks are low because if you experience a side effect you can stop the vitamin immediately.


If you take prescription drugs you should always check for interactions: here's a list.


Alternatively, you can try a low-carb, low-oxalate diet like my Find Your Triggers exclusion diet. In my experience, a low-oxalate diet helped my hearing after 3 weeks of being strict. I did have a rather brutal oxalate-dumping though, but that's another story.

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