Research into the effects of dietary supplements, such as vitamin B12, on tinnitus is limited. However, some older studies indicate that there may be a link between tinnitus and vitamin B12 deficiency.

Tinnitus refers to a ringing sound in the ears that has no external source. Some people may wish to try dietary supplements, such as vitamin B12, to help with the condition.

This article discusses whether vitamin B12 can treat tinnitus, the recommended daily intake for vitamin B12, treatment for tinnitus, and when to speak with a healthcare professional.

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Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for the nervous system that is available in animal products and some fortified foods.

People following a vegan or vegetarian diet often need to supplement with vitamin B12 to prevent deficiency, as they limit animal products in their diet. However, the majority of people in the United States obtain all the vitamin B12 they need from their diet.

According to a 2016 study, some people take dietary supplements such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B12 to help manage tinnitus. Just over 70% of the study participants reported no difference in tinnitus symptoms after taking dietary supplements.

Additionally, the authors suggested that participants who reported improvements after taking supplements may have experienced a placebo effect. Overall, the authors concluded that healthcare professionals should not recommend dietary supplements to manage tinnitus.

Research from 1993 found a possible link between low vitamin B12 levels and tinnitus in a sample of 112 people. The researchers found that 47% of people with noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus had vitamin B12 deficiency. In comparison, fewer people with noise-induced hearing loss (27%) or no hearing loss or tinnitus (19%) had vitamin B12 deficiency.

A 2013 study explained that low vitamin B12 levels could cause demyelination, which is damage to the protective coating of nerve fibers, or myelin.

Low levels of vitamin B12 damage the nerves in the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure in the ear that is vital for hearing. Deficient vitamin B12 levels may also lead to damage in the tiny blood vessels in the ear. Both factors could contribute to tinnitus symptoms.

Additionally, study participants with vitamin B12 deficiency and tinnitus reported a reduction in tinnitus symptom severity following therapy with vitamin B12 injections. However, study participants without vitamin B12 deficiency reported hardly any reduction in tinnitus symptom severity with the same therapy.

People with tinnitus may benefit from speaking with a doctor about their vitamin B12 intake. A healthcare professional can also provide guidance about using dietary supplements safely.

Getting enough vitamin B12 is vital as part of a balanced diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, these are the recommended amounts for different ages:

AgeRecommended amount in micrograms
Up to 6 months0.4
7–12 months0.5
1–3 years0.9
4–8 years1.2
9–13 years1.8
14–18 years2.4
19 years and older2.4

Vitamin B12 is present in a range of foods, including:

Dietary supplements are also available for those who do not consume enough vitamin B12 as part of their diet. A person should speak with their doctor before taking any dietary supplements.

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but doctors may recommend strategies to:

  • manage stress and improve sleep, as stress and poor sleep can contribute to tinnitus
  • help people process the emotional impact of tinnitus
  • cover up or soften the sound of tinnitus

Stress management

Stress may make tinnitus worse. People may be able to prevent tinnitus from getting worse by using stress management techniques.

For participants of a small 2018 study, practicing yoga reduced their stress levels and perceived tinnitus symptoms. Mindfulness meditation also reduced the severity of tinnitus and associated psychological distress, depression, and anxiety in participants of a 2017 study.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Tinnitus can be emotionally draining. However, therapists using CBT may teach people with the condition new ways to process and cope with the constant noise.

A 2020 review involving 28 trials found that CBT may moderately improve the quality of life for people with tinnitus, even if it does not reduce the sound.

Sound therapy

Some people with tinnitus may find that masking the ringing sound helps them reframe tinnitus as a neutral sound.

The authors of a 2020 review concluded that research is mixed on the effectiveness of sound masking and how to use it clinically, but that it might suppress the disruptive effects of tinnitus in some people. However, further research is necessary.

A doctor might also discuss the benefits of hearing aids with people whose tinnitus accompanies hearing loss. Some hearing aid products have sound-masking features that support tinnitus treatment.

Sleep improvement

For some people, sleeping through tinnitus symptoms can be difficult.

Taking melatonin was associated with a reduced severity of tinnitus and higher quality sleep in a limited 2016 study. However, people should speak with a healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements or medications to help improve sleep.

A person may also find taking steps to improve their sleep hygiene to be useful.

Not all tinnitus symptoms are ongoing or disruptive to daily life. For example, being around loud speakers at a concert may cause a person to experience temporary tinnitus symptoms.

However, a person should consider speaking with a doctor if tinnitus symptoms:

  • do not go away after a few weeks
  • interfere with work, sleep, or other factors that directly affect their quality of life
  • occur alongside hearing loss or other health conditions

Limited older research suggests that taking vitamin B12 supplements may help with tinnitus symptoms in people with vitamin B12 deficiencies. However, further studies are necessary, and a person should not take any dietary supplements without first speaking with a doctor.

Healthcare professionals may recommend CBT, stress management techniques, and sound therapy to help manage tinnitus symptoms.

If a person finds that their current management techniques are not reducing their tinnitus symptoms, they should speak with their doctor about possible alternatives.