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18.06.2009


Lecithin supplement keeps hearing sharp

Are you fond of listening to free radical noise on your iPod? Or do you drive around in one of those boom-box cars, with the music so loud that the cobblestones shake loose? If the answer is yes, then you might be interested in the article published by American researchers in Otolaryngology | Head and Neck Surgery. According to the authors, lecithin supplements protect the hearing.


Lecithin supplement keeps hearing sharp


Decline in hearin
There's a popular theory that decline in hearing due to aging or high noise levels is caused by free radicals which arise in the hearing organs. Damage of the hearing by free radicals is a consequence of the ageing proces and exposure to loud noise. Free radicals damage membranes and genetic material in the mitochondria, the cells' power packs.

Millions of years ago mitochondria were probably separate cells, which at some point started to live symbiotically with other cells. Mitochondria still have their own DNA.

Study
The researchers, working at the Henry Ford Health System, gave a group of eighteen-month-old rats feed with added lecithin every day for six months. The rats got a daily dose of 300 mg of lecithin per kg bodyweight. [Human equivalent: 3 grams a day.] A control group was given normal feed. Lecithin contains phospholipids, which find their way to the body's membranes.

The researchers were interested in finding out whether they could reduce damage caused by free radicals and thus delay the ageing process.

At the end of the six months the rats had reached the age of two, and were old in rat terms. At this point the researchers tested the rats' hearing. By measuring the activity of the auditory nerve they determined how loud a noise needed to be before the brain registered it.

Results
The figure below shows that the rats that had been given lecithin needed only about half the decibel level to register noise compared to the other rats.


Lecithin supplement keeps hearing sharp


The researchers then looked at the way the lecithin supplement worked. When they extracted mitochondria membranes from tissues in the rats' hearing organs, they noticed that the membranes of the lecithin rats functioned better.

To see whether this also protected the genetic material, the researchers also looked at how many deletions there were in the DNA of the mitochondria. The more deletions there are in mitochondrial DNA, the older it is.

In the figure below the grey bars represent the genetic material of the control group and the black bars the genetic material of the lecithin group. The longer the bars, the more deletions in the DNA in the brain, the auditory nerve and the stria vascularis, part of the hearing organ.


Lecithin supplement keeps hearing sharp


Conclusion
So lecithin delays the aging of the hearing organ, the researchers conclude. And therefore, they add, it is possible that lecithin also delays aging in other parts of the body.

More studies
Other studies, in which animals are exposed to high noise levels, have shown that nutrients such as magnesium and beta-carotene can prevent hearing damage. [Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 May 1;42(9):1454-63.] Dutch research also showed that folic acid pills delay decline in hearing in the elderly. [Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jan 2;146(1):1-9.]

Source:
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002 Sep;127(3):138-44.

More:
More fiber, less tinnitus 22.11.2021
Diet rich in magnesium, betacarotene and vitamins C and E protects your hearing 02.02.2014

Archives:
Phosphates
Hearing


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