Vitamin A Has Role in Hearing and Ear Infections. Vitamin A’s role in hearing has been investigated by Richard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California at Davis. Dr. Chole wanted to see what would happen to the inner ear of animals deprived of vitamin A. The inner ear, or cochlea, is a spiral cavity shaped like a small snail shell. It is filled with fluid and sensory nerves that transmit sound to the brain.
In the first part of his study, Dr. Chole found that after four weeks without vitamin A, baby rats developed bony overgrowths of the cochlea. After 12 weeks this bony growth had caused a generalized narrowing of nerve and blood passageways in the inner ear—changes that could impair hearing (Otolaryngology (ear, nose, throat, neck, head), July-August, 1978).
These findings help explain the beneficial effects of vitamin A supplementation on hearing. For example, M. Joseph Lobel, M.D., a New York City physician, reported dramatic improvement in hearing among patients given vitamin A alone or in conjunction with vitamin B complex. Results in 300 patients on whom this therapy was used indicated an average gain of hearing in the left ear of 18.9% and in the right ear of 17.3%. Two hundred and forty nine patients showed very definite gains in hearing of conversational tones (Archives of Otolarynogoly, vol. 53, 1951).
Dr. Chole also found evidence that vitamin A is necessary for the normal function of the middle ear. Without it, middle ear infections (otitis media) may develop. Dr Chole says, “Under normal conditions mucus in the ear automatically traps dirt and bacteria and flushes it down the eustachian tube into the throat, where it is swallowed. This is how the ear cleans itself. In an A deficiency, not enough mucus is produced, and it doesn’t get to the right places.”
In experiments with rats, Dr. Chole found that depriving them of vitamin A resulted in the breakdown of the epithelium—the moist protective layer of cells which lines the middle ear. It became scaly, stopped producing mucus, and lost its ability to flush the ear clean. The result was an ear infection (Western Journal of Medicine, vol. 133, 4, 1980).
In many cases of middle ear infection the physician inserts tubes into the ears to assist drainage. Middle ear infections are the body’s way of telling us that we need more vitamin A not tubes. Supplemental A helps restore the normal health and function of the middle ear the natural way. As long as sufficient amounts of vitamin A are obtained, the middle ear will keep itself clear and eliminate the pain and expense of infections.
For many years the American public has been bombarded with scare tactics about taking too much vitamin A. Consequently, much of our nation is deficient, as indicated by the national surveys, and by the prodigious amount of cancer, skin problems, ear infections, etc. For the few isolated problems that have occurred with sensitive people, a campaign of hysteria against this all-important nutrient has been promoted, making those who are desperately in need of larger amounts shy away from the very thought of it. There are actually very few cases of A poisoning on record, and such cases are easily remedied, just by stopping intake.
The RDA for A is 4,000 or 5,000 IU per day, depending on sex and age. Is this enough? RDA’s are based on nutritional studies establishing the absolute minimums necessary to keep one alive. They have nothing to do with optimum levels needed for vibrant good health. Cancer researchers such as the late Dr. Harold Manner of Loyola University have giver more than one million units of vitamin a per day to cancer patients, with beneficial results and no side effects. They found it necessary, however, to use the water miscible form of vitamin A in order to prevent toxicity. Vitamin-A 10,000 IU ‘Water Miscible’ Faster More Efficient Absorption Than ‘Water Soluble’.