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Coenzyme - Q10 and Fish Oil Supplements Offer Protection Against Age Related Deafness

Updated on February 15, 2016
Hearing aids and cochlear implants are frequently required to treat deafness associated with aging
Hearing aids and cochlear implants are frequently required to treat deafness associated with aging | Source

Age Related Deafness or Presbycusis

Presbycusis, a word in the medical terminology is actually derived from Greek language (Presby means 'elder', and akousis is for 'hearing').

Hearing loss is associated with the physiological aging process in the ear. It usually begins to show at the age of 65 years, but may do so early if it is in your genes (heredity), due to long-term exposure to loud noise or generalized blood vessel disorder. It is more common in men than in women.

Causes of Presbycusis

  1. Heredity
  2. Atherosclerosis - Stiffening of arteries reduces blood flow and oxygen supply to the inner ear.
  3. Diet - Increased intake of saturated fat accelerates this process.
  4. Diabetes- It may cause swelling of the blood vessels, reducing blood supply to the ear.
  5. Smoking - It accelerates arterial hardening.
  6. High blood pressure - It leads to thickening of the wall of blood vessels, causing reduced blood supply to the cochlea of the ear.
  7. Ototoxic medicines - Aspirin has a damaging effect on the ear and its regular intake hastens the onset of deafness associated with aging.

Individuals with presbycusis have a great difficulty in hearing in the presence of background sounds though they may hear well in quiet surroundings. They may also complain of speech being heard but not understood.

All the sounds become intolerable when the volume is raised.

Tinnitus or ringing of ears is another common bothersome problem, and might be the only complaint in some cases.

There are four basic types of presbycusis, which include the following:

  1. Sensory - This is characterized by a gradual age-related degeneration of the hearing apparatus in the organ of Corti, the sense organ for hearing. In this condition, the high frequencies are affected, but speech discrimination remains good.
  2. Neural - In this case, the degeneration of sensory nerve fibers that carry the stimulus of sound to the brain occurs. This manifests as high tone loss. Speech discrimination is poor and out of proportion to the pure tone loss.
  3. Metabolic - It runs in families, and is characterized by degeneration of minute blood vessels that feed the inner ear.
  4. Cochlear conductive - This is due to stiffening of the membrane of the inner ear with age, thus affecting its movements and reducing the intensity of stimulus of sound that reaches the brain.

Curtailment of smoking and stimulants like tea and coffee may help reduce the tinnitus.

Normal treatment of age-associated deafness consists of cochlear implants.

Coenzyme-Q10 Supplementation Retards the Onset of Deafness in Early Stages

Also known as ubiquinone or ubidecarenone, it is an oil-soluble vitamin-like substance found in the mitochondria of almost each and every cell of our body.

Being a component of the electron transport chain, which is like a solar panel of our body, generating energy from the food that we eat, coenzyme-Q10 is found in highest concentrations in the heart, liver, and kidneys, the vital organs with highest energy requirements.

It occurs in fully oxidized (ubiquinone) and fully reduced (ubiquinol) forms. As an energy carrier, it constantly goes through an oxidation-reduction cycle. As it accepts free electrons, it becomes reduced. As it gives up electrons, it becomes oxidized.

Due to its antioxidant function, it absorbs and neutralizes reactive oxygen species and free radicals produced during various metabolic reactions. In this way, it prevents lipid peroxidation and damage of LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) and inhibits it from depositing in the inner lining of arteries to form plaques.

Regular intake of coenzyme Q10 supplements prevents arterial hardening, maintains the elasticity of blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, thus improves the blood flow to the inner ear and delays the degeneration of hearing apparatus that is associated with the aging process. In this way, it helps postpone the onset of hearing loss.

Other Health Benefits and Dietary Sources of Coenzyme-Q10

It is a crystalline powder insoluble in water.It is believed to increase our energy levels as it has a role in ATP generation, a molecule that functions like a rechargeable battery in the transfer of energy to the cells and maintain their vitality and optimal function.

The pancreatic enzymes and bile juices secreted in the small intestines facilitate emulsification and micelle formation that aid in its absorption. It is best absorbed when popped along with a fatty meal.

Its levels in the body are reduced with increasing age and smoking.

Some degenerative diseases like certain cancers and heart diseases are associated with reduced synthesis and increased requirement of coenzyme Q10, leading to its low levels. Its levels are also low in hereditary mitochondrial diseases.

Levels of endogenous Coenzyme Q10 are lowered in the body during statin therapy (cholesterol-lowering medicines) and with beta-blockers (blood pressure lowering medicines).

Other conditions in which it can be beneficial include the following:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Angina
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Gum diseases
  • Migraine headache
  • Statin myopathy
  • Breast cancer
  • Huntington's disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Increase exercise tolerance
  • Lyme disease

Meat and fish are the richest dietary sources of this provitamin. Olive oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pistachios and hazelnuts are also good sources. Dairy products contain very minute amounts of this antioxidant, while, in the list of leafy greens, parsley contains considerable amounts of Coenzyme Q10.

It is manufactured commercially by fermenting beets and sugarcane with a special strain of yeast.

Side Effects of Coenzyme-Q10 Supplementation and its Interactions With Other Medicines

It is a vitamin-like substance required for proper functioning of many organ systems and metabolic reactions in our body.

In supplement form, it is well tolerated even in doses as high as 3600 mg per day other than a few mild side effects like stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and an allergic skin rash in a few instances.

It can be used safely in doses of 1200 mg per day as are recommended to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Interactions :

  • Anticancer medicines - It reduces the efficacy of steroids and certain anti-cancer medicines when taken along with them.
  • Blood pressure lowering medicines - Since Coenzyme Q10 also helps in reducing blood pressure, so it has an additive effective with bp lowering drugs and can lead to a sudden sharp fall in blood pressure when taken in conjunction with them.
  • Warfarin - This is a medicine used for thinning of blood while Coenzyme Q10 increases clotting tendency. Thus, it reduces the efficacy of warfarin when taken along with it and increases the risk of blood clots.
  • Red yeast - This leads to lowering of endogenous Coenzyme Q10 levels.

Cold Water Fatty Fish Are A Good Dietary Source of Omega-3 Fats

Salmon is a rich source of EPA and DHA
Salmon is a rich source of EPA and DHA | Source

Eat Fish To Delay Deafness

Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and fatty fish is associated with reduced inflammation and a better blood supply.

Fatty fish are rich in Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that prevent oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, maintain elasticity of blood vessel walls, and all these benefits slow the degeneration of inner ear that gradually progresses with increasing age, thus reducing the risk of presbycusis.

Even eating fish just one or two times a week leads to a marked reduction in this risk. Eating broiled or baked fish is beneficial, while deep frying the fish not only cancels the health benefits but even increases the risk of heart diseases.

Fish that are rich sources of omega-3 fats include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. Each 3.5 ounces of fish can provide 1 gm of fish oil. Every 1 gm of fish oil contains 300 mg of omega-3 fats.

Since our body cannot synthesize these essential fatty acids, nor can it make omega-3 from omega-6 fatty acids so we have to depend on our diet for it. Even the fish do not produce omega-3 but accumulate them by consuming algae and plankton or other prey fish.

Fish oil supplements also contain small amounts of vitamin-E to prevent spoilage.

How Do Supplements Delay Hearing Loss Associated With Aging?

Fish Oil
Reduces arterial hardening
Anti inflammatory
Lowers Blood Pressure
Maintains elasticity of blood vessel walls
Slows degeneration of organ of corti
Improve blood supply to the inner ear

Omega-3 Fats are Loaded With Health Benefits

Fish oil supplements maintain blood vessel elasticity, improve blood supply to the ear and retard the hearing loss.
Fish oil supplements maintain blood vessel elasticity, improve blood supply to the ear and retard the hearing loss. | Source

Other Facts About Fish Oil

  • Fish oils are used to treat heart problems, reduce blood pressure, lower serum triglyceride levels, prevent stroke, reduce high BP in late pregnancy, after heart transplant surgery to prevent kidney damage, after a bypass surgery to prevent the formation of clots.
  • They are great "brain foods" that are believed to be beneficial for depression, psychosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease. dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Omega-3 fats also offer help in conditions like asthma, diabetes, kidney problems, obesity, and psoriasis.
  • They also reduce the bone resorption and increase bone density in osteoporosis in the elderly when used along with calcium rich diet and Evening Primrose oil.
  • Fish can also be contaminated with toxins like Mercury, dioxins, Poly Chloro Biphenyls (PCBs) but the health benefits outweigh the risk of side effects. Also, supplements have less risk of heavy metal poisoning as the are made from small fish that contain less mercury, that too binds to the protein while oil is free of it, and the process of distillation and processing of fish oil further removes any traces of contaminants.


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    • shraddhachawla profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thank you for your feedback BarbaraCasey.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Good information about CoQ10, which I take for statin use. Many thanks.


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