You’re probably aware that certain nutrients can support optimal vision, but did you know your hearing may benefit from certain foods as well? If you have trouble hearing, or notice that your hearing is not as good as it used to be, your diet (and/or additional supplementation) may hold the answer.
In fact, nutritional imbalances are increasingly thought to be a causative factor in hearing loss.1 Age-related hearing loss is actually not due to any kind of mechanical dysfunction in your ear. Rather it’s how your brain processes information that results in reduced hearing.
Furthermore, it’s your brain’s ability to provide proper feedback to your ear, by filtering out unwanted information, that declines when you reach your 40s and 50s. Without this filtering system, you’re more likely to be overcome by a mass of information that is difficult to sort out.
The good news is age-related hearing loss may be reversible. Tinnitus, which is typically caused by noise-induced damage, may also be greatly improved, as can sudden loss of hearing.
Nutrients That Protect and Improve Hearing
Omega 3 Fats
Found in high amounts in fish like salmon, tuna and trout, omega 3 fats are known for fighting inflammation and preventing heart disease. But they’re known to fight hearing loss too. One study found that the risk of age-related hearing loss decreased in over 40 percent of people who ate 2 servings of fatty fish per week. Researchers think that omega 3 fats strengthen the blood vessels in your ear’s sensory system.
Research by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation found that 20 percent of men over the age of 60 with a high intake of folic acid lowered their risk of developing hearing loss. Folic Acid is a vitamin B and it’s thought to prevent hearing loss by either lowering homocysteine, a possible cause of certain types of hearing loss or increasing the blood flow to key structures in the ear. Homocysteine, a common amino acid, is usually acquired from eating meat. However, high amounts have been linked to heart and blood vessel disease. It’s recommended to have 800 micrograms of folic acid per day from a multivitamin in combination with the foods you eat. Some foods you can eat to increase your folic acid intake include: spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver or nuts.
It’s recommended to have 300 to 400 micrograms of magnesium in your diet per day and it can be achieved with a supplement or eating things like bananas, broccoli, potatoes, artichokes, brown rice, peanut butter, almonds and halibut. In a study that followed 300 young, healthy people that drank a magnesium supplement every day for two months, it was discovered that their hearing remained intact, despite working in high levels of noise.
Zinc is known to increase the inner ear’s resistance to hearing loss. In one research study, it was found that the group taking a zinc treatment for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) had an increased rate of successful recovery. According to the researchers of the study “Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce the oxidative stress of the cochlea in SSNHL, implying a new direction in the treatment of this disease.” You’ll be happy to know that you can get zinc in many things like seafood, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, nuts, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, and even in dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content.
Vitamin C & E
These well-known antioxidants are good at keeping free radicals at bay and giving your immune system the boost it needs to fight off sickness including ear infections, which can sometimes be the cause of hearing loss. Foods rich in vitamin C and E include peppers, citrus fruits like oranges, guava, green leafy vegetables like kale, nuts, broccoli, tomatoes, and peas.