March 16, 2017

Eating Well for Hearing Health


You’ve probably heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” While that may not be entirely true, the foods you consume can have a positive effect on your hearing. Studies indicate foods rich in certain nutrients can help boost your hearing. In some cases, they may even help prevent or delay hearing loss.

Omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties that help strengthen the blood vessels in the inner ear, helping protect against hearing loss. Research
shows that individuals who eat two or more servings of fish a week are 42 percent less likely to develop presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) compared with those who do not eat fish regularly.[1] Omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Sardines

Folic acid helps reduce the number of damage-causing free radicals in your body, and ultimately helps prevent hearing loss. Those who have a folate deficiency and are over the age of 50 have a 35 percent higher risk of developing hearing loss.[2] The sources of folic acid include:

  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Nuts

Vitamin B12 works much like folic acid, creating new red blood cells and improving the flow of blood to your ears.[3] Foods high in B12 include:

  • Lean Meats
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Clams
  • Liver
  • Fish

Vitamin C helps boost the immune system[4] and is plentiful in:

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Bell peppers

Vitamin E helps improve circulation[4] and can be found in:

  • Almonds
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sunflower Oil

Vitamin D keeps the bones and tissue in the inner ear healthy, preventing bone loss and otosclerosis.[5] Good sources of this vitamin are found in:

  • Fish
  • Milk

Zinc is another nutrient that can help protect against age-related hearing loss.[6] It can be found in:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Oysters

Magnesium may prevent noise-induced hearing loss.[4] Look for magnesium in:

  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli

While there’s no guarantee that consuming these foods will keep you from developing hearing loss, including them as part of your diet will help improve your overall health regardless.

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[1] “Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and fish and risk of –age-related hearing loss.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
[2] “Folic acid deficiency induces premature hearing loss through mechanisms involving cochlear oxidative stress and impairment of homocysteine metabolism.” Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2015.
[3] “Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B12, and folate in elderly women.” American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 1999.
[4]“Free radical scavengers, vitamin A, C, and E, plus magnesium reduced noise trauma.” Free Radical Biology & Medicine, 2007.
[5] “Vitamin D deficiency and deafness: 1984 update.” American Journal of Otolaryngology, 1985.
[6] “Zinc: the neglected nutrient.” American Journal of Otolaryngology, 1989.