Hearing loss affects 15% of the US population. That’s about 48 million people and while it’s commonly thought of as an issue that affects the elderly, only 35 % of those with hearing loss are over 65 years old. There are many things you can do to protect your hearing, such as wearing ear protection, quitting smoking, or even wearing a helmet to prevent head injuries. However, did you know that what you eat can also make a big difference when it comes to hearing health?
Minerals are natural elements found in soil. They are absorbed by vegetables we eat and then absorbed into our bodies to support our health. Likewise, when we eat a creature that has consumed these vegetables, we also absorb minerals that support the health of our organs and body to function properly. Your body uses minerals for many different applications, including maintaining the health of your bones, heart, and brain, as well as producing hormones and enzymes. Many minerals also support hearing health. Here are just a few important minerals found in the food we eat which can help you hear clearly for years to come.
Folate, also referred to as vitamin B-9, performs several essential functions, most importantly supporting red blood cell formation and cell growth and function. This creates a constant supply of oxygenated blood to the entire body and the ears. Most hearing loss is sensorineural, meaning it is caused by damage to tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia. While the ears collect sound, it is the job of the stereocilia to send this signal to the brain where it is processed. If the body doesn’t receive enough folate, then it can slowly cause damage to the stereocilia, which in turn can decrease the audio information delivered to the brain. Studies have revealed that often people with hearing loss have lower levels of folate in their blood. The good news is, by prioritizing certain foods such as broccoli, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, nuts, beans, and eggs can raise your folate levels, which can help to protect your stereocilia and hearing in the process.
Vitamin B-12 helps your body produce red blood cells, plays a role in nerve function, and even aids in the production of DNA. Similar to a low level of folate in the body, a lack of vitamin B12 can restrict healthy blood flow to your ears, damaging the stereocilia. A low level of vitamin B12 may also contribute to tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The good news is by adding lean animal protein such as poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy you can ensure you have enough blood to keep hearing clear. Vegetarian sources of B12 include adding nutritional yeast to food, tempeh, and nori seaweed.
Vitamins A & E
Vitamins A and E boost the immune system preventing infections and bacteria which could harm the inner ear. A 2011 study found that increased intake of vitamin A was linked to a 47% reduced risk of hearing loss, and vitamin E was linked to a 14% decreased risk of hearing loss. To get enough Vitamin A to eat beef liver, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and eggs. To Increase your Vitamin E, eat lots of delicious squash, avocado, and almonds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. This can boost brain health, heart health, and more. Of course, it also protects your hearing. A 2010 study found that people who have a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids were 42% less likely to suffer from age-related hearing loss. If you are looking to up your dose of Omega 3 fatty acids try eating more fish but you can also find it in seeds and walnuts.
Magnesium when taken with vitamin C has been found to combat free radicals and protect your inner ear from the effects of loud noise. For added support, along with hearing protection try eating more broccoli, spinach, beans, whole grains, and dairy.
Boosting Your Hearing Health
Hearing loss is often permanent but it’s also very treatable. Along with a healthy diet we recommend exploring your options to enhance your hearing with hearing aids. To find out if hearing aids are right for you, contact us and we can test your hearing. Schedule an appointment with us today.