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Your hearing health is important. Not only do we use our hearing every day to understand the world around us, communicate with friends and family and to avoid danger and obstacles, healthy hearing is linked to other important aspects of our overall health and wellness. For example, the risk of developing serious health issues such as dementia and depression rises significantly when hearing issues go unaddressed.
How do you support your hearing health? While protecting your ears from excessively loud noise is the number one way you can prevent hearing loss, there are other things to consider as well. Many people are surprised to learn that their diet can help promote hearing health. Many recent studies into hearing loss have cited a notable lack of certain vitamins and minerals in subjects with hearing loss. Here are a few vitamins and minerals that play a special role in nourishing your auditory system:
Zinc plays an important restorative role in the body, boosting your immune system and helping in cellular growth. Getting the right amount of zinc in your diet can help your body and hearing be resilient as well. Zinc helps your body suppress infections that can damage the delicate cells in your auditory system. Some individuals also report that increasing their zinc intake is effective in treating tinnitus.
You can find zinc naturally in a wide range of foods. It is present in cashews, peanuts, almonds and dark chocolate as well as beef, pork, oyster and beans. Zinc can also be taken as a supplement but may have interactions with other medications, so it is important to check with your primary care provider before introducing a zinc supplement to your routine.
Vitamins B12 and B9
The B vitamins are a family of 8 similar nutrients that are nonetheless chemically distinct from one another and specialize in boosting specific bodily tasks. When thinking about your hearing health, you’ll want to pay special attention to vitamins B9, also known as folate, and B12. In studies of hearing loss, these two nutrients were markedly deficient in subjects with hearing loss. It is thought that both folate and B12 help deliver blood to the tiny structures of the inner ear. A deficiency may “starve” these areas of blood and contribute to hearing damage.
Folate and B12 are easy to find in both whole foods and vitamin supplements. For folate turn to veggies like spinach, asparagus and broccoli as well as other sources like eggs, beans, liver and many tree nuts. B12 is present in a wide range of animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy. Vegan and vegetarian diets may be best balanced with a vitamin supplement of B12.
Vitamins A and E
Studies have also looked at other vitamins to unlock the connections between nutrition and hearing health. Research from 2011 found that adult subjects with the highest intake of vitamin A were 47% less likely to have hearing loss. Vitamin E was also a promising indicator of risk, with the highest vitamin E levels showing a 14% reduced likelihood of hearing loss. Vitamins A and E both play a key role in blocking free radicals in the body. Free radicals hold the potential to cause harm in the ear – they can be released when our body responds to loud noises and can also cause damage to vulnerable cells in the inner ear.
Vitamin A can be found in foods such as carrots, kale, eggs, butter, broccoli and beef liver. Vitamin E is available in olive oil, avocado, squash and sunflower seeds. You can get healthy amounts of both vitamin A and E in foods like spinach or sweet potato. These nutrients can also be supplemented to the body.
Alongside vitamins A and E, magnesium also helps sweep free radicals from the body and in research, healthy magnesium levels have been shown to lower risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Magnesium provides reinforcement for the delicate cells in the inner ear and also encourages healthy activity in the small blood vessels of the ear making sure nutrients reach the auditory cells.
Magnesium is largely found in fruits and vegetables. Bananas, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes are all good sources of magnesium. To supplement magnesium in your diet, look for a multivitamin that bundles magnesium with other free radical fighting nutrients like vitamins A, E and C.
Addressing Hearing Loss
Hearing tests are an important part of your overall health and well-being. For adults over 50, specialists recommend an annual hearing test. To schedule an appointment, contact us today!