Nutrition – specifically vitamins A, E, folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids – may play a role in significantly reducing the risk of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States, affecting more than 17%, or 36 million people. That number is on the rise, and affecting people at a younger age, thanks in part to increased use of headphones and exposure to loud noise.
While you can protect your ears from damage by limiting that exposure (by wearing earplugs, reducing music volume, avoiding excessive use of headphones/earbuds), age is also a large factor in hearing loss – the percentage of people experiencing hearing loss increases with each group.
But numerous studies have shown that nutrition may play an important protective role against hearing loss. Here are the exciting research results:
A recent study (1) found that increased intakes of antioxidant vitamins A and E may significantly reduce the risk of hearing loss. People with the highest average intakes of vitamin A had a 47 percent reduced risk of moderate or greater hearing loss, compared to people with the lowest average intakes. In addition, increasing dietary vitamin E intakes were linked with a 14 percent reduction in hearing loss.
Researchers believe that antioxidants such as vitamins A and E may counter oxidative damage to the inner portion of the ear associated with hearing.
Another study (2) found that increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, and the fish that provide them, may reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss. At least two servings of fish per week was associated with a 42 per cent reduction in the risk of hearing loss in people over 50, compared with those who average less than one serving per week. Similar reductions were seen with omega-3 fatty acids, with increasing intakes associated with 14 per cent reductions in the risk of age-related hearing loss.
The lead researcher reported, "Dietary intervention with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids could prevent or delay the development of age-related hearing loss."
Previous studies have also indicated that folate, or folic acid, may offer protection against hearing loss as well. One (3) reported that increased intakes of folate and folic acid may reduce the risk of hearing loss in men by 20 per cent, while another (4) found that low blood levels of folate are associated with a 35 per cent increased risk of hearing loss. A previous 2007 study (5) reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related hearing loss in the low frequency region in men and women between the ages of 50 and 70.
If you want to do all you can to preserve your hearing, protect your ears from noise damage and consider taking a nutritional supplement such as Basic Nutrient Support® that contains a full spectrum of antioxidants, B vitamins (including folic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids.
(1) The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging doi: 10.1007/s12603-011-0119-0
“Dietary antioxidant intake is associated with the prevalence but not incidence of age-related hearing loss”
B. Gopinath, V. M. Flood, et al
(2) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29370
“Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and fish and risk of age-related hearing loss”
B. Gopinath, V.M. Flood, E. Rochtchina, C.M. McMahon, P. Mitchell
(3) American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting
“Vitamin Intake and Risk of Hearing Loss in Men”
J. Shargorodsky, G. Curhan, S. Curhan, R. Eavey