We all know that good nutrition plays a role in the overall health of the body, but did you know that nutrition can also specifically affect your hearing? Malnutrition from fetal development through preschool years has been known to affect auditory development in later life. This recent study highlights that in addition to the more traditional ways to protect hearing, including reducing noise exposure, and avoiding medications which are toxic to the ear, focus on nutrition provides an entirely new area for preventable hearing loss.

Read on for ways that a few dietary changes can keep your ears healthy and happy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are known to be beneficial to your health, particularly in helping to fight heart disease. More recently, these fatty acids have been shown to play a role in preventing hearing loss as well.

According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the consumption of fish 2-4 times per week may lead to a lower risk of hearing loss. This is especially true in women. To learn more, check out the National Institutes of Health Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fact Sheet.

Omega-3s are found in plant oils including flaxseed, soybeans and canola oil, seeds including chia and walnuts, and fish. Sushi anyone?

Antioxidant Vitamins

Been losing certain frequencies lately? Regular vitamin supplements have been known to lower the risk of age-related hearing loss and reduce damage to ears in high-noise situations.

It turns out that mitochondria in our cells respond to loud noise by releasing free radicals that can cause cell damage. In the ears, that spells bad news for hearing, causing us to lose certain frequencies. Antioxidant vitamins have been found to counteract these free radicals and reduce damaging effects.

So which vitamins are best? There are many options for healthful vitamins in your daily meals, including citrus, dark leafy greens, and other kinds of colorful fruits and vegetables. Try these:

  • Vitamin A – (also known as beta carotenes) found in orange fruits & vegetables such as carrots, nectarines and sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits and berries, papayas and kiwi, tomatoes, peas, and dark leafy greens like kale, chard and broccoli
  • Vitamin E – found in dark leafy greens, as well as nuts like almonds and hazelnuts
  • Vitamin D – found in wild mushrooms and dairy products, in addition to mackerel, salmon and sardines
  • Magnesium – found in beans, nuts, leafy greens and whole grains

How well does it work?

The use of antioxidant vitamins has been known to reduce damage to the hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear), reduce tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and build a strong immune system to help fight off infection. It even prevents hearing loss: taking supplements or consuming foods with these vitamins an hour before noise exposure reduces blood constriction in the ears due to higher noise levels.

As you can see, hearing loss is preventable – and it is never too late to take care of your hearing and your ears through a focus on nutrition and hearing health. Check in with your nutritionist and/or general practitioner for more tips. Better yet, schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation today, and find out more ways you can help boost your hearing health!