You try to eat healthy foods to give your body and immune system the fuel it needs to keep you in shape. You notice when you can’t climb stairs as fast as you used to or when bending down to pick something up gets more difficult as the day wears on. You get regular physical exams; you get your eyes checked and get glasses or contacts – or cataract surgery if needed. Hopefully, you aren’t one of the majority of Americans who doesn’t take care of your hearing or ignores the fact that you have to keep saying “what” or “excuse me” over and over again.
At Focus Hearing, we are committed to keeping you on the path to good hearing health. This means you ought to get regular hearing evaluations. And as long as you are eating healthy – here’s some tips on what will help keep your hearing healthy, too.
Let’s Think About Folate Levels
Since the early 1990s, folate, which is also known as vitamin B-9, has been linked to hearing health. A 1999 study reviewed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed elderly women with hearing loss had 43% lower folate levels than women with normal hearing. A 2003 study showed folate levels were lower in patients with age-related hearing loss than in those with no hearing loss. A 2004 study looked at men with age-related hearing loss and found those with hearing issues also had very low levels of serum folate. Foods with naturally occurring B-9 include spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver and nuts.
Low B-9 levels have been linked by research and many of those same studies found low B-12 levels also seemed to contribute to hearing loss.
Research conclusions were that both folate and B-12 deficiencies cause homocysteine levels in the body to rise and high homocysteine levels restrict blood flow. A lower blood flow to the cochlea in the ear causes hearing loss. The cochlea converts sound vibrations into electrical signals which are processed by the brain.
B-12 is naturally present in meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products. Foods that provide B-12 also provide Vitamin D which is good for hearing health. Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D, but mackerel, tuna, egg yolks and cheese – especially swiss cheese – are all high in Vitamin D.
Omega-3 is very important for healthy hearing as well as general health. Studies indicate many Americans aren’t getting enough of this essential component in their daily diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2010 about Omega-3. It showed study participants who had at least two servings each week of cold-water fish which are traditionally high in Omega-3s, had a 42% lower risk of having age-related hearing loss. In addition to cold-water fish, other foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include pastured eggs, flaxseed, walnuts and grass-fed beef and lamb. Salmon and sardines are very high in Omega-3s.
Vitamins A and E
A 2011 study reviewed the link between dietary and supplemental intakes of antioxidants such as vitamins A and E, and a propensity for hearing loss. Researchers measured the benefits of antioxidants over five years and found vitamins A and E scored the highest as being beneficial for hearing health. Individuals with the highest intake of Vitamin A reduced their risk of hearing loss by 47% and those who ate foods containing vitamin E lowered their risk of hearing loss by 14%. Food high in vitamin E include almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, sunflower seeds, butternut squash, Swiss chard, turnip greens and olive oil. Foods rich in vitamin A would be beef liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, broccoli, eggs and butter from grass-fed beef.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant
that works with glutathione and other cellular antioxidants to absorb
antioxidants that destroy helpful free radicals. A higher intake of vitamin C
helps protect the brainstem from damage due to excessive noise. Vitamin C can
improve the symptoms of sudden sensorineural hearing loss by reducing oxygen
metabolites that are produced in the inner ear.
You can take supplements to increase your vitamin C, and it also occurs naturally in citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and dark, leafy greens.
Get That Hearing Test!
Stay on a good hearing health regime with a helpful diet, but also remember to get a regular hearing evaluation at Focus Hearing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.