A major study performed in Southern Nepal, where hearing loss at an early age is common, looked at a group of over 2000 youth ages 16-23. Those with hearing loss overwhelmingly came from undernourished households where food variety was scarce when they were young.
Without eating a variety of foods, they couldn’t get the broad spectrum of nutrition they needed.
You can’t go back in time to eat your vegetables after learning of this link. But chances are you’re not in a position where you can’t access healthy foods. You can start today reducing your risk and keeping your hearing.
Here are the top nutrients that support your own hearing health and where to find them.
Based on Science
A group of scientists studied how certain diets impact a person’s ability to retain their hearing as they age. They took into account environmental and behavioral differences that may skew the outcome.
The study lasted 22 years with over 70 thousand participants, making this one of the largest studies in history and very significant.
This recently completed study found that people who consumed the following were at lesser risk of hearing loss.
Potassium is a salt. It’s an electrolyte. Your body needs it to help regulate fluid. The liver uses it to facilitate the disposal of toxins in the system.
Potassium is found in:
When possible eat fruits raw and whole, minus the inedible parts. Dried fruit and juice will still have the potassium. But they’re also very high in sugar, something you don’t want a lot of.
The study found that those getting ample potassium reduced risk of noise-induced hearing loss. That’s the kind we associate with aging.
Folate is a B Vitamin. Your body uses folate to support your DNA, the code that tells your body what kinds of cells to create. Without folate, cells can’t divide to make new healthy cells.
You’ll find folate in:
- Black-eyed peas
- Brussel sprouts
- Romaine Lettuce
Folate is also added to some morning cereals. But getting it from whole foods like the above is a better route.
The study found that folate slowed the progression of hearing loss. So if you’re already experiencing symptoms, increasing folate in your diet can help keep your hearing longer.
The study found that B12 deficiency was closely linked to hearing loss. B12 is important for energy production as well as healthy nerve and blood cells.
The best sources of B12 are fermented food like:
- Kim chi
- Anything pickled (not the kind soaked in vinegar)
You can also get B12 from eating seaweed, which is common in some cultures. And if you’re not opposed to eating meat, you can get it from red meat.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants. Vitamin C promotes healing. It helps protect the body from harm. Vitamin E fights free radicals that harm cells. Both are incredibly important for maintaining healthy blood flow and nerve health in your inner ear.
Some common sources for both include:
- Bell Peppers
Vitamin D is essential for overall health. Most people aren’t getting enough of it.
Researchers believe that Vitamin D helps strengthen the tiny bones in the inner ear improving function.
The best place to get Vitamin D is from the sun. Your body makes Vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunlight. But don’t overdo it. Too much sun damages the skin, leading to premature aging and even cancer.
It’s harder to get enough Vitamin D through food sources. But some of those include:
- Mushrooms that grow in the sunlight (not the white ones)
- Lichen, which is a green lacy looking plant that grows on dead trees
If none of these is a viable option, then you may need to take supplements.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
This nutrient protects hearing from free-radical damage. It supports a healthy nervous system. Hearing is a nervous system function.
ALA also boosts the mitochondria in the tiny hair cells in your ear that pick up sounds. A mitochondrian is found in each cell. It produces energy the cells need to function.
You can get AlphaLipoic Acid from:
- Sweet Potatoes
Eat This. Not That. Keep Your Hearing
Nutrition plays a strong role in hearing health. Unlike other parts of your body, the inner ears’ tiny hair cells can’t grow back if damaged or killed. Even short-term deficiencies can cause permanent hearing loss as we saw in the Nepal study.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss symptoms, get your hearing tested. Don’t wait. A hearing specialist can provide you with solutions for improving your hearing.