Taking precautions to protect your hearing is a critical component in making sure your hearing health stays in tip-top shape, but protection can come in many forms. Wearing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs and avoiding exposure to loud noises are obvious, but did you know that certain vitamins, acids, and minerals will not only keep your body healthy, but also keep you hearing for the longevity of your life? Research has linked Potassium, Omega-3, Magnesium, Folic Acid, and other vitamins to reduced age-related hearing loss, increased blood flow to the ears, and the protection of vital hearing cells. Making sure you incorporate foods that provide these supplements is not only important in achieving an all-around healthy diet, but also keeping you hearing better and longer.
Being one of the most important minerals in your diet, Potassium does more for your body than you might think. Regulating fluid balances, muscle contractions, and even conducting electricity, Potassium helps fight off strokes, osteoporosis, and reduces high blood pressure, leaving you asking what can’t this super-mineral do? Well, not only is Potassium good for your heart and muscles, but it’s critical for your hearing. Studies have linked low-potassium levels to poor hearing, as potassium plays a large part in cell interaction in the inner ear and in converting sounds into signals to the brain. To get a healthy level, eat potassium-rich foods such as bananas, potatoes, beans, and raisins, or drink milk, tomato juice, and orange juice.
Linked to increased blood flow, studies have shown a healthy diet containing Omega-3 can increase blood flow to the ears and vital hair cells that transmit sound to the brain, reducing the chance of age-related hearing loss. If protecting your hearing wasn’t enough, Omega-3 can also reduce your chance of heart disease! To get more of these fatty acids, manage a proportioned intake of fish like salmon or sardines and nuts such as walnuts.
Magnesium has been linked to the prevention of age-related hearing loss, tinnitus, and of sudden temporary or permanent hearing loss due to noise exposure thanks to its ability to protect against the effect of free radicals emitted from loud noises. Magnesium deficiency also constricts blood vessels, limiting the blood and oxygen sent to the inner ear, which we know can damage vital hair cells to translate sound. Magnesium-rich foods include peanut butter, cashews, and whole milk. If those aren’t exciting enough, dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium but should be consumed in moderation.
With studies linking folic acid deficiency to premature hearing loss, it’s clear this is another vitamin needed for healthy hearing. This is due to folic acids role in metabolizing homocysteine, a common amino acid associated with cardiovascular problems. These cardiovascular complications include the constriction of blood vessels, which similarly to magnesium deficiency, can reduce blood and oxygen to vital cells in the inner ear. Foods abundant in folic acid include citrus fruits, leafy greens, and legumes.
Not only good for fighting off pesky colds or the flu, vitamin c can also keep your hearing as healthy as your immune system. Thanks to the same antioxidants that keep you from taking sick days, damage is prevented to healthy hair cells in the cochlea. A healthy immune system also shields you from ear infections that could otherwise lead to damage. Foods that are rich in vitamin c include cauliflower, kiwi, peppers, and strawberries.
We hope you will consider adding these vitamins and minerals to your shopping cart next time you’re preparing for a meal. Your next dinner might just protect your hearing for years to come.