Most of us consider hearing loss to be an inevitable part of aging. And sure, in some cases, it is. But if I told you that your hearing could be preserved or even repaired through nutrition, would you pay attention? I hope so, because this is surprisingly easy. Generally speaking, a nutrient-rich, healthy diet, particularly high in vitamins A, E, D, B12, and Zinc, can reverse some types of hearing loss and prevent others. But instead of just leaving you with a list of vitamins that you may only recognize as being packaged in bottles at GNC, we’re going to discuss some actual mealtime suggestions…
Vitamin A: In some studies, vitamin A has been shown to reduce noise-induced hearing loss and relieve tinnitus. Vitamin A also supports mucous membrane and your body’s immune system, both of which are important to hearing health. Since over-consumption of vitamin A can be damaging to your health, and because it is so easily found in a variety of foods, most nutritionists recommend getting your vitamin A from natural sources, as opposed to supplements. Some foods high in Vitamin A include liver, red pepper and cayenne, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens and colorful lettuce, apricots, dried herbs, and cantaloupe. Are you hungry yet?
Vitamin E: According to a study reported in Medical News Today, vitamin E has been shown to reduce sudden onset hearing loss of unknown origins, and scientists think it’s because of vitamin E’s antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can reduce ear pressure from traumatic events or toxicities, and prevent cochlear damage. To supplement nutritionally, add sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, cooked green spinach, and dried apricots to your diet.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to hearing loss and even deafness due to demineralization of the tiny bones in the ear. Interestingly, this type of hearing loss can sometimes be reversed. So, you can both prevent and treat hearing loss with a diet rich in vitamin D. Fish, particularly raw fish (sushi), is an excellent source of vitamin D. It’s also found in cod liver oil, fortified cereals, oysters, caviar, fortified dairy products, mushrooms and eggs.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often associated with chronic tinnitus, age-related hearing loss, and even auditory hallucinations. While hearing loss caused by vitamin B12 deficiency cannot be reversed, it can be diagnosed early with medical intervention and further damage can be prevented by properly supplementing vitamin B12. To be sure you don’t develop a vitamin B12 deficiency, eat a variety of proteins. Vitamin B12 is found in oysters, muscles, claims, eggs, liver, caviar, mackerel and most other fish, octopus, beef, lamp, cheese, as well as lobster and crab. Low levels of folate, another B vitamin, are also shown to correlate to age-related hearing loss. Folate can be found in leafy greens, chick pees, asparagus, bean sprouts, sunflower seeds, liver, and lentils, and is found fortified in many grain products.
Zinc, known to speed up the body’s immune response to damage and illness, has been effective in reversing some types of sudden, unexplained hearing loss. Zinc also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can help reduce stress on the cochlea when sudden hearing loss occurs. If your hearing loss was sudden and unexplained, or suspected to be the result of a virus, ask your hearing professional or physician about the use of zinc supplements in your treatment plan. Zinc is found naturally in a variety of foods including roast beef, lamb, dark chocolate, crab, veal liver, roasted pumpkin seeds, and toasted wheat germ.
For more information about eating a nutrient-rich diet that can aid in your hearing health, talk to your hearing professional, or see a nutritionist to introduce you to some of these foods (if they are new to you) and help you with meal planning.