One of the best things you can do to maintain your health as you age is protect your hearing. We’re used to hearing tips like avoiding exposure to loud noises for long periods of time, taking hearing tests, and preventing ear infections, but it isn’t always common sense that certain minerals and foods we eat can actually have long-term effects on our hearing. Let’s take a look at five vitamins and minerals that help prevent hearing loss:
1. Folic acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin complex that helps us make healthy new red blood cells. A lack of folic acid can affect our homocystine levels and slow down blood flow. Good circulation is vital in keeping the hair cells in the inner ear healthy and functioning properly. Studies have shown that adults over the age of 50 with low levels of folic acid are 34% more likely to develop prebycusis, which gradual hearing loss that occurs as you get older (Columbia Hearing Center
). Folic acid can be found in rich greens such as spinach, bell peppers, avocados, and cabbage; enriched breads; fresh-squeezed juices, and seeds.
Magnesium is commonly found in broccoli, bananas, potatoes, brown rice, almonds, and artichokes. A study conducted at the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute
has shown that people pretreated with magnesium (in addition to Vitamins A, C, and E) were better shielded against hearing loss. Scientists believe that magnesium will counteract the effects of free radicals released during exposure to loud noises. It is also good to ease hearing sensitivities and reduce tinnitus.
Boost your inner ear’s resistance to age and ailments by getting enough zinc in your diet. Zinc is known for universally building immunity and healing wounds, so not only does it ward off germs that get you sick, but it keeps ear infections at bay. Foods that are rich in zinc include dark chocolate, oysters, beef, cashews, beans, and lentils.
B12 naturally attaches to proteins and is released through digestive processes in our stomachs. A study published by the American Journal of Otolaryngology
found that half the patients examined with hearing loss or tinnitus were deficient in Vitamin B12. B12 is copious in lean meats and dairy such as eggs, fish, and clams. It is important to make sure to consume lean meats as often as possible as a high level of cholesterol and actually contribute to hearing loss. Vegans and vegetarians have a harder time getting an adequate amount of B12 since it is primarily found in animal products, so they may want to consider taking B12 supplements or considering alternative foods with B12 such as edible seaweed and blue-green algae used to make sushi.
Potassium regulates the amount of fluid in your blood and body tissue. The fluid in your inner ear is dependent upon a rich supply of potassium because it translates the noises that we ear into electrical impulses the brain interprets as sound. Those levels naturally drop as we age. Foods rich in potassium may even help prevent noise-related hearing loss. Foods containing high levels of potassium include bananas, apricots, spinach, lima beans, raisins, and low-fat milk.