We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat,” but diet can affect more than how you feel – it can also impact your likelihood of developing hearing loss.
From potassium and magnesium to vitamin D and Zinc, when we eat products containing key vitamins and minerals, our bodies reap the benefits of these nourishing nutrients. In fact, some have even been shown to help or improve common hearing conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, ear infections and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). But what exactly do each of these vitamins and minerals do for our bodies and how can you make sure you’re getting enough?
Key Vitamins and Minerals for your hearing (and overall) health:
Potassium: As we get older, our potassium levels drop, and potassium impacts the inner ear functions and converts sounds into signals for the brain to interpret.2 Potassium also helps your body regulate the fluid in our blood and tissues.2 Some foods to consider would be bananas, potatoes, spinach,
citrus fruits, fish, beans, tomatoes, nuts and others.1
- Magnesium: Researchers have found magnesium may play an important role in protecting our ears from the damaging effects of noise.2 Magnesium helps prevent cell damage that can lead to hearing loss, and it has been shown to relieve the severity of tinnitus symptoms.2 A healthy supply of magnesium also keeps the blood vessels relaxed, allowing adequate blood to flow throughout the body, including through the vessels in the inner ear.2 Foods to eat might be nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
- Zinc: Zinc is known for its immune-boosting powers and ability to help fight off colds.2 It helps activate and produce T-cells—our bodies’ defender cells that are specifically designed to recognize and destroy bacteria, viruses and other invaders.2 Zinccan help improve the impact of tinnitus and age-related hearing loss.2 Foods to increase in your diet might be whole grain, spinach, carrots, chicken, shrimp, cheese, brown rice, red meat, grass-fed dairy among others.1
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone health.3 Not getting enough of this vitamin can wreak havoc on bones throughout our body—including the trio of tiny, yet crucial bones in our middle ear. Without vitamin D, these three ear bones can soften and weaken, which can impact hearing. Vitamin D is important for people of every age, but it’s especially important for older adults, who often have less vitamin D in their system.3 Try increasing your veggie intake with leafy greens, avocados, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots. Red meat, fish, nuts, olive oil and some fruit such as peaches, papaya and other melons can also help.
- Folates: Folates are a member of the vitamin B family. They help fight off free radicals—those pesky little molecules that have gained a reputation for causing a whole host of issues in the body over time.3 Free radical activity can reduce blood flow to the inner ear, as well as damage our ear’s delicate sensory cells needed for healthy hearing. And once those cells are destroyed, they cannot grow back.1 Foods that are high in folic acid include legumes, asparagus, eggs, leafy greens, beets, citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, broccoli, nuts, papaya, bananas, and avocado.4
If you are concerned you may already have some hearing loss, you can take our Quick online hearing quiz to see if you need further testing. Also make sure to visit your local farmers market to get the freshest, healthy foods to incorporate into your diet.