Your hearing is a critical means of perceiving the world around you, but like anything else, it is susceptible to wear and tear. Over time, your hearing can be negatively affected by aging and exposure to loud noise.
Hearing loss can fall into one of three categories: conductive (involving the outer ear or middle ear), sensorineural (involving the inner ear), or mixed (involving both the inner and middle or outer ear), per mayoclinic.org.
It is important to know that while most types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, they can be prevented, or improved. Considering that 1 in 3 people over age 65 experiences hearing loss, this is an issue that can potentially affect anyone. The hearing loss that occurs from the aging process is called “presbycusis.”
Preserving Ear Health Over Time
Preventing hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise is important. You should always take precautions to lessen the impact of loud noise when it’s nearby, whether you’re at a concert or mowing your lawn. If you can, avoid loud noises that are potentially damaging, or at least avoid prolonged exposure to them. This will help preserve your hearing. Wearing ear protection when loud noise is unavoidable is advised in those circumstances.
However, you can (and should) also take health measures to help ensure your long-term hearing and ear health. Fortunately, there are a number of vitamins and minerals that are known to potentially help preserve ear health over time, according to Dr. Hilary Steele of miracle-ear.com. Here is a look at some of them:
Minerals to Preserve Good Hearing
Potassium: Per healthyhearing.com, potassium plays a critical role in regulating various fluids in your blood and organs, including the fluid in your inner ears. Your inner ears are responsible for translating noises into electrical signals interpreted by your brain, and a lot of potassium is required to do this job properly. It is thought that lower levels of potassium in aging individuals could contribute to presbycusis, which is age-related hearing loss.
Zinc is known for its immune system benefits, but it is potentially helpful in warding off ear infections, according to healthyhearing.com. Some scientific studies propose that it might also be helpful in treating tinnitus, a common ear condition that causes ringing in the ears.
Magnesium: Per healthyhearing.com, magnesium has the potential to stifle the damage done to your ears during loud noises, when it is consumed in combination with vitamins A, C, and E. The science underlying this result suggests that magnesium can help combat the effects of free-radical production, which takes place in the inner ear when subjected to loud noises.
Vitamins to Help Supplement Ear Health
Folic acid, a synthetic form of the vitamin folate, is thought to help slow the rate of hearing loss, per miracle-ear.com. This is for two reasons: folate helps fight off free radicals in the ear, and it also helps your body metabolize homocysteine – an amino acid that can impair blood flow if it builds up.
Vitamin A: According to accuquest.com, scientific evidence suggests that vitamin A might reduce the risk of moderate to severe hearing loss in individuals over the age of 50. Vitamin A plays a helpful role in many bodily functions, so it’s no surprise that it might help preserve your hearing, too.
Vitamin D: Per miracle-ear.com, vitamin D can be helpful to your bone health, and despite what you might think, this is very much relevant to your ears. There are three tiny, yet critical, bones in your middle ear that can weaken over time and affect hearing. Vitamin D can help prevent this.
Other Substances to Ensure Hearing Longevity
Carotenoids: These are plant pigments that produce orange, yellow, and red foods, and two of those pigments (carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) have been evidenced to possibly lower the risk of hearing loss, per healthyhearing.com. Carotenoids also act as an antioxidant, and are found in carrots, peppers, and other vegetables.
Resveratrol: This is an antioxidant found in red wine and other sources (it is recommended to take as a supplement, as the alcohol might cancel out its benefits, per accuquest.com. Scientific evidence suggests that it may reduce COX-2 expression, an amino acid that contributes to hearing loss. It can help fight off free radicals, and may reduce inflammation that occurs as a result of loud noise.