Every day people across this nation take vitamins and nutritional supplements in an effort to meet their daily recommended amounts. In fact, as many as 86 percent, or four out of five people are shown to include additional vitamins and supplements in their diet according to the American Osteopathic Association.
For those who have vitamin deficiencies, this is a great opportunity to fill in the gaps. There is a multitude of non-prescription solutions to various health concerns. These include products such as vitamin A to help maintain good vision, vitamin C to help our immune system, and vitamin D to ensure good bone growth.
People who have hearing loss often ask the question, can vitamins protect your hearing? Whether it’s due to the aging process, noise exposure, or even certain medications, many are looking for help to maintain what hearing they have left, if not restore what they’ve lost. For people who don’t yet suffer from a loss of hearing, the question is, do vitamins help to protect against hearing loss?
Tinnitus sufferers or those who have ringing in the ears are among those hoping to find a non-prescription solution to ease the irritation brought on by the condition. The often-constant ringing, buzzing, or any number of other sounds can cause problems with concentration, sleeping, and conversations in person or on the phone. They can affect relationships and job responsibilities and are generally seen as an annoyance, if not something that causes physical pain.
According to Dr. Sharon Curhan, MD, the information gained from studies is often contradictory. There are some studies out there that point to a positive response in hearing health, yet others caution about the mixed results of the research.
“For example, in animal models, combinations of certain nutrients were protective against hearing loss; however, studies in humans have produced conflicting results,” said Curhan, who is a physician as well as an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School of Boston. She is responsible for research about variable risk factors for both loss of hearing and tinnitus.
The best way to ensure you are taking in enough of the right vitamins and nutrients is to follow a healthy diet. The better the variety of foods you eat, the better your chances of protecting your hearing. There is truth in the suggestion to fill your plate with foods of all colors of the rainbow.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is a nutrient that’s responsible for healthy bones, blood vessels, and skin repair. Many also know it as a component that helps keep our immune system healthy. As the human body lacks the terminal enzyme that is needed to manufacture its own vitamin C, we have to obtain it from dietary components.
Vitamin C can be found naturally in foods such as:
- Red and green peppers
Thanks to carotenoids, fruits and vegetables are able to maintain their gorgeous orange color. Not only that but they contribute to good health by offering antioxidant protection, communication from cell to cell, and good vision as well as both a healthy immune and reproductive system.
They can be found in:
- Red peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Also known as vitamin B9, folate is a vital nutrient which the division of cells depends on. It’s also needed for cell growth, the regulation of metabolism, and producing DNA as well as other genetic materials.
According to Dr. Curhan and her team, a diet higher in folate was related to reduced chances of hearing loss. “This finding for folate is consistent with a randomized clinical trial in the Netherlands that showed oral folic acid supplementation was inversely associated with hearing decline over 3 years,” said Curhan.
The results of this study were found to have limitations though. Across the world, not all areas are offering food that is fortified with folic acid. Within the U.S., much of our food sources are already fortified so therefore taking a supplement might not have the same impact as the results showed in the Netherlands clinical trial.
Folate can be found in:
- Beef Liver
- Egg yolk
- Sunflower seeds
Vitamin A shows promise as a way to fight off hearing loss with its ability to protect the inner ear areas from damage caused by free radicals. These are toxic by-products created from exposure to environmental pollution. When lower levels of vitamin A are combined with a diminished blood flow to the cochlea, free radicals can form. This can lead to stress-related hearing loss, as well as loss from overexposure to noise and ototoxic drugs.
Vitamin A is available in:
- Broccoli leaves
- Red peppers
- Sweet potatoes
These little beauties work to strengthen the immune system, which can help prevent ear infections. They also work to protect against free radicals that occur thanks to pollutants like cigarette smoke and the diminishing ozone layer, which can cause damage to portions of the body’s cells and lead to multiple medical issues.
Of all the foods high in vitamins, vitamin E likely offers some of the easiest to prepare. Simple foods such as nuts are the first go-to for sources of this valuble nutrient. Easy to prepare and often easy to find, along with various nut oils like sunflower and grapeseed oils, they offer simple sources of a much-needed addition to our diet.
Vitamin E comes from:
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
By following these few dietary suggestions, you could help keep your hearing components healthy in the years to come. For those who are now dealing with hearing loss, taking in these vitamins through natural sources could prevent further decreases in your ability to hear.
While more research needs to be done on the link between these essential vitamins and our audiological needs, wouldn’t knowing you stand a better chance of retaining your hearing be enough to convince you to incorporate them into your diet? Not only this, but they can help protect your body’s health overall. Why not give yourself a better chance to lead a quality life?