The human body is the perfect example of needing sufficient care to function at its greatest capacity. One of the most critical aspects of this care is one’s diet. Without the proper diet, the human body could not perform all its daily functions to the necessary levels.
Although many people relate physical fitness with proper food, the effects of one’s diet extend much further than physical ability. Hearing health is one area where diet plays a key role. There are plenty of foods that improve hearing.
At the same time, there may even be foods that cause ear infections in some cases. So learning about how to improve hearing naturally can provide significant benefits for individuals and families.
Although getting the proper foods and nutrients in your diet can be difficult at times, it’s something that should be a priority. In an age where there are plenty of cheap, fast food options, taking the time to buy, prepare, and cook a healthy meal can be difficult. However, you can get the right minerals and vitamins for your hearing by eating the proper foods.
Foods & Vitamins for Ear Health
To learn which foods you must eat to keep your ears and hearing health, you must know what vitamins and minerals you need. Different kinds of foods contain various substances that play specific roles in the human body. For example, calcium is vital in building strong bones. Similarly, the following are critical vitamins for ear health.
Growing up, most kids learned that potassium helps prevent your muscles from cramping. But, in reality, potassium does much more. It helps regulate the fluid levels in your body and within your inner ear .
The inner ear fluids are naturally rich in potassium, which means your diet should contain plenty of it for proper health! Plus, fluid levels may drop as people age, which contributes to age-related hearing loss, so adequate potassium intake may help fight the drop in levels.
Although it’s common knowledge that bananas have potassium, there are many other foods you can eat to get your potassium. These include oranges, apricots, raisins, cooked spinach, cooked broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, cucumbers, avocados, and more.
For years, magnesium has been studied and prescribed as a dietary supplement. This is because it has numerous benefits ranging from neuroprotective properties to regulating muscle function to protecting against hearing loss.
Various studies have shown that magnesium can reduce the likelihood of your hair cells receiving permanent damage from loud noises. Magnesium also reduces cell damage by either inhibiting destructive free radicals or protecting cells against free radicals .
Considering how adequate magnesium can prevent hearing loss, it’s lucky, so many foods contain the substance. What’s better, foods like dark chocolate, avocados, and nuts are all high in magnesium! For magnesium intake, other foods you can eat are legumes, seeds, whole grains, leafy greens, and fatty fish like salmon or halibut.
Zinc is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects when taken as a supplement or eaten through foods . One study even showed that patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss who took zinc supplements could improve their hearing recovery .
Furthermore, zinc may be taken as a supplement to help prevent sudden hearing loss. Zinc has also been shown to have immune-enhancing properties that may help fight off ear infections.
Today, most Americans get their zinc from red meat and poultry products. However, chickpeas, beans, lentils, seeds, peanuts, cashews, almonds, whole grains, and even dairy products and dark chocolate contain zinc.
Folate and Folic Acid
Folate, and its artificial derivative, folic acid, play critical roles in regulating blood circulation. With optimal folate levels within the body, individuals will have cell growth stimulated within their ears.
What’s more, studies have shown that people with folic acid deficiency succumb to age-related hearing loss more often than those without a deficiency . Thus, folic acid supplements may be able to help limit age-related hearing loss.
Folate is a naturally occurring B vitamin found in a variety of foods. To get this vitamin via your diet, include more broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, peas, kidney beans, and other leafy green vegetables, which act as superfoods for hearing. Many breakfast kinds of cereal also come fortified with folic acid.
Omega 3 fatty acids seem to be one of those help-all minerals that can help prevent countless common ailments. However, the reality is that omega 3s play a key role in many processes, including preventing age-related hearing loss. For example, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that if you eat fresh fish twice per week, you can reduce the likelihood of developing hearing loss by 42% .
Unfortunately, the human body cannot produce omega-three fatty acids naturally. That means you have to consume it. And the best way to get this fatty acid is through fresh, fatty fish. Fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and herring are all fatty fish. Beyond fish, you can eat flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and different plant oils to get your omega 3s in.
Intake of vitamin D is necessary for having strong and healthy bones. Without the proper levels of this vitamin, your bones could become weak and lose their utility.
Vitamin D isn’t just essential for the major bones in the body and the small, delicate ones within the ear. As a result, individuals with vitamin D deficiency can develop osteopenia, leading to deafness or sudden sensorineural hearing loss .
Historically, people got most of their Vitamin D from being in the sun. However, with many people spending more time indoors, a large population of the U.S. and beyond may have vitamin D deficiency. To get vitamin D, foods that you can eat include salmon, herring, tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified foods like soy milk, cows’ milk, orange juice, and some cereals.
Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient that keeps your blood cells and nerves healthy. Studies have shown that when people are deficient in B12, they experience neuronal death and other damage to nerves within the inner ear.
The result of vitamin B12 deficiency is typically tinnitus and, in some cases, hearing loss . Taking vitamin B12 supplements or eating foods high in them may help you manage symptoms of tinnitus.
As vitamin B12 is produced through bacteria, it is typically only found in animal products. Therefore, to naturally consume more vitamin B12, you must eat chicken, beef, liver, eggs, fish, shellfish, and dairy products. Also, many fortified kinds of cereal come with vitamin B12.
Foods to Avoid
Many foods found in our supermarket aisles may be marketed as healthy, but they are not. For example, all the pasta, rice, white bread, and foods with enriched white flour are generally not healthy.
When you want to eat a healthy diet that helps maintain your hearing health, you should avoid these foods. What’s more, some foods to avoid during ear infections are listed as they are often linked to allergies and infections.
Studies have shown that ear infections in children are often the result of food allergies. Within the food allergies, dairy products make up a large percentage. Thus, if you have an ear infection, it’s a good idea to stay away from dairy products.
Many high-fat types of meat have been treated with preservatives which may increase the likelihood of developing tinnitus.
Margarine and other hydrogenated oils are heavily processed and can lead to inflammation. These should be avoided generally, but also, especially if you have an ear infection.
These products are processed in a way that nutrients are naturally removed from the grains.
Ear Health Supplement
When you think of the vitamins for your ears’ health, you likely think of magnesium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Although you can eat food to get enough of each, you can also supplement your diet. This will help ensure that you’re getting the vitamin and minerals you need for proper ear and hearing health.
To help prevent noise-induced hearing loss, you can take a magnesium supplement. Studies have shown that supplementation of magnesium can help reduce inner ear damage from noise and tinnitus symptoms. It does so by blocking free radicals from damaging the tiny hair cells within the inner ear.
Similarly, you can take supplements of vitamin B12 to ensure you don’t have a deficiency that could otherwise lead to hearing impairments. If you adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may struggle to get the necessary amounts of vitamin B12. Thus, you may want to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Additionally, as many people are not spending enough time in the sun, taking a vitamin D supplement is a good idea. This vitamin serves many purposes in the human body, but it also plays a crucial role in keeping those delicate inner ear bones healthy. Plus, as adults age, they naturally have less vitamin D in their system, which means a supplement can significantly improve bone health.