It's amazing – perhaps disappointing or shocking might be a better word – the abuse many people inflict on their ears, and hearing, all for the sake of enhancing a listening experience. Such as putting on headphones or inserting earbuds and cranking up the music to skull-splitting proportions. Fact is, our ears – and, along with that, our hearing – need love, too, a fact that goes beyond just turning down the volume of your favorite heavy-metal band or hip-hop artist. Taking care of our ears is about more than just pumping down the volume on the music, (carefully) cleaning out the wax in our ears, or wearing ear protection in areas bombarded by decibels, such as a construction site overrun by jackhammers and other clattering machinery, the field artillery range at the local army post, or on a busy airport tarmac. Nutrition in the forms of supplements and vitamins – as well as a balanced diet and, yes, even exercise, per audicus.com – also plays a role in the health of our ears/hearing. Anyone suffering from hearing loss has plenty of company; it could even involve the person in the cubicle next to you or the mother seated across the aisle from you on the airplane. Per articles.mercola.com, about 360 million people worldwide suffer from some form of hearing loss because of a variety of causes, such as exposure to loud noises, infectious disease, aging, and drug use. It's been estimated that about half of all hearing-loss cases are avoidable.
Hearing-loss PreventionHear ye! Hear ye! Researchers have found that some compounds and/or supplements have proven effective in preventing hearing loss – or even reversing those effects. Case in point: resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, among other places. Per accuquest.com, resveratrol has been found to not only reduce bad cholesterol and damage to blood vessels, but also fight the free radicals in our bodies that have a hand in causing hearing loss. This is not a call to load up your daily meal consumption with glasses of red wine; in fact, a healthier option might be supplements containing resveratrol, as the alcohol found in wine might counteract the antioxidant's benefits. As for hearing-loss prevention, a chemical compound known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) – a precursor to vitamin B3, per medicalnewstoday.com – used by researchers on mice before or after exposing them to loud noises reportedly thwarted damage to the synaptic connections in the mice, thus preventing both long-term and short-term hearing loss.
Vitamins and Supplements that Support Ear HealthFollowing are some vitamins and supplements that health experts believe to be supportive of ear/hearing health. As always, before adding any of these to your menu, be sure to discuss with your physician:
- Vitamin A. A study using vitamin A supplements indicated that a group of 3,000 people over age 50 had a significantly reduced risk of moderate to severe hearing loss, per natural-treatments-for.com.
- Astaxanthin. Believed to improve chances of recovery from noise-induced hearing impairment.
- BDNF. This stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which, per articles.mercola.com, has a key role in the development and survival of the brain's auditory neurons.
- Folate (Vitamin B9). Per accuquest.com, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when elderly women were given supplements of folate combined with B12 showed fewer cases of hearing loss than women of the same age deficient in B12 and folate.
- Gingko biloba. By improving capillary blood circulation, it can help prevent further hearing loss.
- Hawthorn berry. Also believed to improve blood flow, thus helpful in preventing hearing loss.
- Magnesium. It is believed to obstruct the effects of free radicals that accompany loud noises, in effect protecting the inner ear's delicate hairs.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3). Has been shown to ramp up blood flow to the inner ear's microcapillaries that feed the auditory nerve, per natural-treatments-for.com.
- Potassium. An abundant supply of potassium is needed for the fluid in the inner ear, which is the part of the ear responsible for converting noises we hear into the electrical impulses that our brain interprets as sound, per healthyhearing.com.
- Resveratrol. An antioxidant (described in more detail earlier in this blog) effective at combatting free radicals that can cause hearing loss.
- Vitamin B12. See folate above.
- Zinc. As an immune system booster, zinc could help in fighting off the germs that can cause things such as ear infections.