As we get older, hearing is one of the first things to go. But it doesn’t just happen overnight. It starts slowly…
You notice you have to turn the TV volume up a little louder at first. Maybe you’ll find yourself asking friends to repeat themselves more often. But hearing loss isn’t just a nuisance. It could compromise your safety if you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Think about it. How safe is driving if you can’t hear other cars honk?
Thankfully, there are safe and natural ways to start boosting your hearing right away. Here are 5 nutrients you can add to your diet to take control of your hearing.
1. Zinc: You may know it as the mineral that can boost your immune system and support prostate health. But it’s also a great way to help keep your hearing at its best.
Research shows that taking 50 mg of zinc each day for two months reduced symptoms of tinnitus in 82 percent of subjects.1 Tinnitus is a buzzing or ringing in the ears. It can be the result of injury or age-related hearing loss.
Another study finds that zinc can improve how quickly people recover after experiencing sudden hearing loss.2 Higher levels of this mineral in the blood were associated with better quality of hearing.
You can get it from shellfish like oysters. But you can also get it from eggs, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Or, of course, from a quality supplement.
2. Resveratrol: This antioxidant supports heart health and a longer life. It’s also a good excuse to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. But a surprising benefit is that it may actually help restore your hearing.
In one study, resveratrol dramatically lowered the amount of COX-2 in the inner ears of rats after exposure to 24 hours of noise.3 COX-2 is a protein that causes inflammation and may contribute to hearing loss.
Resveratrol effectively lowers inflammation and fights free radicals in the body. Keeping these in check are important when it comes to avoiding disease, including hearing loss. But this research shows that it may protect your hearing from direct noise exposure as well.
You can get resveratrol from red wine and from grapes. You can also find it in supplement form at most health food stores.
3. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): It can reduce oxidative stress from exercise, replenish glutathione levels, and even prevent cancer from developing.4 And it’s this oxidative stress protection that makes it a great way to keep your hearing intact.
One study shows that supplementing with 1,200 mg of NAC per day for two weeks significantly decreased noise-related hearing loss of the subjects.5
Another study found that taking a NAC supplement did not completely prevent hearing loss, but it did significantly reduce it after prolonged exposure to noise.6
Since NAC does not naturally occur in foods, you have to take this one as a supplement if you want to help your hearing. But if you eat poultry or yogurt, you can get a good amount of cysteine. Your body can use this to make NAC.7
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s fight inflammation and prevent heart disease. But these healthful fats are also shown to help prevent hearing loss.
One study finds that eating two servings of fatty fish per week can reduce risk of age-related hearing loss by over 40 percent in nearly 3,000 people over 50 years old.8
Hearing loss that can come with old age may not be a problem of the ears, but a problem with how the brain communicates with them.9 So in addition to fighting inflammation, omega-3s may help signals get sent between your brain and your ears more effectively.
Of course, you can get these fatty acids from wild caught cold water fish like salmon. But you can also take it as a supplement. We recommend krill oil because it can cross the blood-brain barrier without the help of other fats.
5. Vitamin A: This vitamin helps maintain a strong immune system. It’s essential for reproductive health and clear vision. But it also plays a role in the quality of your hearing as you get older.
In a study of nearly 3,000 subjects over 50 years of age, supplementing with vitamin A helped reduce risk of moderate to severe hearing loss by almost 50 percent.10 That’s significant. Best of all? The protective effects lasted for five years. Talk about long-term benefits!
Most people know that you can get this vitamin from carrots. You can also get it in higher amounts from different foods. Some of the best sources of it are sweet potato and beef liver. Of course, you can also find it as a supplement if beef liver isn’t a regular on your shopping list.
Listen, nobody wants to lose their hearing. And none of us wants to wind up with a hearing aid. Adding more of any of these natural substances to your daily routine may be the most effective way to keep your hearing loud and clear as you get older.