According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of all Americans take vitamins or a supplement every day, with more older American women taking calcium supplements than ever before. Consumer Reports estimates the supplement industry at more than $27 billion.
While vitamins are important to overall health, some vitamins – like the ones listed in this article - are especially beneficial for maintaining your hearing health.
Because Vitamin C is considered to be an antioxidant, it’s believed to be helpful in preventing damage to hair cells in the cochlea. A strong immune system is also effective in fighting off infections, including those in the inner ear.
It may be effective in helping prevent noise-induced hearing loss, as well. Scientists at the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute conducted a study in 2008 using a cocktail of Vitamins A, C and E plus magnesium. The cocktail was given to animals in laboratory testing before they were exposed to noisy environments and found that 80 percent of noise-induced hearing loss was prevented. Researchers are now conducting tests to see if humans will benefit from the cocktail, too.
Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruit, such as oranges and grapefruit.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E improves circulation – including to the hair cells in your inner ear which depend upon good circulation for optimum health.
Foods rich in Vitamin E include almonds, sunflower oil and peanut butter.
Vitamin D is responsible for good bone health, which means the tiny bones in your inner ear benefit from it, too. A Vitamin D deficiency can cause osteopenia (bone loss) in the bones of the inner ear and otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear) which can lead to hearing loss and deafness.
Foods rich in Vitamin D include many kinds of fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel) and milk.
Studies have shown that individuals with vitamin B-12 deficiencies are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Research published in the March 1999 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that a vitamin B-12 deficiency – especially when combined with low folate levels -- may also be responsible for presbycusis (age-related hearing loss).
Foods rich in B-12 include sunflower seeds, spinach and almonds.
While studies show vitamin deficiencies contribute to a variety of health problems, eating a balanced diet is still the best way to get the nutrients your body needs to function effectively. Please consult with your family doctor before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.