Ladies, Listen Up! You Especially Need to Be Proactive About Hearing Loss.Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
You have five basic senses -- sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. And if you’ve never had any major issues with these senses you most likely have taken them for granted. In other words, you don’t really know how precious these senses are until you lose one.
Hearing is a sense many of us tend to forget we are so fortunate to have. But hearing loss is no fun. Take it from actress, comedian and television host Whoopi Goldberg who wears hearing aids which she says she needs due to years of listening to loud music.
“Stop it in its tracks because not being able to hear is a bit of a b--ch. I can tell you that from experience," Goldberg said.
We have previously discussed different types of hearing loss and how to be proactive, particularly by making sure you get enough nutrients such as potassium, folate, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D and omega 3 fats.
Our ears are complex vessels, and they need these nutrients to regulate the fluid in our ears that assist in our ability to hear and promote cell growth and circulation in the ears.
Reportedly, 15 percent of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. Men are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as women. However, certain chronic diseases and medical conditions unique to women may increase their chances for hearing loss.
- Heart disease is the number one killer of women. And some research has found evidence of an association between low-frequency hearing loss and cardiovascular disease and risk factors.
- Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is much more common in women. “Hearing problems can occur naturally and gradually as you get older, but they also can be a side effect of some breast cancer treatments,” (Breastcancer.org).
- Osteoporosis is more common in women than men. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women. And, “estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. This is why the chance of developing osteoporosis increases as women reach menopause.” One study found a link between osteoporosis and hearing loss. “That study revealed a link between osteoporosis and the demineralization of the three middle ear bones, including the stapes; those who had osteoporosis were more likely to have conductive hearing loss.”
Additional health issues more common in women or that tend to cause more additional health complications in women that are associated with hearing loss include depression, autoimmune disease (like lupus), diabetes, anemia and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also important to note that estrogen loss during menopause may contribute to hearing loss.
This all isn’t to say that men should not be concerned and proactive about hearing loss. However, women really need to be aware of the role nutrition plays in preserving healthy ears and protecting the ability to hear. And the proactive tips discussed in this blog can be implemented in your life no matter your age, race or sex.
Avoid a B12 deficiency.
A report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discusses how patients who suffered from tinnitus, a type of hearing impairment that occurs due to too much exposure to loud noise, showed signs of improvement when they received vitamin B12 therapy.
Vitamin B12 helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. This is all important for metabolism, cellular and nervous system functions. So it would make sense that this nutrient could possibly have an impact on hearing.
Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which makes people tired and weak.
For foods rich in vitamin B12 and ways to avoid a deficiency, read here.
Avoid a folate deficiency.
A study involving elderly women suggested that both poor B12 and folate status may be associated with age-related auditory dysfunction.
“The cochlea of the inner ear is where much of the hearing loss in the elderly is believed to occur. The cochlea is highly vascularized and is supported by a single artery. High homocysteine concentrations associated with low vitamin B-12 status, low folate status, or both were shown to be a risk factor for cerebral, coronary, and peripheral vascular disease. Perhaps high homocysteine concentrations associated with poor vitamin B-12 or folate status also adversely affect blood flow to the cochlea.”
Avoid a vitamin D deficiency.
Another report from the NIH says that making sure that you have a sufficient intake of vitamin D could help prevent cochlear deafness. The cochlea is part of the inner ear. It contains the sensory organ of hearing.
Learn how you can avoid vitamin D deficiency, here.
I’m not talking about dieting to lose weight (although it does appear that maintaining a healthy weight and preventing metabolic issues such as heart disease and diabetes can, in turn, help prevent hearing loss).
NIH research found that healthy diets were linked to lower risk of hearing loss in women. Women involved in the study were between the ages of 27 to 44. (Remember, some hearing loss with age is a normal part of the aging process, just as our eyesight declines in older age). The women were asked every four years about their eating habits over the past year and if they experienced any moderate or severe hearing problems.
Women who followed one of the following healthy dietary patterns had about a 30 percent lower risk of hearing loss, compared to the women who did not adopt these dietary patterns:
- The alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED). This diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. This diet also encourages eating fish and if you drink alcohol, doing so in moderation.
- Dietary approaches to stop hypertension, the DASH diet. DASH encourages fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy. It also encourages you to limit sodium, sugar and bad fats.
It is also important to note that the women who did not adopt these healthy eating patterns were more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure and lead less physically active lifestyles. And as mentioned, maintaining your overall health can help prevent hearing loss as you age and help prevent diseases which may contribute to hearing loss.
So if you need yet another reason or additional motivation for eating healthily, now you have it!
Finally, it is important to avoid nutritional deficiencies and imbalances (as in too much of a certain vitamin or mineral), by regularly taking comprehensive nutrient tests. If you are not nutritionally where you need to be, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and will possibly recommend quality supplements you can integrate into your proactive healthcare routine.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.