For National Nutrition Month, we decided to explore the nutrients that are good for your hearing, as well as you overall health. Read on to find out which foods you should include in your diet to give your hearing system the support it needs.
Food sources for Vitamin B12
Animal products are excellent sources of Vitamin B12, which is required for red blood cell formation, neurological health, and blood flow. Since the delicate hair cells in your ears are very sensitive to increases or decreases in blood flow, maintaining optimal levels is crucial. The following food items contain B12:
- Red meat (especially liver) and clams are the richest sources, with typical 3 ounce servings containing significantly more B12 than you need on a daily basis (over 100%).
- Fortified breakfast cereals usually include 100% of your daily allowance in a single serving.
- Certain fish, including trout, salmon, tuna, and haddock, contain 30%-90% of your daily value.
- Dairy products, chicken, ham, and eggs contain less, but not insignificant levels (between 5%-18%)
When it comes to meat and dairy, we suggest choosing lean and low-fat options to avoid other risks to hearing and health, such as high cholesterol. As for cereal, make sure you avoid sugary choices even if they’re fortified, as high sugar intake contributes to diabetes, a known co-morbidity of hearing loss.
Food sources of folate
Another B vitamin complex, folate, occurs naturally in food. You may be more familiar with its equivalent, folic acid, which is available in supplements. Both support healthy blood flow like Vitamin B12, along with proper cell division. Like B12, animal sources of folate include meats, poultry, fish, and dairy, but except for liver, it can be found in higher quantities in grains and plants.
- Beef liver contains the highest daily volume of folate at 54%.
- Enriched grain products, including bread, cereal, rice and pasta contribute significant amounts of folic acid to the American diet, thanks to a 1998 mandate adding it into these commonly-consumed foods.
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach and cruciferous options like asparagus, are significant sources of folate, ranging from 8%-33%.
- Legumes like peas, peanuts, and beans contain healthy amounts of folate, ranging from 4% – 26% of the recommended daily volume.
- Fruits, including bananas, oranges, and papaya, provide 4% to 10% of folate daily.
Other nutrients that support hearing health
While you’re making healthy eating choices, keep in mind that the following nutrients have also been pegged as good for your hearing health, taken alone or in conjunction with one another:
- Vitamins A, C, D, and E
- Omega 3 fatty acids
For more information about nutrients that support hearing function, talk to your primary care physician or a hearing care professional.