Apr 16, 2023

11 Vitamins and Minerals to Support Hearing Health

Surprisingly, avocados have more potassium than bananas, which are generally considered the go-to food for this mineral. Potatoes, both white and sweet, are a good source; just leave the skin on and be sure to scrub well before cooking, frying or baking. Beans, lentils and soybeans provide a solid amount of this unsung nutritional hero. Tomatoes and tomato juice, carrot juice and orange juice also contain potassium.

Folate and folic acid are two forms of water-soluble vitamin B9. This B-complex vitamin helps make the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Folate is the naturally occurring form, and folic acid is synthetic. A study from Australia links low levels of B vitamins, notably B9, to the risk of age-related hearing loss. Researchers found that those with low levels were much more likely to suffer hearing loss.

Luckily, you don't have to look far to find foods naturally rich in folate; they’re widely available. Asparagus and beets are a good source. Dark-green leafy vegetables (think turnip greens, spinach and romaine lettuce) provide a folate-rich base for salads; sprinkle on some chopped peanuts and sunflower seeds for a bit of crunch and, if you like, top it with a chopped hard-cooked egg. Add a few slices of roasted chicken breast and you’ve just helped your hearing, as well as satisfied your taste buds. And for dessert? Peel an orange or a tangerine. Citrus fruits also contain folate. Folic acid is generally added to bread, flour, breakfast cereals and fortified foods.

Zinc is a powerful mineral intimately involved in metabolism, a chemical reaction in the body that changes food into energy for everything from thinking to digestion. By boosting your immune system, zinc helps to protect against germs that cause the common cold, which may lead to ear infections that affect hearing. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body, but the inner ear contains particularly high concentrations. Studies report a link between zinc deficiency and tinnitus, an annoyingly constant ringing, humming or buzzing in your ears that no one but you can hear. ​

You can find zinc in a variety of meats, especially red meat and dark-meat chicken; legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans; nuts, including cashews, almonds and peanuts; eggs and dairy products; and both sweet and white potatoes.

Nissa Simon is a health writer and editor whose articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Newsweek, The New York Times, Time, Vogue and other national publications. She is also the author of two books for teens on health.

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