Omega-3 Potentially Linked With Protected Hearing

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, was shown to be negatively connected with hearing impairment in a recent population-based cross-sectional study, according to researchers.

Age-related hearing problems were eight to 20% less prevalent in middle-aged and older persons with greater DHA levels than those with lower DHA levels.

Higher DHA levels have previously been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and mortality, according to nutrition expert Michael I. McBurney. This study expands upon these findings, which contend that DHA plays a part in preserving auditory function and lowering the likelihood of age-related hearing loss.

The researchers examined the blood DHA levels and self-reported hearing status of more than 100,000 UK residents between the ages of 40 and 69 using information from the UK Biobank.

After controlling for potential confounding factors, the findings revealed that those with blood DHA levels in the highest quintile, or about 20% of participants, were 16% less likely than those in the lowest quintile to respond positively to the question, "Do you have difficulty hearing?"

Similarly, those in the highest quintile of DHA levels were 11% less likely than those in the lowest quintile of DHA levels to say they had trouble understanding talks when there was background noise.

Although the findings indicate a substantial correlation between DHA levels and hearing, McBurney advised that cross-sectional population research does not offer sufficient proof to draw firm conclusions about whether DHA preserves auditory function or if insufficient DHA levels cause hearing loss.

The findings, however, contribute to a growing body of research demonstrating the value of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, in preserving health and preventing deficits in various bodily processes brought on by age. Omega-3 fatty acids may lessen inflammatory reactions to loud noises, toxins, or diseases or safeguard the health of inner ear cells.

According to earlier research on older individuals and animals, higher omega-3 levels are negatively correlated with and may protect against age-related hearing loss. Because DHA is not something our systems can make, how much of it is in our blood and tissues mainly relies on how much omega-3 we consume. Regular seafood consumption and dietary supplements both work to raise DHA levels.

There is strong evidence that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial. Fatty fish and omega-3 supplements are both good dietary sources. If choosing to use a dietary supplement, compare products by reading the Supplement Facts panel for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)+DHA content.

- McBurney

Over 1.5 billion individuals globally, or 20% of the population, are thought to have hearing loss, a number that is likely to grow as the population ages in the ensuing decades. From mild to severe, hearing loss can impact many facets of everyday life, including communication and social interactions, educational and employment options, and many more.

Genetic predispositions, environmental factors, and medications influence hearing loss. Protective equipment to shield the ears from loud noises and receiving the proper medical attention for infections are practical approaches to lower the chance of hearing loss.

McBurney presented the research at NUTRITION 2023, the American Society for Nutrition's premier annual conference, from July 22 to July 25.

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