Can omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hearing loss?

A new study found a link between higher omega-3 fatty acids and less age-related hearing loss ...

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY – Researchers from the University of Guelph and Tufts University/Fatty Acid Research Institute have found a link between increased omega-3 fatty acids in the blood and less age-related hearing issues.

As we age, it is not uncommon for the effectiveness of some of our senses — including vision, hearing, and taste — to decrease.

In fact, research shows the rate of hearing loss increases with age. In the United States, about 25% of people ages 65 to 74 and almost half of adults aged 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.

Although age-related hearing loss cannot yet be stopped, people can take steps to safeguard their hearing, such as avoiding loud noises and using hearing protection when in high-noise situations.

Now researchers from the University of Guelph and Tufts University/Fatty Acid Research Institute have found middle-aged and older adults with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were 8-20% less likely to report age-related hearing issues compared to those with lower DHA levels.

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Dr. Michael I. McBurney, a senior scientist with the Fatty Acid Research Institute and lead author of this study, told Medical News Today they decided to study the effect of omega-3s on age-related hearing issues as they were intrigued by findings in animals that offspring hearing development was affected by maternal omega-3 intake during pregnancy.

“Cochlear metabolism in animals was affected by omega-3s. Higher consumption of fish and omega-3s was inversely associated with age-related hearing loss in humans. So we decided to explore the relationship between plasma omega-3 levels and self-reported hearing loss in the UK Biobank cohort — a very large cross-sectional study.”

— Dr. Michael I. McBurney, lead study author

For this study, Dr. McBurney and his team used self-reported hearing status and blood DHA levels of more than 100,000 people ages 40-69 from the UK Biobank.

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