Keep your Hearing in Check with Omega-3s
By Jolie Root, LPN, LNC
Among the many expected benefits of eating fish and/or
taking the marine omega-3 supplements from fish are: better
heart health, healthier brain aging, and resolution of painful
inflammatory conditions. But a surprising new benefit was
linked to fish consumption earlier this year.
Two studies in populations in the Netherlands and Australia
looked at the relationship between fish or seafood omega-3
fatty acid consumption and hearing loss in older adults. What
possible link could there be between seafood and better
hearing? The link is likely to be plaque in the arteries, which
would mean poor blood supply to the ear, contributing to the
loss or damage of cells in the ear that enable us to hear.
When the tiny hairs inside the ear become damaged or die,
we cannot replace them. These sensory cells are responsible for
sending chemical signals to nerve cells that process
loss of the
leads to the
age-related hearing loss.
This happens more often in people who have a family history
of this type of hearing loss. Another factor that increases risk
of this type of damage is consistent exposure to loud noises,
In earlier studies, age-related hearing loss was linked to heart
and blood vessel disease as well as diabetes. Because heart
disease and diabetes are conditions in which higher levels of
omega-3s are protective, it would not be surprising to learn that
the fish-derived fats protect our hearing too.
In the Dutch study, the investigators tested hearing and then
estimated the participants' fish consumption using a dietary
questionnaire. After three years, they tested the hearing again
looking to link changes in hearing to omega-3 intake. They
discovered that hearing losses were greatest in those with the
lowest consumption of seafood omega-3s.
In the Australian study, participants had their hearing
evaluated at the beginning of the study and after five years.
Their fish and seafood omega-3 intake was assessed at the
beginning of the trial. Those with the highest omega-3
consumption were about 10% less likely to have hearing
loss compared to those in the lowest-intake category.
Both studies observed significantly less hearing loss in
older adults with high intake of fish. After hearing loss was
detected, those who ate fish once to twice a week
experienced about half the rate of deterioration in their
hearing over five years as compared to those who ate
fish less than once a week.
Historically, both age-related hearing loss and heart
disease occur more frequently in men than in women.
While heart disease risk in women begins to equal that
of men as women pass the age of menopause, hearing loss
is five times more common in men than women. With
the aging of our largest segment of society, the baby
boomers, age-related hearing loss
is now twice as common
as it was in the 1970s.
This means men,
and older men in
particular, should take care
to eat fish more often.
In previous studies, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and
DHA have been shown to slow atherosclerosis, the process
by which harmful plaque develops on artery walls. This
process occurs over many years, even several decades. If
the plaque growth is slowed and the blood vessel walls are
kept healthy, a heart attack is unlikely.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA),
although the mechanisms responsible for omega-3 fatty
acids' reduction of CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk are
still being studied, research has shown:
• Decreased risk of sudden death and arrhythmia
The AHA suggests a daily dose of 1,000 mg combined EPA and
DHA for anyone who has any evidence of coronary heart disease,
and 2,000 to 4,000 mg daily for anyone who has
An innovative marine source of omega-3 has recently burst onto
the scene. The products are naturally high in the omega-3 DHA
while providing additional amounts of the omega-3 EPA as well.
The oil is an eco-friendly omega-3 sourced from calamari. Yes,
the delicacy enjoyed worldwide is also a source of marine oil that
provides the two most important omega-3s! The raw materials
used to obtain the DHA and EPA are derivatives from the food
production of calamari, which is particularly sustainable due to
the sea creature's short lifespan and rapid repopulation of stocks.
Obtaining the DHA and EPA only requires using the leftover
raw material already being fished in an eco-friendly manner
for food supply. Also, the fishing methods protect the delicate
ocean environment, specifically the ocean floor and the coral
reefs. Carlson offers products from this novel source, called
CalaOmega,available in softgels or liquid. Both of these exciting
products provide high amounts of omega-3s.
This year's research hints that taking omega-3s to protect your
heart may also protect your hearing too!
• Decreased thrombosis (blood clot)
• Decreased triglyceride levels
• Decreased growth of atherosclerotic plaque
• Improved arterial health
• Lower blood pressure