July 25, 2023 -- Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of age-related hearing loss, according to new research.
“Low levels of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are linked to hearing loss in middle and old age, according to findings slated for presentation Monday at a meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, in Boston,” HealthDay reports.
But middle-aged and older people who had higher levels of DHA were 8% to 20% less likely to have hearing issues than people who have lower DHA levels, the research revealed.
None of this means that DHA prevents hearing loss, said study leader Michael McBurney of the South Dakota-based Fatty Acid Research Institute and adjunct professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. But it adds to the growing awareness of the importance of fatty acids against age-related declines in a range of body functions.
"Our findings should not be interpreted that low blood DHA levels cause hearing loss," "However, our findings add to the emerging science that DHA may play an important role in maintaining auditory function."
The findings are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal, HealthDay wrote. It’s also unclear if DHA supplements improve hearing.
In the study, researchers looked at data from 115,000 people age 40 to 69 who were part of the U.K. Biobank. People who had the highest levels of DHA were 16% more likely to have no hearing problems, compared with people who had the lowest levels.
Researchers aren’t sure how DHA might protect hearing. They say it’s possible omega-3 fatty acids protect cells in the inner ear. Or they may lessen inflammation from loud noises and infections.