How chocolate can help your hearing

Feel the need to justify your chocolate habit? Well, as long as your habit involves chocolate of the darker variety (at least 70 percent cocoa), I can help.

Amongst its many benefits, dark chocolate contains zinc and magnesium, essential trace elements studies show could help protect against age related hearing loss, as well as the hearing damage that arises as a result of sustained exposure to damaging noise levels.

Granted, chocolate isn’t a cure-all, especially as it’s probably not possible to get your entire recommended daily intake without blowing out your waistline, but it certainly won’t hurt!

Zinc is so important to our hearing. Tissues and organs especially higher in an essential trace element, as those required for our senses (our ears and eyes), may suffer structural and functional impairment from its deficiency.

In one study, a third of patients marginally deficient in zinc and given supplementation showed improvement in tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss.

As with all vitamins and minerals, getting your zinc from natural sources is preferable to supplementing as it allows your body to more easily process and expel excess levels.

That said, a higher dosage of zinc may be prescribed by your doctor if you are found to be deficient. Some studies have found a tendency towards lower zinc content in test subjects 60 years and over. It’s believed that this increased deficiency is caused by a combination of incorrect dietary choices and impaired absorption due to the low stomach acid, or ‘gastric achlorhydria’, associated with ageing.

If you’d like to start adding zinc to your diet, it’s not hard. Aside from dark chocolate, other good food sources include:

  • Seafood (especially oysters and crab),
  • Grass fed beef, lamb and veal,
  • Eggs (the yolk in particular),
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds,
  • Cashews,
  • Chicken,
  • Mushrooms, and
  • Spinach.

Of course, zinc isn’t the only thing that helps with hearing. A deficiency in B12 is often found in people with hearing problems.  Vitamins A, C E and magnesium also help, as I discussed in a blog titled Diet and healthy hearing.

Be safe and check with your doctor before embarking on a supplement regime. Along with regular hearing checks and wearing hearing aids when you need them, the evidence indicates that healthy eating can support healthy hearing.

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