Omega-3 and age-related hearing loss

It is estimated that around 20% of people (over 1.5 billion people worldwide) live with hearing loss, and this number is expected to rise as the population ages in the coming decades. Hearing loss can range from mild to profound, and it affects communication and social interactions, educational and job opportunities, and many other aspects of daily life. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA, in maintaining health and in helping protect against aging-related declines in a variety of body functions.

In this population-based cross-sectional study evaluating cross-sectional associations between plasma omega-3 fatty acids, i.e., docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and self-reported hearing loss, data on 502 639 individuals ages 40-69 years of age, collected between 2007-2010 were analysed.

Results showed that middle-aged and older adults with higher DHA levels were 8-20% less likely to report age-related hearing issues than those with lower DHA levels. While the results show a significant association between DHA levels and hearing, researchers stated that a cross-sectional population study does not provide enough evidence to definitively conclude that DHA maintains auditory function or that inadequate DHA levels contribute to hearing loss, and that many other factors also contribute to hearing loss.

The findings however add to a mounting body of evidence of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA in particular, to maintain health and help protect against aging-related declines in a variety of body functions.