Researchers measured hearing abilities in 2,956 men and women, aged at least 50. They also measured antioxidant levels in their diets.
After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, smoking, occupational noise exposure, family hearing and medical history, scientists found that as levels of vitamin E in the diet rose, chances of hearing loss fell.
For vitamin A, compared to those who got the least, those who got the most vitamin A in the diet were 47 percent less likely to lose hearing.
In a related study of the same participants, doctors said that prior research linked low levels of folate and/or vitamin B12 to an inflammatory factor called homocysteine, which in turn increases chances for heart and blood vessel diseases.
Because the hearing organ in the inner ear requires adequate blood flow, researchers thought they might find a link between folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine, and hearing quality.
Doctors measured hearing loss in the participants and found that those with elevated levels of inflammatory homocysteine were 64 percent more likely to have hearing loss compared to those with lower homocysteine levels.
While researchers did not find a direct link to vitamin B12, those who had low levels of another B-vitamin, folate—less than 11 nanomoles per liter of blood—were 37 percent more likely to have mild hearing loss compared to those with higher folate levels.