People over 60 with good hearing had healthy levels of a certain nutrient… while those with hearing trouble had low levels. In fact, they had levels only about 2/3 as high as the people with good hearing.
Hearing loss is a serious problem for mature adults. They miss conversations, have to turn up the TV, shout so they can hear their own voices… and spend money they often can’t afford on hearing aids. Many wind up feeling lonely and isolated.
More than 28 million Americans – aged 60 – 74 – suffer from some degree of hearing loss. They’re often told that it’s a normal part of aging. But a new study shows that may not be the case at all.
In fact, if you take action now, you may be able to avoid the problem altogether.
It turns out that much of the hearing loss once thought to be due to “wear and tear” may not be. It may be a nutritional problem. Here’s the story…
Doctors in Nigeria see a lot of hearing loss in mature adults. Living in a poor country, they also see a lot of nutritional deficiencies. So a team there decided to look at nutrition status and hearing loss.
What they found was a clear pattern. People over 60 with good hearing had healthy levels of a certain nutrient… while those with hearing trouble had low levels. In fact, they had levels only about 2/3 as high as the people with good hearing.
So what is this nutrient? It’s folate – one of the B vitamins.(1)
Folate has several important functions. For example, you need it to control homocysteine levels. (High homocysteine has been linked to heart trouble.) It’s also critical for healthy DNA function.
And now we’ve discovered it may also promote better hearing throughout life.
According to the study’s lead author, “The role of folate in cellular metabolism, the nervous system, and vascular function are important for the auditory system.”
As with any nutrient, the best source of folate is food. And getting the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) isn’t too hard for most people. The current RDA is 400 mcg… and just a half-cup of cooked lentils provides almost half that.
Some other folate-rich foods are liver – especially chicken liver – spinach, asparagus and garbanzo beans. Even 6 ounces of orange juice provides about 20% of your daily requirement.
If you eat a lot of green, leafy vegetables, you may be getting enough folate from your food. If not, taking a supplement is a good idea.
Most supplements include folic acid – a more stable form of the vitamin your body can convert to folate.
With the critical roles folate plays in your body, getting enough every day should be a goal. And with the new evidence for your hearing, that goal is more important than ever.
By Dr. Kenneth Woliner on 01/30/2011
1 Lasisi AO, et al. Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B12, and folate in the elderly. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, Volume 143, Issue 6, Pages 826-830 (December 2010)
1 Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, Volume 143, Issue 6, Pages 826-830 (December 2010) Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B12, and folate in the elderly
Akeem Olawale Lasisi, MBChB, FWACS, FMCORLa, Fatai A. Fehintola, MBBS, MSc, FMCPb, Oyindamola Bidemi Yusuf, PhDc, Received 21 June 2010; received in revised form 24 August 2010; accepted 25 August 2010. published online 26 October 2010.