02 February 2011

Folate may reduce or delay hearing loss

At least three surveys indicate that folate may benefit your hearing.

Low blood levels of folate are associated with a 35% increased risk of hearing loss, according to a study from Australia. Folate is the natural source of vitamin B9. The study strengthens the link between B-vitamins and hearing.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have examined blood levels of folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine and correlated this with the risk of age-related hearing loss.

The data showed that folate levels below 11 nanomoles per litre were associated with a 34% increased risk of age-related hearing loss. In addition, levels of homocysteine over 20 micromoles per litre were associated with a 64% increase in the risk of hearing loss. The study was based on a population of 2,956 people aged 50 and over.

Other surveys

This is not the first time the B-vitamin has been linked with the prevention of hearing loss.

In 2009, at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting in San Diego, Boston-based researchers revealed that men over the age of 60 with high folate intake from foods and supplements had a 20% decrease in the risk of developing hearing loss. This survey also showed that increased intakes of antioxidant vitamins have no bearing on whether or not a man will develop hearing loss.

In 2007, scientists from Wageningen University reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related hearing loss in the low frequency region in a study of 728 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70
While the data from Australia does show a correlation, it does not prove that higher levels of folate may reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss. Indeed, the researchers state: ?large prospective studies will be required in the future to assess these associations?.

Found in many vegetables

High folate foods include leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lettuces, dried or fresh beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate. Baker's yeast, liver and liver products also contain high amounts of folate. Therefore you can increase your level of folate though your diet.
Folate is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth. Children and adults both require folic acid in order to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia. Folate and folic acid derive their names from the Latin word folium (meaning "leaf").

Sources: Journal of Nutrition and Eurekalert

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