Now Hear This: Folate May Prevent Hearing Loss

Folic acid, most commonly known to be important for women of child-bearing age, may also play a role in hearing loss for middle-aged and older men and women.

Age related hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States, affecting more than 36 million people. In fact, it affects about half of American men and about a quarter of American women by the time they reach 60. But an important nutrient may decrease your risk of this condition, which can affect people physically, psychologically and socially.

A recent study of more than 3,500 men with hearing loss found that men over the age of 60 with high folate/folic acid intake from foods and supplements had a 20% decrease in risk of developing hearing loss. It is believed to be the largest study to look at the relationship between dietary intake and hearing loss.

This is not the first time the B vitamin has been linked to the prevention of hearing loss. A 2007 study of men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related hearing loss in the low frequency region. Animal studies have also found similar results.

A different type of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). A recent comprehensive study shows that men are 2.5 times more likely to develop NIHL than women. Married, white men represent the highest risk group. NIHL is an increasingly common and preventable disorder that results from exposure to high-intensity sound, especially over a long period of time.

Folic acid is an essential vitamin needed for the production of red blood cells and normal metabolism. It also helps to protect the heart, brain and other tissues by lowering homocysteine levels.

In addition, women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant have long been encouraged to take folic acid supplement due to an overwhelming body of evidence linking folate deficiency in early pregnancy to increased risk of neural tube defects in infants.

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.

To ensure you are getting enough folic acid, take a complete daily nutritional supplement such as Basic Nutrient Support. Because of its role in cardiovascular and brain health, folic acid is also included in Cardiovascular Support and Memory & Mental Support.