Is Lack of Folate Harming your Hearing?


I get a lot of email here at the Health Hound regarding hearing loss. It is an important issue for many of you, and I like to keep up with the latest research regarding it. Today I came across a new article on just that subject and decided to do a little digging myself, to find out if what it says is true. Read on to see what I found…

The article by S.L. Baker claims that one of the biggest culprits in hearing loss is lack of B vitamins in your diet, and most notably, folate1. Now, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the best sources of folate (which again is a B vitamin) are cooked dried beans, chickpeas (MMM! Think: Hummus!) and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, but other important sources of folate are orange juice, breads, and healthy breakfast cereals2.

Keep in mind, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 400 micrograms per day (ug/d) but most Americans only take in about 242 ug/d. Not enough.

Baker’s article sites a study in the Netherlands that provided study participants with supplements of folate, and found their hearing loss to be delayed. Sure, you’re saying, but that is one study. That’s not enough proof! But wait, there’s more. Last year a Boston-based research firm presented evidence which showed when men over the age of 60 had a high intake of folate, either from food or supplements, they reduced their risk of hearing loss by 20%.

This is not the first time this has been reported, either. Way back in 1999 a group of researchers studied elderly women and hearing loss. As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition3, 55 healthy women, aged 60 to 71 years of age were followed. The women in the study with impaired hearing had 38% less folate in their bodies than women their ages with normal hearing. The study concluded that folate may be a factor in hearing loss.

Folks, you know I always make my pack take their daily vitamins, and now I think it is even more important to make sure that they-and you, take a folate supplement, or eat more leafy greens. Think like Popeye, and eat your spinach! Be strong to the finish!

1) Baker, S.L. (2010). Age related hearing loss halted with folate nutrtient. 2010.
2) Block, G., James, D., Subar, A. (1989). “Folate intake and food sources in the US population.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Publisher, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc.

3) Houston, D., Johnson. M, Nozza, R., Gunter, E., Shea, K. (1999). Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B-12, and folate in elderly women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 69:3, 564-571.


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