Posted on Dec 20, 2010, 6 a.m.
Low serum levels of folic acid (folate) may be a primary contributor to age-related hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a major public health problem globally, with more than 28 million Americans between the ages of 60 and 74 dealing with the condition. Despite the high prevalence of hearing impairment, the biological basis of age-related hearing loss, one of the four most prevalent chronic conditions in the elderly, is unknown. Recognizing that folic acid (folate) is an essential nutrient involved in cellular metabolism, the nervous system, and vascular function – all of which contribute to the health of the auditory system -- Akeem Olawale Lasisi, from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), and colleagues interviewed 126 Nigerian men and women, ages 60 years and older, who were generally healthy (did not have a history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, ear diseases, ear infections, ear trauma, ear surgery, or exposure to noise and ototoxic drugs). The team found that low serum levels of folic acid were significantly associated with high-frequency hearing loss in the elderly. The team offers their findings as encouragement for further research into the role of vitamins in auditory function, particularly in developing countries where malnutrition is rife.
Akeem Olawale Lasisi, Fatai A. Fehintola, Oyindamola Bidemi Yusuf. “Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B12, and folate in the elderly.” Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, December 2010, Vol. 143, Issue 6, Pages 826-830.