Good Nutrition May Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Q. Can diet affect my hearing?

A. A few studies do suggest that getting enough of certain nutrients may reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss, which affects about one-third of Americans by age 65, one-half by 75.

Can Folic Acid Fix Hearing? Most recently, a study from the Netherlands found a promising link to the B vitamin folic acid. In a group of 728 older men and women, those who received a daily supplement of 800 micrograms (twice the Daily Value) for three years experienced a small, but significant slowing of an age-related decline in hearing. However, not all studies have found such a link.

Moreover, the people in the Dutch study had elevated blood levels of homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease that may also be a risk factor for hearing loss. Folic acid is known to lower blood homocysteine by about 25%. While enriched grains are fortified with folic acid in the U.S., they aren’t in the Netherlands, so supplemental folic acid is more likely to make a difference there than here.

Bring in B12? Another study, from the University of Georgia, found that low blood levels of vitamin B12 were linked to a higher risk of hearing loss in a group of 55 healthy women aged 60 to 71. But this has yet to be confirmed by other studies.

Antioxidant Hearing Aids? Animal research recently found that a combo of antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E plus magnesium) significantly lessened noise-induced hearing loss. And research with Israeli soldiers found that magnesium provided small, but significant protection from temporary hearing loss due to noise.

EN‘s Bottom Line. It’s too early to recommend specific supplements to defend against hearing loss. But taking a daily multi and eating nutrient-rich foods is a good idea to ensure an adequate intake of folic acid, B12 and antioxidants.

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