Folate, a common B vitamin, can prevent and even reverse age-related hearing loss

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, can prevent and reverse age-related hearing loss, according to research. It works together with vitamin B12 to convert homocysteine back to methionine and eliminate it from the body.

Homocysteine is an amino acid produced in the body from the amino acid methionine. Natural health experts suggest that homocysteine levels should not go over 12 micromoles per liter (umol/L), the optimal level being at 8 umol/L. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine have been strongly linked to age-related hearing loss.

One of the causes of high homocysteine levels is having low levels of B vitamins. Studies have shown that people who suffer from age-related hearing loss have low levels of folate, while people beyond the age of 60 with normal hearing have normal folate levels. Therefore, supplementation of B vitamins lowers homocysteine and fights age-related hearing loss.

A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed the effectiveness of folate supplementation in protecting and preserving hearing. A team of researchers conducted a placebo-controlled study of more than 700 older adults. In the study, the participants were given either an 800 microgram (mcg) of folic acid, a form of folate, or a placebo each day for 36 months. Results revealed that the folic acid supplement significantly slowed down the decline in the ability of older adults to hear and recognize speech frequencies. (Related: Age related hearing loss halted with folate nutrient.)

Besides having low levels of B vitamins, there are other factors that cause homocysteine levels to increase. These include smoking cigarettes, obesity, lack of physical activity, aging, alcohol use, use of prescription drugs, and eating too much methionine-rich red meat and dairy products.

In addition to hearing loss, too much homocysteine has been associated with heart disease, stroke, and neurological problems like Alzheimer’s disease. High homocysteine levels can also damage arterial walls and cause atherosclerosis and damage the nervous system.

Natural health experts suggest that people with high homocysteine levels should immediately start to take supplements of three B vitamins: folate, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, and vitamin B12 or cobalamin, to successfully reduce homocysteine through the body’s natural detoxification pathways. Others recommend taking daily dosages of 50 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B6, 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12, and 400 mcg of folate to lower homocysteine.

Hearing loss, a common problem for older adults

Age-related hearing loss, also referred to as presbycusis, is a type of hearing loss that develops gradually as a person ages. About one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss and almost half of people older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Age-related hearing loss appears to run in families and may occur because of changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve. Having this type of hearing loss may make it difficult for a person to tolerate loud sounds or hear what others are saying. It most often affects both ears equally.

Older adults who have trouble hearing may become depressed or avoid other people to avoid being embarrassed or frustrated about not understanding what is being said. Some people may not want to admit they have difficulty hearing, while others may not also realize that they have a hearing problem, as the decline in age-related hearing loss is gradual. You may have a hearing problem if you experience the following:

  • You have difficulty hearing over the phone.
  • You find it difficult following conversations when two or more people are talking.
  • You frequently ask people to repeat what they are saying.
  • You increase the TV volume too loud that others complain.
  • You think that others are mumbling.
  • You cannot understand when women and children talk to you.

Read more news stories and studies on the benefits of B vitamins by going to

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