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Hearing Loss in Elderly May Be Linked to Folate Deficiency

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Low levels of folic acid (folate) may be associated with age-related hearing loss, says a new study.

Hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans aged 60 to 74. Despite that high prevalence, little is known about the biological basis of age-related hearing loss, researchers say.

This study of 126 healthy Nigerian men and women over age 60 found that low serum levels of folic acid, a B vitamin, were significantly associated with hearing loss in high frequencies.

The finding appears in the December issue of the journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

"Based on our research, age-related hearing loss may be associated with poor micronutrient status. The role of folate in cellular metabolism, the nervous system, and vascular function are important for the auditory system," study author Akeem Olawale Lasisi said in a journal news release.

The researchers called for further study into the role of vitamins in hearing, particularly in developing countries where malnutrition is common.

Folic acid is found in fruits; leafy green vegetables, such as romaine lettuce; dried beans; peas; nuts, and enriched cereals and breads. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about hearing loss.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, news release, Dec. 1, 2010

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