Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis. The body needs B12 and folic acid to convert it to a form that is not harmful to the body. Folic acid is also necessary for the body to make new cells.
Folic acid deficiency is fairly common. The word “folic” has the same root as the word “foliage”, because the main source for it in the diet is fresh produce. It is also a fairly unstable vitamin and is destroyed by cooking.
Previous studies have shown that having inadequate folate levels in the blood is linked to poor hearing. Folic acid supplementation may improve hearing by reducing homocysteine levels. Research appearing in the January 2, 2007 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, examines whether folic acid supplementation can actually slow down age-related hearing loss.
Researchers evaluated hearing in 728 subjects aged between 50 and 70 years. The subjects were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given 800 mcg. of folic acid per day, the other was given a placebo. None of the subjects had any pathologic hearing problems unrelated to age. The researchers also eliminated subjects who had high homocysteine levels.
After three years, the hearing of both groups was re-evaluated. The threshold for low frequency hearing increased by 1.0 dB in the folate group, significantly less than the increase noted in the control group.