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Homocysteine Levels & Hearing

Hearing loss puts considerable burden on sufferers and those with whom they associate.  The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that more than 37 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss, with more than 30 percent of adults between 65 and 74 years of age being hearing impaired.
 
The obvious question: Was too much loud jazz and rock and roll in our youth to blame for boomer and slightly later generations' hearing loss, or could it possibly be nutritional deficiencies?
 
The Blue Mountains Hearing Study (BMHS) evaluated hearing in 2,956 subjects who were part of the famous Blue Mountains Eye Study. The subjects were evaluated for serum concentrations of the amino acid homocysteine, folate and vitamin B12. This is the largest community-based cohort to have assessed the association between serum homocysteine concentrations, B vitamins and age-related hearing loss.
 
The BMHS results showed that nearly two-thirds of the subjects with elevated serum homocysteine suffered hearing loss compared with less than one-third of those with normal serum homocysteine levels.  
 
The study participants with the highest homocysteine levels were 32 percent more likely to have hearing loss. 
 
Homocysteine levels are elevated during B vitamin deficiency and thought to be both a vascular toxin and neurotoxin. It's suggested that poor B vitamin status, particularly folate, could adversely influence the vascular and nervous system structure and function of the auditory system due to the role it plays in cellular metabolism, vascular perfusion and myelin synthesis. 
 
In another US hearing loss study on 55 women over the age of 60, serum vitamin B12 and folate levels were inversely associated with hearing loss in both unadjusted and age-adjusted analyses. However, its also important to report that a Danish study on 91 adults aged 67 through88 demonstrated non significant associations between serum folate, B vitamins, homocysteine and hearing loss.
 
So maybe runaway age-related hearing loss actually is linked to way too much loud rock and roll in our youth.
 
 

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