A natural hearing aid

Most people think of folic acid as the anti-birth-defect nutrient. (If they think of it at all, that is.) And while it is critical for pregnant women to make sure they’re getting plenty of this essential nutrient to protect their unborn babies–that’s not folic acid’s only benefit.

In fact, this is one nutrient that everyone should be getting plenty of. Especially if you want to keep your ears in good working order as you get older.

In one study published a few years ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of Dutch researchers recruited 728 older men and women with hearing trouble. For three years, half the group took 800 mcg folic acid daily.

At the study’s end, both groups had lost some hearing. However, the folic acid group had less loss in the low-frequency range (1.0 decibel vs. 1.7 decibels).

That’s right, the folic acid actually helped slow hearing loss.

Sounds like good–and simple–insurance for keeping your hearing in tip-top shape. Folic acid supplements are widely available. And it never hurts to get a little extra from food sources like spinach, asparagus, and avocado.

Effects of folic acid supplementation on hearing in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2007; 146(1): 1-9