Do you hear what I hear?

Eyes, feet, heart… there’s no shortage of body parts to put on your watch list when you wind up with diabetes. And now you can add your ears to that tally. Or more specifically, your hearing.

Japanese researchers recently reviewed the results of 13 different studies involving more than 20,000 subjects. They found that hearing loss is twice as common among diabetics.

And interestingly, the link was actually stronger among subjects younger than 60. Diabetics in this group were 2.5 times more likely to suffer hearing impairment–suggesting that it definitely wasn’t an age-related phenomenon.

Of course, being a so-called “observational” study, this doesn’t prove that diabetes causes deafness. But we already know how high blood sugar damages your blood vessels and nerves. So suffice it to say that it’s not a far stretch.

Obviously, this is bad news for a country with skyrocketing diabetes rates. But the good news is there are a number of natural ways to put the brakes on hearing loss. One of them is to fill up on folic acid–at least 800 mcg per day.

And luckily, meeting that quota couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a good multivitamin and plenty of leafy greens.

“Diabetes and Risk of Hearing Impairment in Adults: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2012; Nov 12 epub ahead of print