Homocysteine is an amino acid that’s been in the news a lot over the past year. And the press is not good. High levels of homocysteine have been named as a risk factor in the development of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis — to name just a few conditions.
Well — now researchers have discovered another link between high levels of homocysteine and compromised health. It seems that the amino acid can be harmful for your hearing. Researchers at the Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, Australia, have discovered that increased levels of homocysteine can more than double your risk for hearing loss.
There are many reasons why homocysteine levels might become high in your body. Medical scientists have recently learned that there’s a jump in the amino acid’s levels when there’s a decline in folic acid (folate) levels. Low folic acid levels are a problem for many people, because they don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, and grains. All of these healing foods are rich in folate.
For the study, the Aussie researchers looked at homocysteine levels, B12 and folate to see if there were any links between the three when it came to hearing loss. They used data from The Blue Mountain Hearing Study, which was a survey of 2,956 participants. They found that elevated levels of homocysteine increased the likelihood of prevalent hearing loss by 64%. Low serum folate levels also increased the odds for hearing loss. The researchers found no significant association between levels of B12 and hearing loss risk.
However, B12 does play an important role in controlling homocysteine levels in your body. Both folate and B12 convert homocysteine to “methionine,” an amino acid that plays a vital role in protein synthesis. When this conversion doesn’t occur, high homocysteine levels are the result.
Is there a way you can lower high homocysteine levels? Yes — by paying a little more attention to your nutritional health! Eating more fruits and vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables) can help lower levels. You can increase the folate you get in your diet by adding fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, asparagus, spinach, and most beans. You might want to consider taking a folate supplement and/or a vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 supplement. And, the last bit of health advice to protect your hearing: boost your B12 levels by adding dairy products, organ meats (such as liver), beef, and fish to your menu.