Most of us find green leafy vegetables tasteless and unpalatable. But they are storehouses of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Folic acid found in abundance in leafy greens, reduces levels of a toxic amino acid Homocysteine in our body and delays the onset of deafness associated with aging (presbyacusis).
Leafy Greens can ward off Deafness
Green leafy vegetables are loaded with Folic acid, a B group vitamin that reduces the risk of age related hearing loss.
What is Presbyacusis ?
Age related hearing loss or presbyacusis is a progressive disease with gradually increasing deafness of both ears beginning for high frequency sounds. Men are affected more than women with this condition that accompanies the normal aging process.
Most people notice a loss of speech discrimination that is especially pronounced in noisy surroundings. This condition traces its roots in our genes, but noise trauma from industrial machines, weapons and excessively loud music also contribute to it.
Around 25% of people between the ages of 65 and 75 years and almost 50% of those over 75 years experience hearing difficulty.
Brussel's Sprouts are high in folate content
Causes of Age Related Deafness
- Heredity - This problem runs in families.
- Hardening of arteries or Atherosclerosis - It diminishes the vascularity of cochlea, the hearing apparatus, and also reduces oxygen supply to the ear causing degeneration of the inner ear.
- Diet - Increased intake of saturated fats accelerates arterial hardening and leads to hearing loss.
- Smoking - This also accelerates hardening of blood vessels that supply the inner ear.
- High Blood Pressure - It leads to thickening of blood vessel walls that in turn reduces blood supply to the ear.
- Ototoxic medicines - Certain medications like aspirin cause damage to the hearing apparatus and hasten the onset of deafness.
Increased intake of Folates delays the onset of Presbyacusis
Low blood levels of vitamins of the B-complex group, notably folate or vitamin-B9, contribute to an increased risk of age related hearing loss.
Homocysteine, a non-protein alpha amino acid produced from methionine, is believed to be the culprit behind presbyacusis. Normally homocysteine is an intermediate in methionine metabolism and either gets recycled back to it or gets converted to another amino acid cysteine (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) with the aid of B- vitamins. Elevated homocysteine concentration in the blood that occurs with dietary deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin-B6 and vitamin-B12, may adversely affect blood flow to the cochlea (spiral acvity of inner ear) leading to age related deafness.
Folic acid lowers homocysteine levels in the blood, reduces inflammation and prevents or postpones presbyacusis.
Folic acid delays onset of age related deafness
Dietary sources of Folic Acid
Folic acid or vitamin-B9 is essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids (which constitute chromosomes). It is also needed for normal development of blood vessels and bone marrow and for certain metabolic reactions in our body.
Our body does not have the ability to synthesize folic acid so it has to be supplied in the diet.It occurs in two forms in nature - free and bound forms. The free form is rapidly absorbed from the upper part of small intestines.
The name folate comes from the Latin word folia (=leaf) as green leafy vegetables (especially spinach and cauliflower) are rich sources of folic acid. Avocado, liver, yeast, asparagus, and brussel's sprouts are also loaded with folate and other B-vitamins. It is also found in lima beans, fortified whole grain cereals, nuts, fruits, eggs, milk and dairy products.
Recommended Daily Intake of Folic acid in normal adults is 400 micro grams/day.
Overcooking destroys much of folic acid and contributes to its deficiency. Its dietary deficiency can lead to diarrhea, anemia with shortness of breath, nerve damage with weakness and numbness of limbs.
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Other Benefits of Folic Acid Supplementation
- Reduces risk of pregnancy related complications like placental abruption and pre ecclampsia that can occur due to raised homocysteine levels in the blood.
- Reduces risk of birth defects in children.
- Reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke.
- Decreases risk of colorectal cancers.