hearing

  1. B vitamins can save your hearing

    Your ears aren't degrading and they're not full of wax -- if you don't hear as well as you used to, you might just need a boost.

    And I don't mean turning up the dial on your hearing aid.

    A new study finds that older people with poor hearing are missing out on two of the key vitamins I've been urging you to take anyway: B12 and folate.

    In a study of 126 seniors, the researchers tested hearing and took blood samples, and found that those with hearing loss had folate levels between 32 percent and 35 percent lower than patients with no hearing problems.

    They wrote in Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery that those with hearing loss were also more likely to suffer from low B12 levels.

    If this holds up, you might be able to prevent, halt or even reverse hearing loss with a couple of common vitamins.

    Notice I said "might" -- if you're a kid with an iPod plugged directly into your skull, no supplement in the world is going to save your hearing. But since you're already used to having something in your ear 24/7, at least the inevitable hearing aid will feel perfectly natural.

    For everyone else, don't stop at B12 and folate -- add B6 to the mix and you'll save your brain as well as your hearing.

    I've been recommending these three Bs for years, and now even Big Pharma agrees with me -- because they're gearing up to sell a patented blend of B vitamins as the next big brain-saving "wonder drug."

  2. Vitamin C for your eyes

    If you want to protect your eyes, forget carrots -- there's another "C" that plays a much more important role in how you see: Vitamin C.

    Two new studies show how C can keep your peepers performing at their peak -- including one that finds that certain retina cells literally shut down when they run out of C.

    The researchers wrote in the Journal of Neuroscience that their finding suggests a diet rich in vitamin C may protect against glaucoma -- but more importantly, they say the retinal cells used in the study are closely related to similar cells in the brain.

    And if low C can cause those cells in the eye to go dark, just imagine how it can dim your mind.

    But let's get back to your eyes here, because another new study -- this one out of India -- finds that people with the highest dietary intake of C have a 39 percent lower risk of cataracts than those with the lowest C levels.

    That study was based on a questionnaire over dietary habits, so I'm not going to waste your time with the details -- but it's worth mentioning because plenty of other studies have also made a much more direct link between low C and cataract risk.

    I remember one a few decades back that found every 1 mg/dl increase in blood levels of vitamin C led to a 26 percent decrease in cataract risk.

    Along with vision, vitamin C also appears to have a direct impact on hearing: When I say "vitamin C," most people just hear "orange juice" -- and that's the last place you should be looking for this nutrient.

    OJ is pure sugar with some vitamin C swimming around in it. You may as well put vitamin C in your Coke.

    The best natural sources of C are actually peppers -- bell and chili -- along with broccoli, kale and papaya. But to get what you really need, you'll probably want a supplement.

    I suggest at least 1,200 mg a day, or roughly 15 times what the U.S. government recommends.

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