Age related hearing loss and nutrition in older women
Porter, Kimberly Heather Smith
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A cross-sectional observational study of healthy women aged 60-80 years (n = 194) was conducted to describe the associations between age related hearing loss (ARHL) with respect to 1) calcium, vitamin D, and bone health, 2) vitamin D deficiency, and 3) iron status and iron intake. Age related hearing loss was defined as hearing loss with onset after the age of 50 years with no known etiology (pure tone average of 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz; normal < 20 dB HL, hearing impaired > 20 dB HL). Participants with ARHL (n = 84), compared to participants with normal hearing (n = 110), consumed less calcium. Although bone mineral density was similar for participants with or without age related hearing loss, and those with age related hearing loss compared to those without had biochemical indicators of high bone turnover. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was lower and milk intake was somewhat lower in women aged 70-80 with ARHL compared to those without ARHL. When vitamin D deficient participants (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D < 10 ng/ml, n = 3) with ARHL were compared to a similar nonvitamin D deficient group (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D > 10 ng/ml, n = 26-53), the degree of hearing loss was similar. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with avoidance of milk, non-use of nutritional supplements, frequent use of laxatives, and biochemical evidence of poor vitamin B12 and iron status. In addition, the vitamin D deficient women had lower dietary intakes of most micronutrients when compared to the control group. Participants in the iron study (n = 177-184) had very good iron status and low iron intake and serum ferritin were related to hearing loss only in those aged 60-69 years. These results provide limited support for a relationship of iron to hearing function in older women. Overall, the results of each study support a possible role of nutrition with ARHL and provide a basis for future studies to explore the interactions between nutrition and auditory function in older adults.