A breath of fresh air: protecting against air pollution with nutritional solutions
Earth Day 2017 brings a range of issues into consideration, from endangered animals and food waste to the quality of the very air we breathe. Air pollution can cause a wide range of cardiovascular health issues, from hardened arteries and irregular heartbeats to increased risk of heart attack and blood clots. Research has shown that an increased intake of micronutrients, including EPA and DHA and vitamin C, can help to counteract the negative impact of air pollution.
‘Air pollution’ may bring to mind images of dark, billowing smoke from factories in industrial cities, but a tremendous 80% of the world’s population live in regions that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines.1
What is air pollution?
In 2012, WHO reported that approximately seven million people die annually as a result of air pollution, equating to one in eight global deaths.2 Air pollution is made up of a mixture of gases and particles, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter (PM), lead and sulfur dioxide. Inhaling polluted air, especially air containing fine PM of 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, can have a detrimental impact on the quality and length of human life. PM2.5 can lead to a wide range of health issues for the brain, heart, lungs, blood and vasculature. This includes increased risk of blood clots and non-fatal heart attacks, as well as narrowing blood flow to the brain and constricting blood vessels to create hypertension.
Vitamins: air pollution protectants?
Reducing air pollution is the most substantial method for disease prevention but, for the 80% of the population living in highly polluted areas, good nutrition can offer more immediate support. Several studies have highlighted how optimizing the intake of certain micronutrients, antioxidants and omega-3 EPA and DHA may reduce inflammation, and help reduce the risk of the associated diseases:
Vitamin C – acts together with vitamin E as an antioxidant system
Vitamin E – helps protect against free radical damage
Omega-3 EPA and DHA – contributes to the normal function of the heart
Nutritional supplementation is a simple and inexpensive method of minimizing some of the harm PM2.5 exposure can cause on different aspects of health.3-5
For more information, download our whitepaper Air pollution and cardiovascular health: new evidence on nutritional solutions or view our infographic.
1 Van Donkelaar A, Martin RV, Spurr RJ, Burnett RT. High resolution satellite-derived PM2.5 from optimal estimation and geographically weighted regression over North America. Environ Sci Technol, 2015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26261937
3 Péter et al, Nutritional solutions to reduce risks of negative health impacts of air pollution, Nutrients 2015.
4 Du et al, Combined effects of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids on protecting ambient PM2.5-induced cardiovascular injury in rats, Chemosphere 2017.
5 Zhong et al, B vitamins attenuate the epigenetic effects of ambient fine particles in a pilot human intervention trial, PNAS 2017.