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DSM highlights role of nutritional solutions in reducing negative health impacts of air pollution

Kaiseraugst, CH, 14 Dec 2015 10:30 CET

DSM Nutritional Products highlights a new paper, published in the online open access journal ‘Nutrients’. The paper reviews prevailing literature and studies related to the potential for nutrition to modify the health impacts of air pollution and offers a framework for examining these interactions and potential nutritional solutions. The findings demonstrate that, in an air polluted environment, a healthy diet with adequate intake of essential micronutrients could play an important role in preventing the development of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular and pulmonary risks.
Cyclist wearing an anti-pollution cycling mask

The publication of the paper coincides with the discussion of various air pollution related health events at the 2015 UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris and the recent ‘red alert’ in Beijing1.

Air pollution, including fine particulate matter (i.e. with particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, otherwise known as PM2.5) and gases, constitutes an environmental risk to human health and well-being. Around 80% of the global population lives in environments which exceed the air quality guideline (AQG) established by World Health Organization (WHO)2,3.

Co-author Professor Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at Groningen University comments: “Air pollution is a significant global environmental issue, which should not be neglected. Exposure to major contaminants in the atmosphere, including PM2.5, has been associated with a number of serious health issues. Long term exposure may impact pulmonary function and increase the risk of cardiovascular events and other diseases, such as diabetes, via oxidative stress and inflammatory mechanisms.”

Co-author Fernando Holguin, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Assistant Director, Asthma Institute at the University of Pittsburgh states: “The objective of this scientific paper is to provide an overview of existing literature and human studies on the role nutritional solutions can play in reducing the risks of the negative health impact of air pollution and to generate awareness for this global issue.”

The paper concludes that a healthy diet is key to determining health throughout life and could reduce the negative impact of air pollution on the body. It demonstrates that several studies showed that nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D and omega-3 PUFA have protective effects against the damage induced by particulate matter. Increased intake of antioxidants, as well as other anti-inflammatory nutrients, may attenuate air-pollution induced oxidative stress and inflammation in asthma, cardiovascular health and chronic inflammatory diseases, thereby providing a useful solution to counteract the negative health impact.

Co-author, Associate Professor Lisa Wood, a leading expert on asthma and respiratory diseases at the University of Newcastle (UoN), Australia, says: “The findings of a number of human studies are encouraging and a good basis for further work to determine optimal combinations of nutrients to prevent or reduce the impact of PM on different aspects of health.” While co-author Szabolcs Péter, Senior Scientist at DSM adds: “The paper also shows that the potential health and economic benefits of establishing nutritional approaches (e.g. dietary supplementation) to air pollution management are high.”

For more information on how nutritional solutions can counter the health impact of air pollution, watch DSM’s webinar Vitamin E and the latest science II: air pollution.

Vitamins in Motion

Vitamins play an essential role for health, wellness and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle. They are key to solving our global nutritional challenges. DSM, a global leader in health and nutrition science, is leading an initiative - Vitamins in Motion - to highlight the important role of vitamins. The campaign advocates for increased access, through innovative solutions, to the essential vitamins all people need to be healthy and well-nourished. To learn more, visit

2) 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 Sep 1;49(17):10482-91.
3)Who air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2006.

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