B Vitamins Would Likely Reduce The Impact Of Air Pollution, New Study Says

First Posted: Mar 16, 2017 04:28 AM EDT

A new study indicates that B vitamins could reduce the adverse epigenetic effects of air pollution. The researchers also discovered that high doses of B vitamins could offset the damage triggered by very fine particulate matter from the dirty air.

The study will be published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It was led by researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health with colleagues at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in China, Sweden, Mexico, Singapore and Canada. This is the first study to research on how to prevent or reduce the harmful effects of air pollution, according to Medical News Today.

The study could benefit the countries in the world that have frequent PM2.5 peaks, which is the very fine particulate matter with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers. These include China, India, Mexico and some countries in Europe.

PM2.5 fragments can embed in the human lung. This will cause lung and heart health issues to both young and old people. This very fine particulate matter is also suspected by researchers to be the cause of the epigenetic changes in human cells that damage health, according to BBC News.

In the study, the researchers exposed 10 volunteers to clean air and have been given a placebo or B-vitamin supplement. They were also tested later with high doses of B vitamins in the area with high levels of PM2.5.

After four weeks of B vitamin supplementation, there was a reduction of PM2.5 by between 28 percent to 76 percent at 10 gene locations. The team also discovered the same reduction in the impact on the mitochondrial DNA, which is the parts of cells that produce energy.

On the other hand, the researchers notify that the study has limitations. This is because of the small number of participants and little information on the size of the B vitamin dose that stimulated the reaction.

Professor Carrie Breton from the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the report, said that the fact that the study has a good finding in only 10 subjects is promising. On the other hand, there must be the further follow-up in bigger populations particularly taking into account the ethnic variability in this study. She thinks that it is great that taking a vitamin would protect against the effect of air pollution, yet the public health goal must be the one reducing the air pollution to a level that is not damaging or destructive. 

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