B-vitamins help in processing the energy that we get from the breakdown of food.
But surprisingly, taking B-vitamins supplements may offer protection from the deadly effects of air pollution on health as well. It plays a critical role in reducing the impact of air pollution on our genes.
Studies by WHO estimate that over 90 percent of the world population lives in places where air quality levels are below the standard set by them. It found high levels of PM2.5 which are very fine particulate matters and are the most prominent air pollutants.
They get lodged deep within the lungs and causes lung and heart diseases.
Air pollution causes damage on a genetic level and, thus, the effect on health over a lifetime can be devastating for the afflicted.
But there is hope. A new study has found that taking supplements of B-vitamins may offer protection against the impact of air pollution. Researchers at Columbia University found that B-vitamins, such as folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 play a critical role in reducing genetic damage caused by the impact of air pollution on the epigenome – compounds that tell the genes what to do. Disruption in epigenome can lead to neurological diseases and cancer. Air pollution causes harm by altering vital genes in the immune system, thereby weakening it.
A small team of 10 participated in the study. They were aged between 18-60. The participants were required to be healthy non-smokers who were not taking any medicines or vitamins. The volunteers were initially given a placebo and exposed to a healthy environment to check their baseline responses. They were then exposed to heavy pollution, air which contained high levels of PM2.5. Simultaneously, the volunteers were given a regular supplement of 1 mg of vitamin B12, 2.5 mg of folic acid and 50mg of vitamin B6.
Scientists found that taking the B vitamin supplement reduced the damage to the immune system at roughly 10 vital locations of the genes in a range of 28 to 76 percent. The damage caused to the mitochondrial valve by PM2.5 was also reduced. The damage caused to both the epigenome and the mitochondrial DNA was reversed significantly. This also raised the prospect of extending this study to other toxicants and environmental diseases.
Other Benefits Of B-Vitamins
Other benefits of taking a daily dose of B-vitamins are an increase in energy, a boost in growth, reduction in the risk of stroke and prevention of anemia. Folic Acid is important for the growth of a baby present inside a pregnant mother.
Lowering the impact of air pollution can be our first step towards good health. We should stay indoors if the pollution forecast predicts a rise in air pollution on any specific day.
Exercising indoors is always a great option when the outdoors is heavily polluted. Do not exercise in areas where there is a lot of pollution. Rather choose a park. Quit smoking. However, if you are in the process of trying to do so, don’t smoke indoors.
We can do a lot to reduce pollution in the first place. We need to rely more on modes of transportation that are non-polluting like the reliable bicycle. Trash should not be burned as they send fine pollutants into the air. Using hand-powered land mowers should be encouraged.
Just stocking up on medicines or wearing a mask will not save us. While the prevention of diseases caused by air pollution can only be prevented by strict emission control and regulation, the sad reality is that we remain either disinterested or helpless in tackling the problem.