It is estimated that ambient fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths annually worldwide, mainly through its effects on the cardiovascular system.
The first clinical trial evaluating the ability of B vitamin supplements to change the biologic and physiologic responses to pollution, has determined that supplementation can diminish the acute effects of PM2.5 on cardiac autonomic dysfunction and inflammatory markers.
As part of the small study, researchers recruited 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers, aged between 18 and 60 years old. Participants received a placebo for four weeks preceding a two-hour exposure experiment to concentrated ambient PM2.5 (250 μ g/m3), after which they received B vitamin supplements for four weeks before the next two-hour exposure.
The researchers found B vitamin supplementation attenuated PM2.5 effects on heart rate by 150 per cent. Total white blood count was reduced by 139 per cent and lymphocyte count was reduced by 106 per cent.
As the study was undertaken among healthy adults from lightly polluted urban environment, the authors cautioned that their findings might not be generalisable to populations that are at higher risk for pollution-induced cardiovascular effects and individuals residing in heavily polluted areas.
The findings are published in Scientific Reports .