In further evidence that essential micronutrients are highly effective in protecting human health, a new study from the United States has found that high-dose B vitamins may “completely offset” the damage caused by the most dangerous type of air pollution. Published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, the researchers showed that exposure to fine particulate matter of the type produced by burning fossil fuels in motor vehicles can be mitigated by a daily supplement of B vitamins. With such pollution being known to have significant adverse effects on human health, the finding has profound implications for public health policies worldwide.
The study followed 10 volunteers aged between 18 and 60 years old who were initially exposed to clean air and given placebo pills to check their basic responses. In the second phase of the trial they were given a further placebo for a period of four weeks, after which they were exposed to heavily polluted air from downtown Toronto. In the third phase, the volunteers were again exposed to the polluted air but this time were given a daily supplement containing 50 milligrams of vitamin B6, 2.5 milligrams of folic acid, and 1 milligram of vitamin B12.
Remarkably, the researchers found that the B vitamins reduced the genetic damage caused by exposure to fine particulate matter in the polluted air by between 28 and 76 percent. Moreover, a similar reduction in damage was noted in the DNA of the mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of the cells.
The World Health Organization estimates that 92 per cent of the world’s population currently live in places where air pollution exceeds safe limits. In 2012 around 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) are believed to have been associated with air pollution, nearly 90 percent of which were in low- and middle-income countries.
Ultimately, of course, while the finding that B vitamins are protective against air pollution is clearly a vitally important one, the fact remains that it isn’t a long-term solution. So long as the fossil fuel industry and its government stakeholders remain addicted to the use of outdated energies such as oil, gas and coal, human health will continue to be held to ransom and the lives of millions of innocent people will be brought to an end prematurely. It is therefore essential that mankind moves away from these polluting fuels and, on a planetary scale, replaces them with safe, renewable forms of energy generation.
This global changeover to non-polluting forms of energy will not happen overnight, however. Most likely, the process of eradicating fossil fuels will take decades. It is in this sense that the implications of the PNAS study are therefore most profound.
If you are the sort of person who believes that governments always act in the best interests of their citizens, you should be confident that this study’s discovery will soon be implemented into public health policies worldwide. Supplements of B vitamins will promptly be advised for everybody living in areas where air pollution occurs, and they will be provided free to anyone who can’t afford them. Unfortunately, however, past experience tells us that this is not what will happen.
For years now, governments around the world have been doing everything possible to undermine the scientific credibility of supplements and regulate their availability as tightly as possible. Acting as political stakeholders for the pharmaceutical industry, they know that if they fail to do this the trillion-dollar-a-year patented drug business will inevitably come to an end.
Today, however, with a safe and effective way of protecting against the most dangerous type of air pollution having been found, our governments are faced with a clear choice. Do they finally start to act in the health interests of their citizens, or do they continue to act in the financial interests of multinational pharma and energy companies and allow countless millions more deaths to occur that are already now preventable?
While only time will tell what happens, one thing is already for certain. Step by step, the scientific basis for a world in which health is available to all is becoming increasingly apparent. If enough of us stand up to be counted and share this information as widely as possible, we can immediately help to save millions of lives. There’s no time to lose, and the choice is ours.