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Air pollution: the benefits of combining vitamin E and omega-3

Air pollution As we discussed in May of this year, peaks in air pollution are on the increase. In 2014, the World Health Organisation estimated that at least 90% of the global population was living in a polluted environment - an area where WHO air quality guidelines levels were not being met1. So what would scientists conclude today, in 2017? Much to the consternation of researchers who have been concentrating their efforts on reducing levels of air pollution, we’ve seen a clear increase in these levels over the past few years. It is in this worrying context that scientists have just made a promising discovery in relation to health protection. Below we explore their encouraging findings.

Combination of protective agents against particulate pollution

Air pollution exposes the body to particles, often described as particulates or micro-particles because of their miniscule size. However, despite their microscopic proportions, these particulates are known to damage our health and increase the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases1. In an effort to combat the harmful effects of these particulates, scientists evaluated the benefits of combined supplementation with vitamin E and omega 3². Extensively studied in recent years, these molecules are recognised for their preventive and therapeutic effects. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which combats damage caused by the reactive species free radicals, production of which can be induced by exposure to particulates. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known for their protective effects, particularly in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Protective effects from vitamin E and omega-3 supplements

Based on the known protective effects of vitamin E and omega-3, the researchers decided to measure the benefits of supplementation with these nutrients. They carried out a number of tests on four groups of rats:-
  • - group 1 served as a control group and received no supplement;
  • - group 2 was supplemented with vitamin E;
  • - group 3 received omega-3 fatty acids;
  • - group 4 was given both vitamin E and omega-3.
To measure the protective effects of these supplements, the four groups were exposed to an identical quantity of particulates. The researchers then evaluated various parameters including:
  • - inflammatory processes - by measuring expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6) in serum and heart tissue;
  • - free radical generation - by noting levels of a biological marker of oxidative stress called malondialdehyde (MDA);
  • - antioxidant activity - by analysing levels of two antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase;
  • - cardiac damage - by examining the condition of the rats’ hearts.
And the result? These various analyses revealed positive outcomes for supplementation against the harmful effects of these particulates. Compared with controls, the three supplemented groups exhibited less heart damage, increased antioxidant activity and less inflammation. These benefits were even greater in the rats that received both vitamin E and omega-3.

This study confirms the therapeutic benefits and protective effects of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. These natural molecules combat the damage caused by particulate pollution. Supplementation with vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids has demonstrated a number of protective effects, particularly against the free radicals generated by increased exposure to particulates. > Sources : 1. Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS), Qualité de l’air ambiant et santé, Aide-mémoire N°313, Septembre 2016. 2. Xihao Dua, et al., Combined effects of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids on protecting ambient PM2.5-induced cardiovascular injury in rats, Chemosphere, Volume 173, April 2017, Pages 14–21.
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