In preparation to write this newsletter, for your educational pleasure, I went to pubmed.com and simply typed into the search bar: B vitamins brain. In less than 5 seconds I had 458 different research studies to peruse.
B vitamins in the vast majority of the forms help our bodies think properly, regulate mood, fight off neural degeneration and assist in stress modulation among many other less heralded functions. Many of us that spend time reading and researching vitamin therapy probably already have heard that these common uses for B vitamins exist. One use for B12 in particular that you may not have heard about is for protection against “air pollution”.
A small-scale human trial1 found B vitamins may help protect against air pollution2,3.
At high doses, which I will give you later, B vitamins were able to completely “offset” damage delivered by fine particulate matter.
According to a World Health Organization study released in 2016, 92% of the world population breathes air that does not meet the cleanliness standard. In fact 1 in 4 deaths worldwide are reported to be from toxic environments (including poor air quality)4.
Poor air quality can cause serious damage to your lungs, heart and other organ systems (liver, kidneys, brain, etc.). One of the most dangerous air pollutants is very fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers. These are roughly about one-thirtieth the width of a human hair in diameter which makes them nearly invisible and in this case tough to protect ourselves against.
What did the Research Show?
The featured trial1, the first of its kind, involved just 10 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60. [When you read further, you will understand why the research scientists could only find 10 volunteers instead of 100 or 1000]. In the first round, they were exposed to clean air and given a placebo to establish a baseline. In the next round of tests, they inhaled concentrated smog for two hours. Blood samples were collected after each test to monitor and measure damage and response.
In the next stage of the experiment the participants received a daily supplement of 2.5 mg (milligrams) of B9/folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of B12 for four weeks before inhaling “hazardous levels” of PM2.5 pollution (PM2.5 concentrated to more than 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air). The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of just 400 mcg (micrograms) of folate/B9, 1.3 to 1.7 mg of B6 and 2.4 mcg of B125.
For example, in our preferred MethylB12Plus supplement the ingredient list for 1 lozenge is: folate 400 mcg and B12 (methylcobalamin) 1,000 mcg (same as the 1 mg of B12 used in the above research study).
This is not the first time that higher than RDA (recommended daily allowance) doses of B vitamins have been shown to have distinct health benefits.
Interestingly, four weeks of “high-dose” supplementation: reduced the genetic damage incurred in 10 gene locations by 28-76%, protected mitochondrial DNA from the harmful effects of PM2.5 and helped repair some of the genetic damage caused by pollution.
Dietary sources of B6 include: turkey, beef, chicken, wild caught salmon, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, pistachios, avocado, spinach, banana, papaya, oranges and cantaloupe. B9/Folic acid can be found in the following dietary sources: fresh, raw, organic leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach, and turnip greens. It is plentiful in a wide variety of beans, especially lentils, but also pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy and black beans. B12 in the diet can be acquired when we eat the following foods: almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, poultry and eggs. Nutritional yeast is also high in B12, and is highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans.
Next time you travel to a city where air quality is a known issue, it would certainly be in your best interest to pack some B12 and Folic acid supplements in your bag and use one with each of your meals. This will not only help to keep your energy levels up and your mood regulated properly but can also protect against the effects of air pollution. Remember that over 90% of the places we visit have air that doesn’t meet the cleanliness standards from the World Health Organization.
While this newsletter only provides a glimpse of what B12, folic acid and B6 can help the body do, much more information is available on our website and in your customized nutritional report. If you have not ever been through our testing protocols consider making it your goal for 2017!
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 13, 2017 [Epub before print]
- BBC News March 14, 2017
- CNN March 14, 2017
- World Health Organization, March 2016, An Estimated 12.6 Million Deaths Each Year Are Attributable to Unhealthy Environments
- Harvard.edu. Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12