Heart Health Protection by B Vitamins: Air Pollution Study

By Thomas A. Bowman, PhD

Folic acid, B6 and B12: Heart antioxidants

B vitamins are especially important in heart health and include folic acid, B6 and B12. These three B vitamins are important in the body’s defenses against cardiovascular oxidative stress.* Folic acid, B6 and B12 are important for the metabolism of homocysteine, a marker of cardiovascular inflammation.* Therefore, folic acid, B6 and B12 have been the subject of many clinical trials due to their cardiovascular benefits.*

The effect of air pollution on vitamin B levels

Just as cigarette smoking is bad for your heart, more and more research is showing that fine smoke or dust from air pollution also has adverse effects on heart health. Traffic-related particle exposure was shown to be associated with higher homocysteine and lower levels of folate and vitamin B12.1 Smokers also have decreased levels of folic acid and B12.2 Therefore, higher intake of folic acid, B6 and B12 are recommended in those exposed to air pollution and/or cigarette smoke.*

Emerging Study: B vitamins and heart protection against air pollution

A new study, published in Scientific Reports on April 3, 2017, shows that taking a supplement of B vitamins can help cardiovascular health by maintaining normal heart rate and white blood cell counts which can be increased by air pollution.3*

Zhong et al. used controlled air exposure experiments in chambers to examine the effects of particle pollution on health. When exposed to fine particle pollution in the chambers, healthy adult men and women experienced increased heart rate and heart rate variability. Additionally, total and differential white blood cell counts increased in the blood indicating a buildup of uncontrolled inflammation.3*

Then these subjects received supplementation for four weeks with B vitamins 2.5 mg/d folic acid, 50 mg/d vitamin B6, and 1 mg/d vitamin B12. After four weeks of supplementation and exposure to the air pollution in chambers their heart rates and heart rate variability were significantly lower compared to air pollution alone. Additionally, measured inflammatory white blood cells were significantly lower, including total white blood cell count by 139% and lymphocyte count by 106%.3*

B vitamins Recommendations

Methyl B-12 & Methyl Folate + P5P (B6) by Jarrow Formulas, provides all three of these B vitamins in a lozenge. This formulation provides B-12, Folic acid and B-6 in their most bioavailable forms.

For those who need more comprehensive B vitamins, such as athletes and those under heavy stress, B-Right is a carefully balanced, low-odor B-Complex capsule containing methyl folate, methylcobalamin, pantethine and pyridoxal 5-phosphate (P-5-P) also in their most active forms. B-Right capsules also contain both niacin and niacinamide forms of B3. Both of these Jarrow supplements are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.


  1. Park, Sung Kyun, et al. "Traffic-related particles are associated with elevated homocysteine: the VA normative aging study." American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine3 (2008): 283-289.
  2. Piyathilake, Chandrika J., et al. "Local and systemic effects of cigarette smoking on folate and vitamin B-12." The American journal of clinical nutrition4 (1994): 559-566.
  3. Zhong, Jia, et al. "B-vitamin Supplementation Mitigates Effects of Fine Particles on Cardiac Autonomic Dysfunction and Inflammation: A Pilot Human Intervention Trial." Scientific Reports 7 (2017).