The vitamin that undoes the heart damage air pollution does

A lot of people think that air pollution is a lung problem. And they’re right… air pollution is terrible for your lungs.

But it’s even worse for your heart…

Exposure to air pollution increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias and heart failure. These risks are especially high when you’re exposed to seriously polluted air… or when you’re already at risk for heart problems due to age or poor health.

But here’s the scary thing…

Even if you’re young, healthy and not living somewhere with awful air quality, air pollution could be making potentially devastating changes to your heart.

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What air pollution does to healthy hearts

A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that living near low levels of air pollution for a handful of years makes serious structural changes to your heart… even if you’re relatively young and healthy.

Here’s what happened to healthy 40 to 69-year olds living in an area with a low level of pollution in this study…

Their heart chambers became enlarged.

If you think having enlarged heart chambers sounds alarming, you’re right. Heart chambers typically become enlarged when someone is on the path to heart failure, so this change is something to take seriously.

“Even at that low exposure level, you can start seeing these early, preclinical changes that may lead to worse outcomes in the long run if left untreated or uncontrolled,” said Dr. Nay Aung, a cardiologist and the lead author of the study.

Researchers admit they don’t know what these changes will mean for people five to 10 years in the future. But do you really want to wait and find out?

Why not take action now to counteract the negative impact air pollution has on your heart?

Protecting your heart from air pollution

Since it’s impossible to avoid air pollution nowadays, you’ll want to find proactive ways to fend off the dangerous impact it has on your heart.

Researchers suspect that pollution in the air harms your heart by causing oxidative stress and inflammation. That means anything that fights those two disease-causing forces will also protect you from the negative effects of this pollution.

In fact, a study published earlier this year found that eating an antioxidant-rich diet like the Mediterranean diet can protect you from some of the heart dangers of air pollution. In the study, people exposed to dangerous air pollutants who ate a Mediterranean diet were able to lower their risk of death from all causes by 3 percent, their cardiovascular disease risk by 12 percent and their risk of dying from a heart attack by 15 percent.

You know what else might help? B vitamins.

A study published last year found that people who took B vitamin supplements reversed the negative effect air pollution had on their heart and immune system. They took 2.5 mg of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of vitamin B12 per day. But you can also get B vitamins from foods like:

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Salmon
  • Potato
  • Turkey
  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Clams
  • Mackerel
  • Crab
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Milk
  • Turkey
  • Egg
  • Chicken

You can also reduce your exposure to air pollution. Don’t spend time outdoors on days when pollution levels are high. Don’t exercise near highways and busy streets. Avoid sitting in heavy traffic whenever possible. Hopefully, these simple strategies combined will keep air pollution from breaking your heart.

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  1. Air Pollution and Heart Disease, Stroke — American Heart Association.
  2. Air pollution exposure linked to enlarged hearts —MedicalXpress.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and