Research Finds B Vitamins May Protect Against Air Pollution: Where to Eat Your Daily Intake

After a recent spate of crystal clear blue skies we'd almost forgotten about the smog but even though the AQI is creeping back up again there may be hope on the horizon in the form of a new study. The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that high doses of vitamin B supplements may offer some protection against the effects of air pollution, a BBC article reports.

The small-scale human trial was designed to find out whether consuming B vitamins could offset the effects of exposure to PM2.5 at the epigenetic level. Ten people were given high doses (2.5mg of folic acid, 50mg of vitamin B6, 1mg of vitamin B12)* of B vitamin supplements for a period of four weeks while being exposed to air containing high levels of PM2.5. The study found that the vitamins did offset the effects. 

The researchers acknowledge that this was just a pilot study to test a hypothesis and are quick to point out the limitations of the study – including the small number of participants, the lack of information about the size of the B vitamin dose that created the response, and the need to carry out similar studies in chronically polluted cities such as Beijing and New Delhi – but we'll take any reinforcements we can get in the fight against Beijing's air. 

To make sure you're getting your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of B vitamins, find out which foods are rich sources below and then see which popular Beijing restaurants have vitamin-packed dishes on their menus. 

Folate (the bioavailable, natural form of B9. The synthetic form of folate, folic acid, is used in dietary supplements and fortified foods): dark, leafy greens; broccoli; lentils and beans; avocado; sunflower seeds; flax seeds
B6: tuna; dark, leafy greens; carrots; turkey and chicken; cauliflower; bananas
B12: shellfish (particularly clams); oily fish (such as mackerel, salmon, and trout); beef; eggs

Note: Since B12 is only found naturally in animal products, it is recommended that people following a vegan diet eat foods fortified with B12, such as some plant milks, soy products or breakfast cereals, or take a B12 supplement. (Read this post by the Vegan Society for more information.)

Now go out and try these healthy, delicious, B vitamin-rich dishes!

Keto Salmon Salad
Obentos, RMB 78

Obentos' keto salmon salad packs a one-two punch of B12 and folic acid from the salmon (and salmon roe) and broccolini, respectively. As the name suggests, this salad is also good for those following a ketogenic diet. Obentos has plenty of dishes featuring healthy broccoli and leafy greens to suit both vegetarians and carnivores. 

Healthy Hippie
Juice by Melissa, RMB 75

They may as well have called this the "Vitamin B Salad" it's so packed with B vitamin-rich foods, particularly folate. Featuring kale, beets, sweet potato, lentil, quinoa, sprouts, avocado, sunflower seeds, and tahini vinaigrette, this is one healthy meal that won't leave you feeling hungry afterward. 

Paleo Rice
Moka Bros, RMB 48

The cauliflower rice base of Moka Bros' paleo rice bowl is a source of B6 and gets an extra B vitamin boost from kale and garlic. Add a serving of beef (RMB 18) for even more vitamins and protein. 

Common Burger at Hatchery, RMB 45

Obviously you could just make a B12-rich omelet at home but there's something really decadent about going out for breakfast. Our current breakfast stop of choice is Common Burger at Hatchery (all day from 8am) for their souped-up omelet, served with sautéed mushrooms and whipped feta with mint. Add a portion of avocado (RMB 10) for an extra vitamin hit or if you're dining after 11am, add on a side order of stir-fried brussel sprouts with chili, ginger, garlic, and sesame (RMB 40).

*The Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health (US) recommends that adults aged 19-50 years need 2.4 micrograms of B12, 1.3mg of vitamin B6, and 400mg of folate.

More stories by this author here.

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Photos: flickrflickr, max pixel


this is rediculous,,, or redonkulous!!!! nothing can protect against that,,, the particle damage is mechanical, not chemical...........................

mechanical? what do you mean by that?


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