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How fish oil can protect you against air pollution

The world health organisation WHO estimates that 2 million people die each year as a result of air pollution - mainly through the damage it does to heart and blood vessels. If you live in an area where there is a lot of traffic and industry, and you want to protect your health against the harmful effects of air pollution, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement. According to a human study published by researchers at the American Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, a daily dose of 3 g fish oil pretty much cancels out the negative cardiovascular effects of air pollution.


The researchers divided 29 subjects, all healthy and aged between 50 and 72, into two groups. Over a period of four weeks, one group took 3 capsules containing 1 g fish oil [FO] each day and the other group took three capsules containing olive oil [OO].

At the end of the four weeks, for two hours long the participants had to breathe dirty air full of fine particulate matter that the researchers had extracted from the air. Immediately afterwards [Post] and the following day [Follow Up] the researchers studied the effects of this exposure.

How fish oil can protect you against air pollution
Exposure to dirty air boosted the concentration of 'very bad cholesterol' VLDL in the participants. The same happened with their triglycerides. That's not so strange because VLDL and triglycerides are almost the same. Taking a fish-oil supplement negated both effects.

Dirty air reduced the amount of neutrophils. Neutrophils are the most common immune cells in the blood. Taking a fish-oil supplement negated that effect too.

How fish oil can protect you against air pollution

The researchers discovered that dirty air also had a negative effect on the heart rate variability. And you guessed it: taking a fish-oil supplement negated that effect too.

How fish oil can protect you against air pollution

"Our findings suggest that n-3 fatty acids supplements may offer protection against the adverse cardiac and lipid effects associated with air pollution exposure," the Americans concluded.

Environmental Health Perspectives volume 120 | number 7 | July 2012 | pp 952-7.

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Fish Oil

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Fish oil from algae protects cardiovascular system too
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