The study conducted by researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, said compared to supplementation with only vitamin E or omega-3, combining the two together provided stronger protection against the cardiovascular injuries.
“The appropriate combination dosage of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acid was explored to find an optimised protective dose to protect the injury induced by PM2.5 (air particle pollution),” they wrote in Chemosphere.
“Supplementation with vitamin E and omega-3 fatty could protect the PM2.5-induced injury, and the combination of vitamin E and omega-3 might produce more effective effects than the separate nutrient did.”
Numerous previous studies have showed how air pollution affects both respiratory and cardiovascular systems. But the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and other chronic ailments can be reduced by the anti-inflammation and anti-oxidative properties of omega-3 fatty acids.
“Omega-3 fatty acids, the important nutrient in maintaining people's health, can decrease the inflammatory reaction by changing the contents of lipid membranes,” the study said.
“Several intervention studies on human have indicated that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants may lessen the damage induced by air pollution.”
Vitamin E, the researchers added, has been found to be effective in decreasing markers of lipid and protein damage, along with improving antioxidant defenses.
For the rat study, researchers prepared a control group (saline-fed), a PM2.5 group, vitamin E only, omega-3 fatty acids only, and three groups fed with combination of vitamin E and omega-3 in various dosage: low, medium and high.
The rats were supplemented with vitamin E and/or omega-3 fatty acids for 14 days before being exposed to air pollution particles three times.
Compared with the severe injury of rats in PM 2.5 exposure group, the rats in the pre-treated groups had less heart damage.
"Meanwhile, pre-treatment with vitamin E or omega-3 induced a significant alleviation of the inflammatory cytokines and the elevation of the anti-oxidative activity especially in the rats pretreated with combined vitamin E and omega-3. In addition, the combined protecting effects of vitamin E and omega-3 showed a dose-dependent manner," they wrote.
“The data suggested that both vitamin E and omega-3 supplementation were able to restrict the oxidative stress and inflammatory response caused by PM2.5,” the researchers said.
They claim the results can help guide how to protect injury from ambient pollutants through rational dietary intake of nutrients.
They concluded: "Supplementation with vitamin E and omega-3 could protect the PM 2.5-induced injury, and the combination of vitamin E and omega-3 FA might produce more effective effects than the separate nutrient did."