Hydrogen Water: Surprising Science On Brain, Metabolic, Anti-Cancer, and Anti-Aging Effects

Hydrogen water has been getting significant attention in the scientific and medical communities for its potential health benefits. This innovative form of water, enriched with molecular hydrogen (H2), is recognized for its antioxidant properties and its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. In this article, we delve into the science behind hydrogen water, examining its mechanisms of action and the promising implications for health and disease prevention.

What Is Hydrogen Water?

Hydrogen water is water that has been infused with molecular hydrogen (H2) gas. This concept originated in Japan in the early 2000s when researchers began exploring the potential of hydrogen as a therapeutic antioxidant. The development of hydrogen water technology followed, allowing for the infusion of hydrogen gas into water,

In the body, molecular hydrogen acts as an antioxidant. Hydrogen molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. Hydrogen is a small, neutrally charged molecule, allowing it to easily penetrate cell membranes and reach intracellular compartments, including mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles within cells.

One of the primary mechanisms by which hydrogen water works in the body is through selective scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are highly reactive molecules that can cause oxidative stress and damage cellular components, including DNA, proteins, and lipids. Molecular hydrogen selectively reduces the levels of harmful ROS, thereby protecting cells and tissues from oxidative damage.

Additionally, molecular hydrogen influences various signaling pathways within cells. It modulates gene expression, affecting the activity of genes involved in inflammation, metabolism, and cell survival. This regulatory role contributes to hydrogen’s potential therapeutic effects and is an area of active research.

Hydrogen water can be produced using several methods, including dissolving hydrogen gas into water under high pressure, using electrolysis to generate hydrogen in water, or employing hydrogen-generating tablets or sticks that release hydrogen when placed in water. These methods ensure that the water is infused with a stable concentration of molecular hydrogen, ready for consumption.

What are the Benefits of Hydrogen Water?

Hydrogen water is promoted for its potential health benefits, primarily due to the antioxidant properties of molecular hydrogen. Here is a comprehensive list of conditions where research has explored the potential benefits of hydrogen water:

  • Neuroprotective Benefits: Some research indicates that hydrogen water might protect against neurological damage by reducing oxidative stress, which is beneficial in conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. [PMC5412697]
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Hydrogen water has been studied for its effects on metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It may improve lipid and glucose metabolism, thus reducing the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. [PMC7102907]
  • Muscle Fatigue and Weakness: Athletes and those engaged in regular physical activity might benefit from hydrogen water, as it has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue and weakness by decreasing lactic acid buildup and increasing antioxidant activity. [PMC10757640] Read more below.
  • Diabetes: Some studies suggest that hydrogen water can improve blood sugar control, which is beneficial for managing diabetes. [PMID: 19083400] In mice, H(2)-water controlled fat and body weights and decreased glucose, insulin, and triglyceride at levels similar to diet restriction. [PMC7102907]
  • Cancer: Research into hydrogen water’s effects on cancer is preliminary, but it is hypothesized that its antioxidant properties might contribute to reducing the side effects of cancer treatments [PMC9178154] and possibly exert some preventative effects. [PMC10152878]
    • Radiation Therapy Side Effects: Hydrogen water has been researched for its potential to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy. A study found that drinking hydrogen-rich water for six weeks significantly improved quality of life and reduced oxidative stress in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, without affecting the tumor response to the treatment. [PMC3231938]
  • Cardiovascular Health: By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, hydrogen water may benefit cardiovascular health, potentially lowering the risk of heart disease. [PMC10239052]
  • Aging: Due to its antioxidant properties, hydrogen water is also being studied for its potential anti-aging effects, helping to combat the oxidative stress associated with aging. In a six-month randomized controlled pilot trial, hydrogen-rich water intake improved telomere length, DNA methylation, and increased levels of brain metabolites such as choline and creatine in older adults. [PMID: 34601077]
  • Liver Health: Preliminary studies suggest hydrogen water may help improve liver function and reduce the oxidative stress in individuals suffering from certain liver diseases. A clinical trial with NAFLD patients showed that hydrogen-rich water improved CoQ10 levels, mitochondrial energy production, and reduced oxidative stress. [PMC10419858]
  • Psoriasis: A study of patients with psoriasis who bathed in hydrogen water found significant benefits. [PMC5966409]
  • Oxidative Stress Reduction: Hydrogen is a selective antioxidant. It can help neutralize hydroxyl radicals (the most reactive and harmful free radicals) and reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to various chronic diseases.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Studies suggest that hydrogen water may have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune conditions.

The Use of Hydrogen Water In Sports

Researchers have found both positive and negative aspects of using hydrogen water in sports applications. [PMC6988658]

Hydrogen water has shown promising benefits in exercise recovery and the reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). As an antioxidant, molecular hydrogen in hydrogen water helps neutralize harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during intense physical activity, which can lead to oxidative stress and muscle damage. By reducing oxidative stress, hydrogen water aids in minimizing inflammation and muscle fatigue, thereby enhancing overall recovery. Additionally, studies suggest that hydrogen water can improve muscle function and reduce the severity of DOMS, allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts to recover faster and maintain a consistent training regimen. These benefits make hydrogen water an attractive option for those looking to optimize their recovery and performance in physical activities.

However, it’s important to note that taking too many external antioxidants for a long time can interfere with important bodily processes. This includes the body’s ability to respond to exercise by building more mitochondria (energy-producing structures in cells), increasing heart and muscle size, and improving how the body uses insulin. Studies show that while high levels of harmful molecules (reactive species) can be bad, low to moderate levels of these molecules are actually good for the body and excessive intake of antioxidants may prevent some of the muscle building benefits of exercise. This concept, where small amounts of stress from exercise lead to beneficial adaptations, is called exercise hormesis.

More Hydrogen Research

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Order Hydrogen Water Products

Molecular H2 Effervescent Hydrogen

Specialized magnesium formulated to create hydrogen when added to non-carbonated water. Water infused with hydrogen provides powerful support for antioxidant activity and redox balance.*
As a dietary supplement, drop 1 tablet in 12-16 oz. of filtered water, wait for it to break down, gently stirring if desired, then drink immediately. Take one or two times daily, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.

Serving Size: 1 Tablet

Amount Per Serving
Magnesium … 80mg
(as Elemental Magnesium)

Other Ingredients: Proprietary Hydrogen Matrix (malic acid, dextrose, tartaric acid, adipic acid, sodium stearyl fumarate).
Consult with your healthcare practitioner before use if you are pregnant or nursing. Keep out of reach of children.

Hydrogen water bottle

Hydrogen Water Bottle

Hydrogen water bottles are designed to enrich water with molecular hydrogen, an antioxidant, using an electrolysis process. These bottles generate hydrogen by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gases, allowing the hydrogen to dissolve into the water while the oxygen is usually released into the air.

There also H2 test devices and reagents available verify the H2 concentration of your water available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

As researchers continue to uncover the details of hydrogen water, its potential to enhance our health and well-being becomes increasingly evident. With its powerful antioxidant properties and ability to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, hydrogen water presents a promising addition to our wellness routines. While research is still ongoing, the existing studies offer a compelling glimpse into the benefits that hydrogen water may provide. By integrating hydrogen water into your daily life, you can take a proactive step towards better health and vitality. Stay informed, stay curious, and explore the potential of hydrogen water as a simple yet impactful way to support your overall well-being.

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