Is hydrogen water better for you than plain water?

Hydrogen water is simply regular water with more hydrogen added. It has become a popular health product that is often sold in fancy packaging, not just old plastic bottles. You can even find hydrogen tablets to drop into regular water or water pitchers that add more hydrogen at the push of a button. Descriptors such as hydrogen-rich or hydrogen-infused are often used to indicate that the product is hydrogen water.

Regular water already has hydrogen in it (hence its chemical formula: H2O), but the idea behind hydrogenated water is that the added hydrogen is more accessible to our cells and acts as an antioxidant .

You can find claims that hydrogen water helps with everything from weight loss to energy to inflammation and more, but most of these claims aren’t rooted in science. Read on to learn more about the evidence-based benefits and risks of hydrogen water.

Muscle fatigue is a common limitation when it comes to exercise performance. This fatigue is caused in part by an increase in reactive oxygen species (unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells). Hydrogen water can improve athletic performance thanks to its antioxidant effects, which can help counteract these reactive oxygen species.

One study found that drinking hydrogen water before exercise improved endurance and reduced fatigue. Another found that drinking hydrogen water for seven days improved cycling performance in trained cyclists, but not in untrained ones. Finally, a third study found that drinking hydrogen water for two weeks resulted in better sprint cycling performance than a placebo. However, this study had only eight participants.

There is potential in these results, but other studies have produced different results. For example, a 2020 study found no significant improvement in running performance from drinking hydrogen water.

Since hydrogen can act as an antioxidant, hydrogen water can help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and allergies, so finding ways to reduce inflammation can help prevent and manage these conditions.

A 2020 study found that over four weeks, participants who drank 1.5 liters of hydrogen water per day had greater antioxidant capacity and reduced inflammatory responses compared to those who drank the same amount of water normal

Another study found that drinking hydrogen water for 24 weeks improved markers of inflammation in participants with metabolic syndrome compared to a placebo. That said, studies on this are limited, so more studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Metabolic syndrome occurs when at least three of the following symptoms are present:

  • Arterial hypertension
  • High blood sugars
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL cholesterol, the good kind of cholesterol
  • A waist circumference greater than 40 inches (men) or 35 inches (women)

It is worrying because it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It turns out that hydrogen water can improve metabolic health and markers of metabolic syndrome.

A 2020 study found that markers of metabolic health such as glucose metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, and inflammation improved after 24 weeks of high-concentration hydrogen water supplementation. The authors concluded that it could be a useful adjunctive therapy, so it should not replace conventional treatment approaches. Ultimately, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Just like regular water, hydrogen water has no calories, protein, fat or carbohydrates.

It may have traces of vitamins or minerals depending on the manufacturer or the water you add the hydrogen to. Some vitamins and minerals you can find in hydrogen water include:

The most obvious nutritional benefit of hydrogen water is that it is a source of hydration for the body. It can contribute to your full hydration without annoying added sugars.

The Dietary Reference Intakes recommends that adult men consume 3.7 liters of total water from food and drink, with an estimated 3 liters from beverages. For adult women, the recommendation is 2.7 liters of total water, with about 2.2 liters of beverages. That said, these are just general estimates. How much water you need depends on factors such as your activity level, local climate and breastfeeding status.

Studies have found no real harm associated with drinking hydrogen water. The biggest potential problem is that hydrogen water is quite expensive compared to regular water. A dozen bottles cost more than $50, and a pitcher of water that adds hydrogen costs $150 or more (some go as high as $1,000). For people with limited disposable income, this could cause financial stress without strong enough research to justify the cost.

Hydrogen water can be enjoyed just like regular water, but when it comes to storage, there are a few different considerations.

  • Since hydrogen is a small molecule, it is best to store hydrogen water in an aluminum or glass container rather than plastic so that the hydrogen does not leak out.
  • You can usually keep bottles or bags of hydrogen water tightly sealed for years.
  • Once opened, manufacturers recommend drinking hydrogen water within a few hours to reap the benefits of hydrogen.

Hydrogen water has gained popularity for a variety of purported health benefits, many of which are not supported by research. However, some studies suggest that hydrogen water can help with inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and athletic performance.

If you are interested in trying it, the chance of experiencing unpleasant side effects is low. Just know that it is quite expensive and more research is needed to confirm its potential health benefits.

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