As water is H2O it may seem counter intuitive to speak of hydrogen (H2) enriched water. There is a movement, particularly in Japan, to drink more hydrogen enriched water for health benefits. But what is hydrogen enriched water and is it actually good for you?
Hydrogen enriched water simply has an extra amount of H2 dissolved inside of drinking water. Over the last decade, scientists found that H2 has antioxidant properties and therefore possibly carried health benefits. However, inhaling gaseous H2 safely is problematic as it can quickly become toxic and not to mention that it is flammable. Therefore, consuming H2 orally via a liquid was considered the next best option and hence we have H2 enriched drinking water.
Another way to enhance H2 in drinking water is to add reactive metals to water to produce H2. Magnesium (Mg) reacts with H2O to produce Mg(OH)2 + H2. Therefore, magnesium sticks have been added to drinking water to produce H2 enriched water.
Is H2 enriched water actually good for you? Edaphic Scientific certainly does not endorse drinking H2 enriched water to gain health benefits. But, generally, the jury is still out on whether there are any benefits to H2 enriched water.
Unisense hydrogen microsensors have been used to document the possible positive effect of H2 enriched drinking water as a biomedical treatment. In the study by Kamimura et al. (2011) they found that obese rats that received H2 water were less affected by oxidative stress in connection with obesity compared to rats that received normal water.
Using a needle type H2 microsensor, the H2 concentration was monitored in rat liver. The measurements showed that H2 was accumulated in liver of fed rats but not in fasted rats (Kamimura personal communication with Unisense).
A correlation between glycogen concentration and accumulated H2 was found using a Unisense needle type microsensor. It was therefore speculated that the higher concentration of glycogen found in the liver of obese rats were the most likely reason for the H2 accumulation.
The study also showed that a fatty liver from the rats drinking H2 rich water contained less oxidative stress marker proteins and looked healthier compared to the fat rats, that did not receive H2 enriched water. Hydrogen’s anti-oxidative effect on the liver is speculated to explain the difference.
This is not conclusive evidence that H2 enriched water carries health benefits. But it is interesting nonetheless.
Nakao, A. et al (2010), Effectiveness of Hydrogen Rich Water on Antioxidant Status of Subjects with Potential Metabolic Syndrome—An Open Label Pilot Study, J Clin Biochem Nutr., 46, 140–149.