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Hydrogen Water: A Scientific Exploration of its Health Claims

hydrogen water

 As hydrogen water increases in popularity within the wellness community, it's touted for a spectrum of benefits, from boosting athletic performance to acting as an anti-aging agent. Yet, the critical question remains: Do these claims rest on a solid scientific foundation, or is hydrogen water merely riding the wave of health trends and “biohacking”?

Understanding Hydrogen Water

Hydrogen water is water infused with additional hydrogen molecules (H2). Water is mixed with extra hydrogen gas by putting it under strong pressure. This makes the water have more hydrogen than usual. The hydrogen gas molecules are extremely small, so it can mix into the water well and stay mixed in for quite some time. This process supposedly:

  • increases antioxidant properties of the water
  • offers a new approach to combating oxidative stress
  • promotes recovery
  • enhances mental health

Is there any truth behind it?

The Science Behind Hydrogen Water: A Deeper Dive

The intrigue surrounding hydrogen water is primarily due to its antioxidant capacity.

Think of antioxidants that are being highly promoted for their ability to decrease inflammation such as catechins (found in pumpkin and mangoes), beta-carotene (found in spinach, apricots, and carrots), anthocyanins (founds in grapes and berries), and many others.

Hydrogen, being a small and bioavailable molecule, can theoretically penetrate cellular membranes to reduce oxidative stress, a key factor in inflammation and aging.

Does it work?

Let’s break down available studies based on their specific claims.

Claim #1: Hydrogen Water Improved Blood Lipid Profiles

A recent meta-analysis[1] examined 7 research studies involving a total of 279 participants and concluded that drinking hydrogen water can significantly improve lipid profiles in clinical populations.

Before fully embracing this finding, it's important to analyze the research studies cited.

Two studies[2][3] focused on the effects of hydrogen water on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The outcomes of these studies indicated a minor and non-significant positive impact of hydrogen water on the disease. The term "small positive non-significance" is used by researchers to describe results that are not statistically significant, yet they wish to highlight a trend towards a positive outcome. It's argued by some that reporting non-significant results is unethical since they fail to conclusively demonstrate whether a treatment is effective.

What about the significant positive results following the ingestion of hydrogen water?

The study by Korovljev et al[4]. indicated that the consumption of hydrogen water led to a significant reduction in liver fat content—approximately 20% over a 28-day period. This outcome, achieved without any significant differences in weight or overall body composition between the groups, points to a specific effect of hydrogen water on liver fat.

However, several critical aspects of the study's design warrant further discussion and critique.

Firstly, the intervention required participants to consume 1 liter of either hydrogen water or normal water per day for 28 days. While the regimen of daily consumption is clear, the researchers did not monitor participants' diets. Without tracking the participants' diets, attributing changes in liver fat content solely to the consumption of hydrogen water is challenging. Dietary factors could potentially influence liver fat and overall health, complicating the isolation of hydrogen water's effects from other variables.

Additionally, the study's sample size was very small, with only 12 participants. Such a limited sample size greatly reduces the study's statistical power and its ability to generalize findings to a broader population. A larger and more diverse group of participants could yield more accurate and reliable assessments of hydrogen water's effects on liver fat content.

Despite promising claims, such as improved blood lipid profiles, the evidence remains mixed. Some studies suggest benefits in conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, though results are often not significant or based on small sample sizes, making definitive conclusions difficult. The need for more comprehensive and well-monitored research is evident to fully understand and validate the health benefits of hydrogen water.

Claim #2: Hydrogen Water Improves Athletic Performance and Recovery

When you exercise, your body produces more of something known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage your muscles and contribute to fatigue. Consequently, after engaging in physical activity for some time, you may begin to feel exhausted and in need of rest.

Drinking hydrogen water is proposed as a solution to mitigate fatigue effects and enhance endurance.

A recent study[5] conducted on cyclists revealed that consuming nano-bubble hydrogen-rich water for 7 days improved the anaerobic performance of trained cyclists, but not that of untrained individuals.

This finding is particularly noteworthy given that the study employed what is considered the "gold standard" in research methodology: a double-blind crossover design.

Nonetheless, the strength of using a double-blind crossover design, which helps minimize bias and account for individual response variability to hydrogen water, is tempered by the absence of a washout period (a break) between interventions. This omission could result in carryover effects from the hydrogen water, potentially confounding the results. The study's failure to include a washout period may thus affect how the effectiveness of hydrogen water is interpreted.

Additionally, the study did not control or monitor the participants' diets during the intervention period. Given that dietary factors significantly affect physical performance and recovery, the results may have been influenced by what the participants ate. Without dietary control or monitoring, it's challenging to attribute performance changes solely to hydrogen water consumption.

Although the study hypothesizes that hydrogen's antioxidant properties are the underlying mechanism for its observed effects, it does not directly measure oxidative stress markers or antioxidant capacity. Hence, the physiological basis for the reported performance improvements remains speculative.

Moreover, some studies have found no benefits from supplementing with hydrogen water. For instance, Botek et al[6], reported no effects of hydrogen water on fatigue, and Ooi et al[7]. found no improvements on treadmill running performance in endurance-trained athletes following hydrogen water ingestion.

While initial studies offer some support for its antioxidant and recovery-enhancing properties, the evidence remains inconclusive due to methodological limitations and inconsistent findings.

Claim #3: Hydrogen Water Improves Mental Health

Your brain functions on a daily basis. It never stops. The high metabolic rate of the brain results in the generation of huge amounts of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that lead to oxidative stress.

Think of oxidative stress like rusting, but happening inside your body. Just like metal rusts when it's exposed to too much oxygen and water, our cells can "rust" when they're exposed to too many "free radicals." Free radicals are tiny, unstable particles that are produced when our bodies process food, get exposed to sunlight, or encounter pollution and cigarette smoke.

Normally, our bodies can handle these free radicals with the help of "antioxidants," which are like the body's rust-proofing paint. Antioxidants can be made by our bodies or come from foods like fruits and vegetables. They help keep the free radicals in check, preventing them from causing damage.

But sometimes, if there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants, it's like having too much rust without enough paint to cover it up. This imbalance can damage our cells, leading to health problems over time, such as aging faster, heart disease, or diabetes. So, oxidative stress is essentially the wear and tear on our bodies from this ongoing battle between free radicals and antioxidants.

Since hydrogen water is considered to be an antioxidant, theoretically it can help decrease oxidative stress in the brain, this improving mental health.

On the recent studies reported[8] that supplementation with hydrogen water for 4 weeks can improve mood and anxiety. 26 volunteers participated in the study and filled out a number of psychological tests while consuming hydrogen water for 4 weeks straight.

Even though the results of the study seem interesting, there are some issues with it. The study's sample size is relatively small (n=26 after exclusions), which may affect the statistical power and the ability to detect changes.

Additionally, the study exclusively focuses on short-term effects (4 weeks of hydrogen water intake), leaving the long-term effects and sustainability of hydrogen water benefits unexplored.

Lastly, while the study found significant improvements in some mental health parameters with hydrogen water, the absence of significant changes in others (e.g., symptoms of depression, certain fatigue measures) suggests a need for further research to fully understand the scope and mechanisms of hydrogen water effects on health and well-being.

What about other areas of mental health, such as panic disorders?

There was a recent study[9] done on a sample of women with panic disorder. They were provided with either psychological treatment and 1.5 liters of hydrogenated water for 3 months or with psychological treatment and placebo.

The results showed… nothing. There was no difference between the groups in any of the measured variables.

Thus, evidence is mixed; while some studies show promising results for short-term improvements in mental health parameters, others, particularly in areas like panic disorder, fail to demonstrate significant benefits.


  • Hydrogen Water Basics: Infused with extra hydrogen molecules, it's claimed to enhance antioxidant properties, combat oxidative stress, and promote recovery and well-being.
  • Blood Lipid Profiles: Some studies suggest it might improve lipid profiles, particularly in clinical populations, but findings are mixed and sometimes not statistically significant.
  • Athletic Performance and Recovery: Evidence is inconclusive; some research indicates potential benefits in anaerobic performance for trained athletes, yet other studies show no significant improvements.
  • Mental Health: Preliminary findings hint at improved mood and anxiety with hydrogen water consumption over a short period, but the small sample size and lack of long-term data call for further research.

In summary, while hydrogen water shows promise in certain areas, more rigorous, large-scale studies are needed to conclusively determine its health benefits. As suggested in the recent meta-analysis on hydrogen water[10], we need more well-designed studies in humans with large sample sizes to understand if hydrogen water actually works.


1. Todorovic, N.; Fernández-Landa, J.; Santibañez, A.; Kura, B.; Stajer, V.; Korovljev, D.; Ostojic, S. M. The Effects of Hydrogen-Rich Water on Blood Lipid Profiles in Clinical Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pharmaceuticals, 2023, 16 (2), 142.

2. Younossi, Z. M.; Koenig, A. B.; Abdelatif, D.; Fazel, Y.; Henry, L.; Wymer, M. Global Epidemiology of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease—Meta-Analytic Assessment of Prevalence, Incidence, and Outcomes. Hepatology, 2016, 64 (1), 73–84.

3. Kura, B.; Szantova, M.; LeBaron, T. W.; Mojto, V.; Barancik, M.; Szeiffova Bacova, B.; Kalocayova, B.; Sykora, M.; Okruhlicova, L.; Tribulova, N.; et al. Biological Effects of Hydrogen Water on Subjects with NAFLD: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Antioxidants, 2022, 11 (10), 1935.

4. Korovljev, D.; Stajer, V.; Ostojic, J.; LeBaron, T. W.; Ostojic, S. M. Hydrogen-Rich Water Reduces Liver Fat Accumulation and Improves Liver Enzyme Profiles in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial. Clin. Res. Hepatol. Gastroenterol., 2019, 43 (6), 688–693.

5. Timón, R.; Olcina, G.; González-Custodio, A.; Camacho-Cardenosa, M.; Camacho-Cardenosa, A.; Martínez Guardado, I. Effects of 7-Day Intake of Hydrogen-Rich Water on Physical Performance of Trained and Untrained Subjects. Biol. Sport, 2021, 38 (2), 269–275.

6. Botek, M.; Khanna, D.; Krejčí, J.; Valenta, M.; McKune, A.; Sládečková, B.; Klimešová, I. Molecular Hydrogen Mitigates Performance Decrement during Repeated Sprints in Professional Soccer Players. Nutrients, 2022, 14 (3), 508.

7. Ooi, C. H.; Ng, S. K.; Omar, E. A. Acute Ingestion of Hydrogen-Rich Water Does Not Improve Incremental Treadmill Running Performance in Endurance-Trained Athletes. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab., 2020, 45 (5), 513–519.

8. Mizuno, K.; Sasaki, A. T.; Ebisu, K.; Tajima, K.; Kajimoto, O.; Nojima, J.; Kuratsune, H.; Hori, H.; Watanabe, Y. Hydrogen-Rich Water for Improvements of Mood, Anxiety, and Autonomic Nerve Function in Daily Life. Med. Gas Res., 2018, 7 (4), 247–255.

9. Fernández-Serrano, A. B.; Moya-Faz, F. J.; Giner Alegría, C. A.; Fernández Rodríguez, J. C.; Soriano Guilabert, J. F.; del Toro Mellado, M. Effects of Hydrogen Water and Psychological Treatment in a Sample of Women with Panic Disorder: A Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trial. Health Psychol. Res., 10 (2), 35468.

10. Dhillon, G.; Buddhavarapu, V.; Grewal, H.; Sharma, P.; Verma, R. K.; Munjal, R.; Devadoss, R.; Kashyap, R. Hydrogen Water: Extra Healthy or a Hoax?—A Systematic Review. Int. J. Mol. Sci., 2024, 25 (2), 973.

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