Oxygenated Water Doesn't Improve Athletic Performance
Drinking bottled water described as “oxygenated” before exercising does not enhance athletic performance, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2003;290:2408–9). Although most of the brands of water tested contained more oxygen than tap water, the higher oxygen content appears to provide no health benefits.
In the new study, five brands of water marketed for their high oxygen content were tested for the amount of oxygen per 100 ml of water and compared with the amount of oxygen found in tap water. Water was extracted from each bottle by inserting an airtight syringe into the side or cap of each bottle and pulling out the fluid. Of the five brands tested, the one with the highest oxygen content was used in the exercise phase of the study. Eleven healthy adults (with an average age of 35 years) exercised on a stationary bicycle on two different days, at least three days apart. Five minutes before performing each exercise test, participants were asked to drink 12 ounces of either high-oxygen water or ordinary water. Specific tests that measure athletic performance were recorded for the duration of the exercise session, including heart rate and the amount of oxygen consumed by the body during exercise.
Four of the five brands of oxygenated water contained more oxygen than tap water, while the amount of oxygen in one brand was equivalent to that of tap water. The highest amount of oxygen among the brands tested was 80 ml of oxygen per 12 ounces of water. However, a normal human breath contains more than 100 ml of oxygen; therefore, the body gets more oxygen from a single breath than from an entire bottle of oxygenated water. During the exercise phase, no difference in any marker of athletic performance was found between drinking oxygenated water and drinking ordinary water.
These results cast serious doubt on whether any health benefits could be expected by consuming water that contains more oxygen than that which is normally present. Oxygen does not dissolve easily in water, which means much of the oxygen is lost by merely opening the bottle. Also, the intestinal tract is not designed to absorb oxygen; this process occurs in the lungs, so drinking water would not significantly contribute to raising oxygen levels in the blood. In healthy adults, red blood cells are almost completely saturated with oxygen, so even if the body absorbed a small amount from these waters, it is highly unlikely that such a minute amount of oxygen would produce any significant health benefits. However, dehydration is known to decrease athletic performance, so drinking pure water while exercising is all that is necessary to help prevent dehydration.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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