What are the differences between plant-based antioxidants and molecular hydrogen?
Many people wonder what the differences are between molecular hydrogen and antioxidants found in foods. This is a somewhat difficult question to answer because you really can’t compare them directly to each other, as it is a little more complicated than that. You can’t eliminate molecular hydrogen and expect to get all the same benefits from the antioxidants in foods, nor can you simply ingest molecular hydrogen and obtain the benefits of the antioxidants present in foods.
Some of the antioxidants in foods are essential nutrients,1 like vitamin C.2 This antioxidant does more than just neutralize free radicals3, but also plays an important role in areas like collagen synthesis.4 We must not fall into the trap of thinking that consuming X amount of molecular hydrogen is equivalent to consuming X amount of antioxidant-rich foods.
What gets rid of more free radicals: Vitamin C or molecular hydrogen?
Based on stoichiometry, one molecule of vitamin C can theoretically neutralize two free radicals, which is the same for molecular hydrogen.5 Drinking one liter of hydrogen-rich water at a concentration of 1.4 ppm, would provide you about the same number of “antioxidant molecules” (hydrogen gas), as ingesting 100 mg of “antioxidant molecules” (vitamin C). However, some of the used vitamin C molecules can be rejuvenated by the body and can be used again6, which is not the case with molecular hydrogen. On the other hand, molecular hydrogen can upregulate powerful antioxidant enzymes in the body,7 thus providing further protection,8 which vitamin C cannot do. Interestingly, vitamin C intake at high levels may actually prevent this upregulation from occurring.9
How are plant based antioxidants found in foods similar to molecular hydrogen?
- They are both natural to the body.10
- They are both neither artificial nor synthetic.
- They are both potential keys to longevity.11
- They both promote health and wellness.
How is molecular hydrogen different from antioxidants in foods?
- Molecular hydrogen only scavenges the bad free radicals.12
- Molecular hydrogen leaves no waste product after neutralizing a free radical.
- Molecular hydrogen also increases our body’s own antioxidant systems.7
- Molecular hydrogen also acts as a signaling molecule, thus having many other benefits.13
- Molecular hydrogen is the smallest molecule, and can easily enter the cells.14 (Note: H2 only weighs 2 g/mole vs. vitamin C at 176.2 g/mol).5
- Molecular hydrogen has no known toxic effects, even at high intakes.15
- Molecular hydrogen is easily consumed with no additional calories.
With these similarities and differences in mind, we can see that molecular hydrogen doesn’t replace antioxidants contained in foods, but truly works in conjunction with them as well as offers additional benefits.
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3. Arrigoni, Oreste, and Mario C. De Tullio. “Ascorbic acid: much more than just an antioxidant.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects 1569, no. 1 (2002): 1-9.
4. Murad, S., D. Grove, K. A. Lindberg, G. Reynolds, A. Sivarajah, and S. R. Pinnell. “Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 78, no. 5 (1981): 2879-2882.
5. Harris, D. C. (2010). Quantitative chemical analysis. Macmillan.
6. Washko, P. W., Wang, Y. A. O. H. U. I., & Levine, M. (1993). Ascorbic acid recycling in human neutrophils. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 268(21), 15531-15535.
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8. XIE, K., YU, Y., HOU, L., CHEN, H., HAN, H., XIONG, L. & WANG, G. (2012). Nrf2 is critical in the protective role of hydrogen gas against murine polymicrobial sepsis. British Journal of Anaesthesia 108, 538-539.
9. Gomez-Cabrera, M. C., Domenech, E., & Viña, J. (2008). Moderate exercise is an antioxidant: upregulation of antioxidant genes by training. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 44(2), 126-131.
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11. ZHANG, J. Y., LIU, C., ZHOU, L., QU, K., WANG, R. T., TAI, M. H., LEI, J. C. W. L., WU, Q. F. & WANG, Z. X. (2012). A Review of Hydrogen as a New Medical Therapy. Hepato-Gastroenterology 59, 1026-1032.
12. OHSAWA, I., ISHIKAWA, M., TAKAHASHI, K., WATANABE, M., NISHIMAKI, K., YAMAGATA, K., KATSURA, K., KATAYAMA, Y., ASOH, S. & OHTA, S. (2007). Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals. Nat Med 13, 688-694.
13. DIXON, B. J., TANG, J. & ZHANG, J. H. (2013). The evolution of molecular hydrogen: a noteworthy potential therapy with clinical significance. Med Gas Res 3, 10.
14. OHTA, S. (2011). Recent progress toward hydrogen medicine: potential of molecular hydrogen for preventive and therapeutic applications. Curr Pharm Des 17, 2241-52.
15. OHNO, K., ITO, M. & ICHIHARA, M. (2012). Molecular hydrogen as an emerging therapeutic medical gas for neurodegenerative and other diseases. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2012, 353152.