Could molecular hydrogen infused water carve a niche in the functional beverages category?

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In regular water, hydrogen is bound to oxygen (H2O) making it "difficult for our bodies to enjoy the [antioxidant/anti-inflammatory] benefits of hydrogen," claims the company behind Hfactor, which contends that dissolving hydrogen gas into water via a patent-pending process enables Hfactor to deliver a variety of potential health benefits.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Winter Fancy Food Show, Gail Levy claimed that there was a growing body of literature suggesting that hydrogen therapy may help to counter chronic inflammation, reduce oxidative stress as a selective antioxidant and decrease muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup.

While Hfactor brand owner HiEdge Inc has not conducted human clinical trials on its own product, human and animal studies have used water infused with hydrogen gas as a delivery vehicle, and multiple peer-reviewed studies suggest that hydrogen gas has potential as a novel antioxidant and may dissolve quickly into tissues and cells, conferring a range of health benefits, claimed Levy.

She also noted growing interest in sports recovery applications for molecular hydrogen, a tiny molecule she claimed can rapidly diffuse through cell membranes to target free radicals.

It doesn’t cure anything but it may ameliorate some of the effects of different things that are the result of inflammation… There are more than 600 published studies on the efficacy of molecular hydrogen [albeit not all using a hydrogen-infused water as a delivery vehicle] on health and wellness…  

“It’s very big in the Japanese market, but we use a more natural process [to infuse the water with hydrogen] than companies there. A lot of companies [in Japan] also put it in plastic or glass and the hydrogen naturally outgases from those systems, but we’ve developed an aluminum package, which acts as an effective barrier to keep the hydrogen inside until you are ready to drink it.”

Molecular hydrogen consists of two hydrogen atoms that are chemically bonded together (H2) to form a tasteless, odorless, gas.

'There is huge potential for these technologies and in the molecule itself'

So does this product have potential, and is the science behind ‘hydrogen-rich’ water sound?

Tim Avila, president of California-based consultancy Systems Bioscience Inc, told FoodNavigator-USA that there is “a set of human trials out there in the existing literature using various approaches at generating and stabilizing molecular hydrogen,” although he couldn’t say whether commercial products such as Hfactor and H2Bev would “deliver biological results.”

While both startups would be well-advised to “validate the product in humans as soon as possible,” he said, “There is huge potential for these technologies and in the molecule itself.

“I think it will take a bit more development to see this take off here in the US. Other countries and markets seem to be more open to it like Japan but I have not cataloged the market for beverages or other applications of molecular hydrogen. My sense is that it’s still in the embryo stage.” 

Read more about Hfactor.

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