I remember the first time a friend and I came across "oxygenated" water "Wow!" he exclaimed. "You mean I've been drinking plain old hydrogen all this time?"
Sheesh, I thought to myself, this can't be good.
Then the stuff started popping up all over the place now claiming "10 times" more oxygen than normal water.
Lately, I've also come across oxygen supplements with names like Aerobic Oxygen and Cell Food. Testimonials on these companies' websites say the products are cure-alls, good for everything from sports performance enhancement to immune boosting to antibiotics-replacement to cancer treatment. Now, my readers are obviously too smart to swallow that salt-free, but is there anything to it at all?
No one will tell us exactly how this product is made, and there's no vetting system in place that forces companies to prove that what they say is in those little bottles really is.
What the experts say
"I don't know what's in [those bottles], because the companies are not very scientifically forthcoming. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to one company regarding the claims it's made. I don't know why you would want more oxygen. Oxygen actually gets returned to the lungs by the bloodstream because not all of it gets consumed by the cells. It's not obvious what you would do with excess oxygen. It isn't all that good for you. It's extremely reactive and causes damage to cells, molecules and tissues. That's why we take vitamin C and other antioxidants."
DR. ROBERT MacGREGOR , associate dean, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto
"In Aerobic Oxygen we have a process to stabilize many oxygen molecules to a sodium chloride [table salt] molecule, and it will remain stable in that liquid form. How that is done is proprietary. People have reported the benefits. Aerobic Oxygen is not a drug. In order to state that our product cures or is helpful, we would have to have it classified as a drug, and we don't want that. Too much oxygen would be a concern only if you were taking it in through the lungs. Aerobic Oxygen is in a stable form and does not produce free radical activity. In fact, it acts as a very efficient antioxidant. It will also attach itself to and destroy toxins that should not be in the body. Oxygen will destroy any type of anaerobic infectious bacteria."
RANDY WIDMER , naturopath, Good For You, makers of Aerobic Oxygen, Concordia, Missouri
"The claims [regarding free radicals] are very interesting. You really can't believe anything purported to be a new scientific process until it has gone through the rigour of scientific peer review. If there really were a method of stabilizing and binding free radicals with sodium chloride and water, that would be a major discovery. Just because it hasn't been proven, however, doesn't mean it's not valid. Nobody can say it's not true until you've had a chance to review it from all angles. I would be surprised, at the very least, if this were true, but I won't say it isn't."
BRIAN P. KAVANAGH , professor of anesthesiology and physiology, University of Toronto
"We do live in an oxygen-starved environment. However, I'm unsure as to the evidence behind what they're claiming. There are other ways to increase the amount of oxygen in your body safely, effectively and cheaply, such as aerobic exercise and deep breathing. There are machines that are used for oxygen therapy in Europe that are actually based on sound science. A lack of oxygen can cause cancers to grow faster, invade other tissues and to metastasize. As to the waters, I really don't know if there's a mechanism by which oxygen from water is absorbed into the blood."
ERIC MARSDEN , naturopath, board of directors, Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors