Molecular Hydrogen as an Antioxidant

Small, Potent, Selective, and Safe

Hydrogen (H) is the smallest element in existence. It is the first element of the periodic table and can be found in the top left corner, represented by number 1. Made of only one proton and one electron, it is the smallest, yet the most fundamental element in the universe, with 75% of the visible universe made of hydrogen.

In nature, two hydrogen atoms bond together to form molecular hydrogen, H2.  At normal temperature and pressure, molecular hydrogen is a gas and is a natural part of the earth's atmosphere. H2 is mostly generated by bacteria and algae through the anaerobic metabolism. In the human body, H2 is produced by the bacteria in the intestines as they dissolve unassimilated carbohydrates, and later it is eliminated either via breath or flatulence. Interestingly, a study revealed that Japanese centenarians (people who are over 100 years old) have a 4x higher level of molecular hydrogen in their breath than the average person.

It is important to differentiate molecular hydrogen (H2) from hydrogen ions (H+). Hydrogen ion (H+) is a hydrogen atom with its electron stripped off. It is positively charged. Molecular hydrogen consists of two hydrogen atoms and is neutral.

For a very long time, most of the studies on H2 are focused on its use as a fuel source. But during the past ten years, people start to uncover the health benefits of H2. Over 500 scientific and clinical studies have been conducted to demonstrate the benefits of H2 on our health and various diseases. Due to its small size, H2 can get into your cells and cellular compartments and strengthen your antioxidant defense system. It destroys harmful free radicals and protects your body.

There is a War Waging Inside Your cells

Your cells are constantly under the attack of free radicals. They are the byproduct released by the mitochondria, the engine of the cells, during its production of energy. Because it has an unpaired electron, a free radical wants to take another electron from a molecule nearby to form a pair. By reacting with other molecules, free radicals aim towards stability, since they are unstable and disintegrate quickly. Scientifically, free radicals are known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).

To get a better idea of these processes, think about a car engine that burns gasoline for fuel. Its byproduct is smog, which is actually carbon monoxide. A toxic gas, carbon monoxide produces harmful effects on our health. Similarly, free radicals are the byproduct of the energy production in the cells. To continue the analogy, it’s safe to say that free radicals can be seen as the carbon monoxide of the cells.

Fortunately, our bodies are equipped with an antioxidant defense system which can fight the free radicals before they cause harm. However, as you age and the toxins in the body accumulate, your antioxidant system starts to run slower. As a result, free radicals become more powerful and begin to cause noticeable harm to your cells.

On the long term, the damage inflicted by the free radicals causes a condition known as oxidative stress, which has been associated with aging and numerous chronic diseases. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases are some of the chronic afflictions that have been linked to oxidative stress. It is clear now why the nutritional supplement industry always made its primary goal to promote antioxidants.

YOur Antioxidant Defense System

Free radicals are constantly released by mitochondria. Mitochondria have the role of energy producer. Besides the ATP (currency of energy in the cells), they also produce free radicals, which are the toxic waste product. Energy production is possible only with an input of oxygen. Normally 2-5% of the oxygen that contributes to energy production transforms afterward into free radicals, known as Superoxide Anions.

Our cells are home to antioxidant enzymes such a Superoxide Dismutase, able to neutralize a Superoxide Anion by converting it to Hydrogen Peroxide. A weaker and actually useful free radical, Hydrogen Peroxide is taken over by the immune system, which uses it to kill bacteria.  When tissue gets injured, Hydrogen Peroxide becomes a warning signal for the immune system. For example, when you cut yourself, Hydrogen Peroxide indicates to the white blood cells that they must mobilize to the location of the cut.

Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX) is another important antioxidant enzyme. By bonding together and thus forming Glutathione Disulfide (GDS), two GPXs are able to convert Hydrogen Peroxide into two water molecules. When the reaction is over, GDS is disintegrated by another enzyme into 2 GPXs, which are now ready to convert more Hydrogen Peroxide. Since these reactions follow a continuous cycle, GPX cannot always function readily as an antioxidant, as it is not available at all times.

This is a two-step process focused on cleaning your cells of free radicals to ensure their optimal health. When the antioxidant system doesn’t have access to enough Superoxide Dismutase and Glutathione Peroxidase, free radicals such as Superoxide Anion and Hydrogen Peroxide form in your cells. Although these two aren’t necessarily that harmful, they usually react with each other, forming a fatal free radical, known as Hydroxyl Radical.

If you don’t pay attention to your lifestyle, diet, and environment, your body may get overwhelmed as your cells can wind up releasing more free radicals than your antioxidant enzymes can neutralize. Moreover, as you age, the power and number of the antioxidant enzymes diminish. An excess of free radicals in your cells translates into severe consequences on your health.

Extra Free Radicals Cause Oxidative Stress

The Most Dangerous Free Radical

Normally free radicals should be eliminated as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they can make more dangerous formations. A good example is Hydrogen Peroxide, which in the presence of iron or other transition metals, can easily become a threat by converting into Hydroxyl Radicals.

The cells can also form Hydroxyl Radical under the harmful influence of radiation, Electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), and UV rays. By penetrating your cells, these extremely dense energetic waves break up water molecules. Sometimes, Hydroxyl Radical appears instead of water.

CHECK YOURSELF! Even if you are very healthy, your cells generate free radicals at every moment of the day. Have a look at the most common causes that generate an excess of free radicals in your cells. You might be exposed to them regularly.

Why are Hydroxyl Radicals dangerous? Because they will steal an electron from any molecule closest to them, thus causing damage. They are also structurally similar to water. With just another electron from a hydrogen atom, they can become water. In their intense need to reach stability, they break apart electrons of hydrogen atoms from whatever molecule nearby. The victims of these rip-offs are usually proteins, lipids, and DNA.

An instability in the ratio between free radicals and antioxidants allows the formation of Hydroxyl Radicals that can negatively impact the health of cellular molecules. This is known as Oxidative Stress, and it is the cause of a variety of severe health challenges. Depending on your genetics, you might be more or less affected by it.

If you feel your health declining, Oxidative Stress is most likely one of the primary causes. The solution is to strengthen your antioxidant defense system so the extra free radicals can be easily eliminated. To give a good power boost to the antioxidants inside your cells, you can change your diet to include more food rich in antioxidants, exercise regularly and take antioxidant supplements.

Molecular Hydrogen: The Perfect Antioxidant


H2 is the tiniest known antioxidant out there. This is highly important because it means it can easily go through the stomach lining and start working inside your cells immediately. In comparison, antioxidants such as Vitamin C or Vitamin E are large molecules and take a much longer time to travel through your digestive tract, intestines, and blood flow in order to reach your cells.

Since it is a gas, H2 gets easily and rapidly diffused through the cells. It can move freely through the body and it can assume its function as an antioxidant in a quick and efficient way, undeterred by the obstacles faced by other antioxidants. 

Because of its small size, H2 is able to cross the Blood-Brain-Barrier, which is usually very difficult for other antioxidants to get through. As a huge consumer of oxygen, approximately 20% of the oxygen you breathe, the brain is one of the biggest victims of oxidative stress. It is of utmost importance to protect the brain if we want to preserve our health and intellectual capacity. That is why antioxidants are so necessary.


H2 is very effective in selecting its targets and focuses only on hydroxyl radicals. This is a key distinction. By eliminating only the dangerous free radicals, H2 presents huge benefits. It does not affect free radicals such as nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide, which as we discussed previously, are useful to the cells. Hydrogen peroxide is the weapon the immune system uses to kill bacteria. Nitric oxide functions as a warning signal that determines the closing or opening of blood vessels in different parts of the body for a better circulation.

Other antioxidants are not specialized. They usually eliminate any free radical in their proximity without selection, which may cause an imbalance in the number of antioxidants and free radicals in the cells. Any such disturbance has negative effects on the health of your body.

Zero Toxicity

By converting hydroxyl radicals into water, the molecules of H2 hydrate the cells. H2 has thus zero toxicity, even in dense concentrations. When the body receives excessive H2, it simply eliminates it. Although they manage to neutralize free radicals, other antioxidants turn into weak free radicals themselves at the end of the reaction. A good example is Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid which becomes Ascorbyl Radical.


Besides its power of eliminating hydroxyl radicals, H2 is also helpful for improving the active roles of your antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Working in collaboration with each specific antioxidant enzyme, H2 molecules act against all different types of dangerous or extra free radicals. By working in synergy, all these antioxidants make sure that the cells will not suffer oxidative stress.

H2 is able to provide good support for the antioxidant enzymes while also destroying the dangerous hydroxyl radicals. Without affecting the balance of antioxidants and free radicals inside your cells, H2 offers the greatest protection against harmful free radicals.

Considering these unique characteristics, it is clear that Molecular Hydrogen is an exceptional antioxidant compared to all the rest.
John W.
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