Ergogenic Aids not found in Oxygenated Water

The myth of ‘oxygenated water’

Ergogenic claims for oxygenated water are unsubstantiated and cannot be taken seriously, according to a leading article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dr Claude Piantadosi, director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology at Duke University Medical Center, in the US, explains that the idea that athletes might gain a competitive edge by drinking water containing extra dissolved oxygen arose from observations that oxygen breathing during exercise enhances athletic performance.

Such claims, he points out ‘have a flimsy rationale and no rigorous experimental support’.

For one thing, supplemental oxygen improves performance only during exercise and not before or between bouts; secondly, the solubility of oxygen in water is low; and thirdly, it is not known whether oxygen is actually absorbed from drinking water, hyperoxygenated or not.

‘…the intestine, unlike the lung, is not designed for gas exchange, and [oxygen] abosrbed in this way would have a negligible effect viscerally or on systemic oxygen delivery’.

Finally, analysis of the five brands of hyperoxygenated water suggests they actually contain less oxygen per litre than a single breath of fresh air!

Can this amount of oxygen possibly boost performance? Three controlled studies on oxygenated water and performance say not. Researchers found no differences between people drinking oxygenated and plain water across a range of variables, including VO2, blood lactate and recovery as well as performance.

‘In summary,’ argues Dr Piantadosi, ‘oxygenated water fails both quantitative analysis and practical physiological tests of exercise performance and recovery. Only miniscule quantities of [oxygen] can be dissolved in drinking water compared with that required for exercise, and significant intestinal absorption of [oxygen] is unsubstantiated.

‘Ergogenic claims for oxygenated water therefore cannot be taken seriously.’

Br J Sports Med 2006;40:740

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