One of the most frequent questions we get is along the lines of what the best dosing protocol for hydrogen water is or how many hydrogen tablets a day should be taken and at what time. It seems like a simple question, but the answer is quite complex, and to be quite frank, we don't really know what is the ideal dose of hydrogen water.
Unfortunately, many hydrogen water marketers confidently state precise dosages that should be consumed as a "one size fits all" approach. This sort of easy, confident answer is appealing to many people. This is closely related to the famous quote, source up for debate, "can someone bring me a one-handed economist," commentary on the tendency for economists, whose job involves speculating on complex dosing and protocol (in the case for many beneficial practices) is also complex and much critical information is missing that could properly form an answer.
Despite this complexity, there are certain things we do know. We know that continuous dosing is not effective, unlike intermittent dosing¹. In addition to the published work, I have discussed this with Tyler W. LaBaron in our interview at the 44 minute mark. This is likely due to the need to raise cellular H₂ concentration and likely build up an immediate tolerance with no benefit. Many protocols given by companies with a lack of any fundamental knowledge of how hydrogen gas works insist on sipping hydrogen water throughout the day. This is, in all likelihood, completely ineffective. Exacerbating the issue is that many of the companies promoting this also push technologies that produce below, or hovering around, the minimum therapeutic concentration determined by the International Hydrogen Standards Association.
Further, it is trending in the literature that for many outcomes, particularly metabolic issues as well as exercise performance and recovery, higher doses for a longer use is superior. In fact, as discussed with Tyler W. LeBaron in our second talk at around the 1:21 to 1:29 mark, in some cell lines there is a dose dependent response up to 800 μM of H₂, which based on Tyler's remark that 20μM would be the equivalent of consuming 1.6 mg of H₂, or 13 hydrogen tablets across 6.5 L in one go, assuming that no H₂ is exhaled, which isn't realistic. This is more or less impossible.
For other technologies that may get 1mg/L, this would be drinking 64 : of water in one go. 1 mg/L is a high dosage for most machines and ready to drink products, many of which are below 0.5mg/L or even 0.1 mg/L. This is why concentration is so important, as I detailed in a two-part series on why H₂ concentration matters.
For many molecules, higher dosages come with safety concerns. For H₂ gas, and the very small concentration of it that is delivered through water, safety concerns are almost non-existent. We naturally produce liters of H₂ gas aday through bacteria breaking down carbohydrates, and my friend Professor Ostojic, who I recorded this conversation with, has published hypotheses papers regarding endogenous H₂ production in the development of Parkinson's disease².
Additionally, we know that hydrogen gas is incredibly safe, as it is used in doses 1000x and higher in mixed gas for deep sea diving. In published clinical research, only 3 studies with a total of 63 subjects have noted potential adverse events (not necessarily related to hydrogen gas), while 72 trials with 1613 participants have noted no adverse events.
In the three trials with reported adverse events, one should be viewed as positive (insulin needed to be lowered in a diabetic patient), another involved patients recovering from a traumatic stroke and bed ridden with no evidence hydrogen was causing the issue, and the final cluster of reported adverse events was a study that may have been providing high doses of magnesium, in the form of magnesium hydroxide, with adverse events in line with magnesium overconsumption.
Since more is probably better, and more isn't harmful, should we always opt to take in the highest dose possible? Not necessarily. As I've detailed throughout the past, and as is discussed in published literature, molecular hydrogen is potentially working as a form of hormesis³, perhaps as a form of mitophormesis⁴ (hormesis for our mitochondria).
Hormesis is a beneficial stress that creates a favourable physiological outcome, think exercise, cold exposure, fasting or even alcohol. It is fairly clear that the same exercise day in and day out stops being as beneficial as it stops becoming a stress. This is often why starting a new workout program leads to dramatic improvements in body composition. It typically isn't that the new exercise was superior to the previous strategy employed, but more that it is new. Likewise, I have noted a sharp decline in the benefits of fasting, and after eight months I began experimenting with new fasting protocols.
Determining a protocol when first starting hydrogen water is a bit easier. I tend to recommend starting with one tablet a day if you have low to moderate issues you are looking to address and a low body weight, unless you're a professional athlete. For those with more issues, or larger in mass, I recommend starting with two tablets a day. It may be best to drink them on an empty stomach as one of my pending patents involves using polysaccharides (fibers) to create hydrogen-rich gels and water solutions far above the typical saturation point.
Eating a carbohydrate rich meal may impact hydrogen gas from getting into your cells. I recommend taking your hydrogen tablets first thing in the morning, or 5-10 minutes before strenuous exercise. It is ideal to drink the water as quickly as possible, as soon as the tablet rises to the surface, while the water is still white and dense with hydrogen gas.
Some people do not seem to respond to hydrogen water, but most do. For those that initially don't respond, we have anecdotally found that increasing the dose leads to a beneficial response. slowly increase the dose to see if you see a beneficial outcome.
- After the initial protocol is developed, I tend to recommend doing a wash-out of not taking hydrogen water or any form of hydrogen therapy for 3-4 days every `6 months (or 3 if you're very keen), and changing to a new protocol. Like switching to a new exercise, often this switchover shocks your system and new benefits start emerging, or perhaps beneficial results that were becoming less prominent are reinvigorated. It is likely fine to cycle through a few different protocols as by the time you use one again it will be "new."
Some things to try:
- Taking your hydrogen water only in the morning on an empty stomach, all of it in succession.
- Consuming hydrogen water 2x per day.
- Taking hydrogen water baths once a week. I recommend, except for acute usage of an injury, to skip drinking hydrogen water on days you take a hydrogen water bath.
- For those who have a very active lifestyle, only consuming hydrogen water on days you exercise, so long as it is over five times per week. Consume your hydrogen water 5-10 minutes before your biggest workout of the day.
- Spiking high doses some days, such as before you know you will have acute stress (i.e alcohol consumption, fasting, air travel, strenuous exercise), and lower doses on "maintenance" days.
As more research emerges, we will get better ideas on when it is best to use hydrogen therapy, which method is best for which use, appropriate dose for each intended outcome, and for each individual. Until then, we just need to experiment, observe, and follow rationale based on the evidence that is available. For those that are 100% confident in the best protocols, know that their confidence comes from a lack of understanding, not from competence in the area.