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Oxygenated Water April 7, 2010

Posted by zach in Biology, Chemistry, Exercise, Medicine, Physiology.

Does what’s in your water bottle during a race matter?

Recently a new study came out citing, when alcohol contained a high amount of dissolved oxygen there was a decreased hangover effect.  My first reaction was asking myself how this worked. From Science Daily I learned that dissolved oxygen can function as an agent for the alcohol metabolizing enzymes to oxidize the ethanol into less toxic products until it’s completely decomposed into water and carbon dioxide.  This sparked me to  research if any studies have been done to see if oxygenated water had an ergogenic effect in endurance athletes.

When mice consumed water with high dissolved oxygen content they had enhanced survival ability, fatigue recovery, greater anoxia function and increased energy storage.  While oxygenated water may contain what seems to be a rather insignificant amount of oxygen (~40mg/L) versus that which your body obtains per breath (~150 mg of oxygen), it may be just enough to tweak certain athletic performances.   Consider for a moment that you are a professional cyclist and the difference between  winning a race and going home a loser comes down to a few inches in a races that covers over 100 miles.  In these situations athletes are more than happy to look into any slim performance enhancing drinks, especially if it was as simple as drinking water with high oxygen content.

Thus in regards to the article, all the ergogenic effects of drinking oxygenated water that were found in mice would be extremely beneficial to any athlete. The studies are lacking in humans and there a lot of skeptics on the issue of oxygenated water.  The skeptics say that the oxygen in the water is insignificant because oxygen cannot be easily absorbed thought the stomach.  Secondly most of the oxygen gas will be burped out not allowing it to be absorbed into the body.  My reaction is if it worked in mice there is a good chance that the same effects could be carryed over in humans.  Both are mammals.  Both have similar digestive tracts.

Does the next step in athletic performance, in regards to oxygen intake, involve not breathing air but ingesting it?

Perfluorocarbon can contain 25 percent more oxygen than air and can transfer oxygen to the lungs three times more effectively than air. When mice are submerged in perfluorocarbon they can survive for several weeks and will make a complete recovery when the perfluorocarbon is drained from the lungs.  Amazingly, if a deep-sea diver used a single breath of liquid oxygenated perfluorocarbon, he or she could remain submerged for up to an  hour without  having to take another breath.

If oxygen uptake was no longer a limiting factor on athletic performance, then  a whole new set of possibilities emerges exploring  how fast or strong athletes can become by not breathing air, but breathing liquid perfluorocarbons.

The BBC production Wonders of the Human Body explores how perfluorocarbon have the possibility to be used as a new medium for the body to obtain oxygen.


1. Dr. O - April 7, 2010

Cool post, Zach!

It feels like a segment from the movie, “The Abyss”

One thing researchers and PFC users would have to worry about is the safe removal of CO2 from the lungs and blood. You can breathe in loads of O2, but your muscles also need to get rid of CO2. Increased CO2 build up also knocks down athletic performance do to changes in pH.

I looked into this interesting topic a little bit and came across some research done by a scientist by the name of Clark. He did some work making a PFC emulsion which he then injected into the bloodstream. He made fake erythrocytes! Well, quasi-erythrocytes…basically just O2 delivery molecules.

What does THAT mean for blood doping????

Lastly, PFCs are one of the major elements regulated by the original Kyoto Protocol. While these molecules may be wonder drugs for athletic performance….they are disastrous for the environment. I guess that they have a Global Warming Potential (GWP…a measure of the potential to increase global warming) of 6,500X more than CO2. Whoa!

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