While the ‘science’ behind hyper-oxygenated water has been dismissed by many scientists as quackery, the entrepreneurs behind OXYwater - Tom Jackson and Preston Harrison – are careful not to make any hard claims about their product, noting only that “some people claim the extra oxygen may have health benefits”.
They add: “When you purify water, or when it sits around too long, the dissolved oxygen in the water escapes. So the water can taste flat or bitter. Using a special patented process, we add O2. Lots of it. This gives OXYwater its clean, crisp, light, fresh taste.”
Listings at Walmart, GNC, Walgreens and Kroger
Manufactured in Wisconsin, the zero-calorie ‘oxygen-enhanced mineral water’ (SRP $2.59) is sweetened with stevia, and contains vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12; magnesium, zinc, calcium, sulfur, selenium, copper, and potassium plus several trace minerals; antioxidants from a blend of concentrated fruit extracts; and electrolytes.
While some retail buyers had expressed skepticism over the enhanced oxygen, the light taste of the product combined with its nutrient punch had helped it to secure regional listings in a several leading retailers including Walmart, GNC, Walgreens and Kroger within weeks of the launch, spokesman Paul Strong told NutraIngredients-USA.
“Sales have just exploded since we launched it. We’re also having conversations with potential customers about international opportunities.”
‘What we say is try it and see’
Bosses were also in discussions with several professional sports teams about marketing tie-ups for OXYwater, which has a 12-month shelf-life and is being merchandised in several locations in the store from the refrigerated beverage section to the sports nutrition category to the main beverage aisle, claimed Strong.
Asked about the benefits of oxygenated water, Strong added: “I’m not a doctor or a scientist but some people have depleted levels of oxygen in their system. Some people have been skeptical, but the enhanced oxygen is only one aspect of the product. What we say is try it and see.”
BJSM review: oxygen waters have ‘a flimsy rationale and no rigorous experimental support’
Standard water has a small amount of dissolved oxygen gas, which is what fish filter through their gills. Oxygenated water can carry significantly more.
Unlike fish, however, humans have a very efficient mechanism for getting the oxygen they need, note skeptics: breathing.
According to a review by Dr Claude Piantadosi, director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology at Duke University Medical Center published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006 (‘Ergogenic claims for oxygenated water therefore cannot be taken seriously’), health claims about enhanced oxygen waters “have a flimsy rationale and no rigorous experimental support”.
He adds: “The intestine, unlike the lung, is not designed for gas exchange, and [oxygen] absorbed in this way would have a negligible effect viscerally or on systemic oxygen delivery.”
“In summary, 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.”
The FTC has also taken action against firms selling oxygenated water, notably the firms behind ‘Vitamin O’ (Rose Creek Health Products and The Staff of Life), for making false and unsubstantiated claims.