The adult human body is 60% water . We need water to survive, and even a small depletion in
our water supply has detrimental effects on our health.
But what if we said that the water you drink isn’t exactly as clear-cut as you think?
Here, we’re exploring deuterium, a close cousin of the water molecules you’re familiar with,
whether deuterium depleted water is better for your body, and seven health benefits that
suggest it is.
The Basics of Deuterium
Deuterium is one of the three isotopes of hydrogen, containing one proton and one neutron in
each atom. The most common isotope of hydrogen, protium, contains one proton and no
neutrons, and the third isotope of hydrogen, tritium, contains one proton and two neutrons.
Those little neutrons make a huge difference.
The presence of deuterium’s single neutron makes it more massive and heavier than protium.
For this reason, deuterium and tritium are sometimes called heavy hydrogen. It also means that
deuterium behaves differently in biochemical reactions than protium.
For one thing, deuterium and tritium form stronger chemical bonds than protium thanks to their
extra neutrons. The higher viscosity of heavy water and stability of the molecules means that it’s
often used as a tracer in nuclear reactors.
It is not radioactive , though drinking large quantities of heavy water would make you dizzy since
the density difference between regular water and heavy water would alter the fluid density in
your inner ear.
Health Benefits of Deuterium Depleted Water
The natural abundance of deuterium in a given water source varies from one water source to
the next, but it’s estimated that the natural abundance of deuterium in the ocean is roughly one
atom per 6,400 atoms of hydrogen. In other words, 99.98% of the hydrogen in the ocean is
That said, deuterium does behave differently than protium at a biochemical level, which means
it reacts with the human body differently–and in ways that may not be good for you.
1. Mitosis in Mammals
As previously noted, deuterium and tritium form stronger hydrogen bonds than protium (thanks
to their neutrons). This has a few interesting biochemical effects.
One of them is related to mitosis , which is when a cell divides to produce identical copies of
itself, a vital process in growth, healing, and cellular development. Specifically, we’re concerned
about mitotic spindles.
Spindle fibers form a protein structure that divides the genetic material in a cell. The spindles
are critical in ensuring equal division of genetic material to split the parent cell chromosomes
into identical daughter cells. They’re vital to both types of nuclear division (mitosis and meiosis),
and in mitosis (when the cell splits into two identical daughter cells), these spindle fibers are
known as mitotic spindles.
Remember, deuterium forms stronger hydrogen bonds than protium. A stronger bond means
that it’s much more difficult to break. Too much deuterium in the body means that the mitotic
spindles have a harder time equally dividing genetic material between cells.
In simple terms, instead of getting two identical daughter cells, you get two almost identical
cells. A single genetic error between two cells might not seem like a big deal, but the results of
those genetic errors build up over time.
2. Reduction of Deuterated Molecules
The problem is that deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen, even though the atom itself is different
from the protium atoms our bodies are accustomed to. This means that if you consume too
much deuterium, your body will begin to use deuterated hydrogen molecules in place of regular
hydrogen. After all, as far as the body is concerned, hydrogen is hydrogen.
Deuterium can go anywhere that protium does and fulfill the same role that protium can in any
chemical reaction where hydrogen is necessary. But that extra neutron in each atom means
you’re dealing with a different hydrogen molecule, which will behave differently even though it
fulfills the need for a hydrogen molecule.
In plain English? Molecules using deuterium in place of protium will have slightly altered
Here’s the problem: human cells rely heavily on hydrogen to conduct their normal business.
Like chromosomes–you know, the molecules that form your DNA? Or your neurotransmitters,
the chemical messengers of the brain. Or your hormones, which help regulate bodily functions.
3. Reducing the Kinetic Isotope Effect
We’re talking about the kinetic isotope effect or KIE, a phenomenon in chemistry in which
isotopically substituted molecules exhibit different reaction rates. The most common isotope
used in light atom effects is (you guessed it) the replacement of protium with the deuterium
A heavier molecule or atom has a lower frequency of vibration and thus lower zero-point energy ,
while a lighter molecule or atom has a higher frequency of vibration and thus higher zero-point
energy. This results in different bond dissociation energy. The bond dissociation energy for
deuterium is higher than protium, which means its reaction rate is slower. This does not change
the structure of the molecule or the reactions the molecule may undergo, just the rate of
In non-chemistry speak, deuterium’s extra neutron means it’s slower to react than protium.
This is actually why deuterium isotopes are used as tracers in nuclear reactors. By strategically
replacing regular hydrogen atoms with deuterium in a key location within a reacting molecule,
scientists can set up a chemical footrace . If deuterium slows the reaction, they know that the
carbon-hydrogen bond is likely broken before the rate-determining transition state.
In nuclear reactors, this mechanism is used to slow neutrons so they can react with fissionable
uranium, eliminating the need for uranium enrichment (deuterium has roughly six times greater
thermal neutron capture cross-section than regular hydrogen).
Of course, a human is not a nuclear reactor, and that slowed reaction isn’t a good thing.
High amounts of deuterium in the body can make natural biochemical reactions six to ten times
slower . And if you know anything about chemistry, you know that timing is everything.
Take cell division, for example. If you get a gash on your arm, you need cell division to occur at
regular speed in order for your skin to knit itself back together again. Slowed cell division thanks
to deuterium means that those reactions will take six to ten times longer–and healing is six to
ten times slower. And that’s just one reaction gone awry.
4. Improved Mitochondrial Health
In case you hadn’t guessed, this reduced rate of reaction and lower energy translates into–well,
In the cells of animals, plants, and fungi, the mitochondria serves as the Energizer Bunny.
They’re found in the cells of almost every complex organism and produce 90% of the energy
that cells need to survive.
They do this through a process called oxidative phosphorylation to produce a chemical called
NADH, which is then used by enzymes in the mitochondrial inner membrane to generate
adenosine triphosphate (ATP), where energy is stored in the form of chemical bonds. Cells use
energy stored in the chemical bonds by breaking them.
The key to this process is ATP synthase , the smallest known biological nanometer found in
almost all living things. In fact, ATP synthase stands alone as the one known universal
So, what does this have to do with deuterium?
Deuteronation (replacing regular hydrogen molecules with deuterium) does not completely
inhibit ATP synthase activity–that would kill an organism in a very short time period. However, it
does slow ATP synthase activity thanks to KIE.
That means that your mitochondria cannot produce as much energy as they typically would.
Basically, 90% of your cellular energy supply is being curbed–and while the effect isn’t lethal, it’s
certainly not pleasant, and it’s certainly not what you need to operate at your prime.
5. Potential Benefits for Cancer
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the harmful effects of the presence of deuterium. But
what about the benefits of removing it?
There have been a few studies examining the effects of deuterium depleted water in
combination with standard cancer treatment. One four-month double-blind study replaced
regular water with deuterium depleted water for 22 prostate cancer patients, with an additional
22 patients receiving normal water. Both received the same conventional cancer treatments.
The treated group saw an increase in the chance of partial treatment success by 7 (7 vs. 1
patient), reduced levels of PSA (a marker of disease progression), reduced prostate volume,
relief from unpleasant urination symptoms, and a 4.5 increase in the one-year survival rate (2
deaths vs. 9 deaths).
The same study did a retrospective observation of 91 patients treated with deuterium depleted
water. Their average survival time was 11 years, though the lack of a placebo group makes it
unclear how much or how little deuterium depleted water contributed to the effect as opposed to
standard cancer treatment.
6. Deuterium and DNA
Remember that deuterium forms stronger hydrogen bonds than protium, thanks to its extra
neutron. Tighter deuterium bonds mean that it requires more energy to break the bonds in
normal biochemical processes, which means the entire process requires more energy than
usual to complete. And while cells are certainly capable of doing it, it takes them longer to do so.
That’s a problem when deuterium is swapped for protium in certain biochemical processes, or in
instances where deuterium is swapped in for protium in a molecule’s basic structure.
Take DNA, for example, which uses hydrogen bonds as the backbone of its helical structure.
The class of proteins and enzymes required for DNA replication also rely heavily on hydrogen
Stronger bonds sound like a good thing, right? After all, you don’t want your DNA to fall apart.
Well, it’s not as common sense as it sounds.
Remember, stronger bonds mean that cells need more energy to break the bonds, meaning
they have to work harder than usual to break bonds. And cells break DNA bonds more often
than you’d think–breaking those bonds is vital for DNA synthesis and replication. If cells have to
work harder than usual to break DNA bonds, there’s a higher than usual chance that the cell will
make mistakes when it breaks the DNA apart and a higher risk of errors when it puts the DNA
back together in daughter cells.
Either way, the process will take longer. Here’s the problem: if your DNA can’t synthesize and
repair at the rate it’s supposed to, your body can’t replicate cells efficiently.
7. Potential to Boost Glucose Metabolism
On the flip side, the absence of deuterium can help bolster cell metabolism–and that’s a good
thing for patients with glucose metabolism issues.
In one study, 30 volunteers with pre-clinical or manifest diabetes received 1.5 liters of deuterium
depleted water every day for 90 days. Fasting insulin and glucose levels, and 15 subjects had
an improved reaction to their glucose load, while the other 15 had the opposite effect. 11 of the
subjects had improved peripheral glucose disposal.
In another study using a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model, the glucose and HbA1C
parameters of adult male rats were tested after eight weeks of deuterium depleted water
intervention. The water had a minor influence on rats not receiving insulin, but the parameters
were still much lower than those rats who received regular drinking water and insulin.
If it is the case that deuterium can help with glucose metabolism, that’s good news for patients
with diabetes who can potentially use deuterium depleted water to supplement existing care
plans. For those patients who don’t have clinical diabetes, the boost to your cell metabolism is
Drinking Healthier Water
The water you drink is more than just water. It’s the building materials for 60% of your body. And
when you’re trying to go about your daily life, you want your body to operate at its prime, down
to the smallest detail.
Isn’t it time to invest in something good for you?
We’re proud to offer high-quality deuterium depleted water to customers who want to take
charge of their health. Check out our shop to learn more about our products.