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According to the Los Alamos National Labs, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe 1. In fact, hydrogen makes up an estimated 90 percent of all atoms. In most cases, when you hear about hydrogen, it is usually in the context of outer space, military weapons or fuel sources for cars. However hydrogen is also a crucial element in the operation of the human body.
One of the major ways that hydrogen is used in the body is in water. Water is made up of two-thirds hydrogen atoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, water is so important that it makes up over 60 percent of your body 2.
Hydrogen also plays a crucial role in energy production in the body. For our bodies to function, they must have energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Your body gains energy through consuming foods rich in substances such as carbohydrates. Once ingested, the body uses enzymes to break down your food into more basic substances such as glucose. These basic parts are then further broken down through glycolysis and beta oxidation, leaving your body with acetyl CoA. Acetyl CoA is then broken down into hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. The hydrogen ions are transported to the mitochondria of the cells, which then uses the hydrogen to create ATP.
According to Dr. Patrick Flanagan, hydrogen may also be the missing link in slowing down the aging process. The aging of tissues in the body is believed to be caused by substances called free radicals in the body. Inside many of the tissues in the body are stored (pooled) supplies of hydrogen. According to Dr. Flanagan, this hydrogen protects us from free radical damage. Unfortunately, as we age, these storages dry up. This leaves the tissue exposed to free radicals, which leads to the tissue damage seen with aging.