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    Editorial: Love Is Like Oxygen

    Oxygen, the most abundant element on earth, is like love: Buying it is riskier than getting it free. And while some persons receive it inattentively, others, it seems, canít get enough.

    Something in the Air
    About fifteen years ago, I was a supplement buff reading Rejuvenation, a book in which "nutrition reporter" Linda Clark (then one of my favorite authors) recommended a liquid supplement called "Zell Oxygen." ("Zell" Is a German prefix that means "cell.") I eagerly bought at least one bottle of the refrigerated yeast preparation in a health food store. It was unpalatable. An ad in an early 1992 Issue of Health World magazine described Genesis 1000, a liquid mineral preparation, as "the oxygen supplement." It quoted a previous Issue, which had designated this product "the vital nutrient."

    So-called oxygen supplements are still around. Theyíre just obscure. Last year, I heard a vender at a health food trade show describe oxygen as "vitamin O," the "most vital nutrient." One Sickness-One Disease-One Treatment (1995) recommends "formulas" such as Liquid Lightning Oxygen-O3 for "oxygen deprivation."

    Where Do We Draw the Line?
    Vitamins are by definition organic compounds (they contain carbon). Oxygen is not a compound and therefore not a vitamin. But is it a nutrient? Trying to define "nutrient" (or "food") is an exercise in tautology. Broadly, a nutrient is any substance that promotes development of the body, is necessary for life, or contains something necessary for life. According to The Nutrition and Health Encyclopedia (1989), "nutrient" is "a general term for any substance which can be used in the metabolic processes of the body." Realities of Nutrition (1993) states: "Nutrient is a general term that refers to any dietary substance that nourishes the body in some way."

    According to The Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology (1990), however, nutrients are "essential dietary factors such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fats" -- substances that are indispensable, we ingest, and have significance as part of a diet.

    The meanings of words depend on general usage; and, in particular fields, the definitions of some words differ from their popular meanings. Apparently, most dietitians, qualified nutritionists, and food scientists do not designate oxygen a nutrient. Although oxygen is essential for metabolism in animals and plants, there are reasons for not considering it a nutrient:
    Oxygen is dietarily ubiquitous: It is a percentage component of air (as in ice cream) and a molecular component of carbon dioxide (as in soda pop), water, and many other food constituents (e.g., the essential nutrients lysine, tryptophan, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and K. But oxygen is not in itself a dietary factor, because: (1) oxygen in the alimentary canal does not discretely contribute to digestion or absorption (that is, nascent [atomic] oxygen [O], ordinary [diatomic] oxygen [O2], and triatomic oxygen [O3], as such, do not contribute); and (2) oxygen does not contribute to metabolism as a discrete dietary component.

    In short, oxygen is dietarily ubiquitous, yet oxygen whose source is food or dietary water does not discretely contribute to digestion, absorption, or metabolism. (In a related vein, the metallic element cobalt apparently is essential to humans solely because it is part of cobalamin -- vitamin B12. But cobalt is not dietarily ubiquitous.)
    Hypoxia (definable as a deficiency of oxygen in body tissues) and anoxia (which includes severe hypoxia and histotoxic anoxia [a condition due to the inability of tissues to utilize oxygen]) are not related to the amount of oxygen that enters the gastrointestinal tract.

    Although O2, like other small molecules, is absorbable from the gastrointestinal tract (particularly the small intestine), we expel most of the air we swallow. The proportion of oxygen in swallowed air that we absorb from the gastrointestinal tract appears unknown, but it is probably very small.

    It is not useful for science-oriented health professionals to consider oxygen a nutrient: Dietary supplements cannot beneficially change oxygen intake. Diet affects oxygen intake only rarely, as in cases of asthma and/or hypersensitivity to sulfites. The effect in such cases is due to the inclusion or exclusion of particular foods, not to the amount of oxygen in the diet.

    Carbon, which is dietarily ubiquitous, and nitrogen, a constituent of all amino acids, are also essential to life, but Iíve never heard or read a description of either as a nutrient for humans. Perhaps this is because there is no financial reason to describe them as such.

    The "O" Zone
    Oxymania has increased considerably since I bought Zell Oxygen circa 1980. Self-"oxygenators" donít necessarily take supplements, though. Some introduce an allotype of oxygen -- ozone (O3) -- into their colons via the anus. (Ozone yields O2 and atomic oxygen [O], which is more active chemically than O2.) Some drink hydrogen peroxide solutions and/or "therapeutically" ozonized water.

    Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide (1993) states that "oxygen therapy" refers to "a wide range of therapies utilizing oxygen in various forms to promote healing and destroy pathogens (disease-producing microorganisms and toxins) in the body." According to the Guide, the two main categories of oxygen therapy are: (1) oxygenation therapy, which comprises methods that purportedly add oxygen to blood or tissues (e.g., hyperbaric oxygen therapy [HBOT]); and (2) oxidation therapy, which includes hydrogen peroxide therapy. (Use of a "pressure chamber" that fits one person or several persons distinguishes HBOT, which has utility in treating burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke inhalation, and other conditions.) The Guide suggests that ozone therapy spans both categories. Expressions related to oxygen therapy include "oxygen healing therapies," "hyperoxygenation therapy," "oxidative therapy," "bio-oxidative therapy," and "bio-oxidative medicine." But, except for "hyperbaric oxygen therapy," all of the oxygen-therapy related expressions in this paragraph are elusive; there is no consensus on their meanings. is not a comercial or official site. all opinions provided at drugsboat are personal opinions and should not be taken too seriously, but considered. drugsboat holds no responsibility for any negative consequences of it's contents. information is here free for taking, it's visitor's responsibility to use it in a proper way.