I recently came across a strange idea that appears to be popular in the biohacking and alternative health community. The essence of it is that many of the ills of modern life are cased by a buildup to excess deuterium in our bodies. As this site explains:

Deuterium will enter the body and pass into the mitochondria and find itself at the top of the spinning head, ready to assist in energy production and create a magnetic field.

The spinning head is specifically designed by nature to accept hydrogen in its standard form. That is one proton and one electron. Deuterium contains a neutron and the spinning head is not equipped to deal with his neutron or wide enough for it to pass through the spinning head easily. When we have deuterium in the body it cannot pass through the spinning head well, gums up the system and ultimately slows down the rotation thus reducing energy production and magnetic field strength.

Less oxygen is drawn from the blood, energy levels reduce and your redox potential decreases. A lowering of your redox potential means a huge increase in your risks of chronic diseases.

Deuterium is not good if you want to live a long and disease free life. We need to remove it from our bodies.

There is even a centre dedicated to the science that goes into more detail (they believe, for example, that tissue deuterium should be <130ppm which is substantially below the natural abundance of the isotope).

Is there any science at all that says too much deuterium interferes with mitochondrial function and results in a large increase in chronic diseases?

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    Although not very well researched, it is commonly assumed that a too high concentration of heavy water in the body can be dangerous, since the chemcial properties relevant for different bodily functions are different from regular water. What I would doubt is that there is a buildup of excess heavy water at all, but that is your text and not part of what you quoted. I don't see any reason why 'modern life' should cause a higher heavy water intake than what humans have coped with for tens of thousands of years. Dec 16, 2018 at 18:13
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Chemists tend to think that lots of heavy water is clearly bad as it will disrupt many basic physiological processes (heavy water's properties are significantly different from normal water's) but only in large quantities. This claim appears to be about minor deviations from natural abundance and some versions claim that most modern ills are cause by too much deuterium.
    – matt_black
    Dec 16, 2018 at 20:11
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    I'll try again, since I am not sure what you are questioning. The article you are linking to only says that heavy water is not good for you without mentioning anything about an amount in a typical alt-med tactic to mention an in itself correct statement, but out of context or proportion, to substantiate something. Only you mention excess, buildup and deviations from natural abundance. Those terms are only found in your text, not in the claim you are linking to. Dec 16, 2018 at 21:07
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I should probably have linked to other sites and pages on the topic to elaborate. They do make more detailed claims. This site summarised the broad arguments without giving so many detailed numbers. Others clearly argue for reductions from natural deuterium levels.
    – matt_black
    Dec 16, 2018 at 21:20
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I added a link to a site with far more detail on the claims and far more detailed claims. I could add more, but what I said originally is already a reasonable summary of the key elements.
    – matt_black
    Dec 16, 2018 at 23:07

1 Answer 1



Remember that Deuterium is about 1 atom in 6400 of normal Hydrogen in natural water. It does not build up in the usual processes in the body.

The primary effects are in changing slightly the energy levels of chemical bonds involving Hydrogen. Some chemical processes in organisms are very sensitive to such changes.

The biggest effect is not on the mitochondria, but on mitosis. This is probably the most sensitive process in cells.

In humans, toxic effects don't show up until replacement of about 25% of the water with D2O. It would require truly heroic means to consume enough heavy water to make a human ill. Indeed, you would need to drink many liters of pure D2O to have any effect at all.

  • Yeah, deuterium is present in small amounts in all water. Unless you're swimming in a nuclear reactor of some sort you're highly unlikely to encounter an "unnatural" concentration of the stuff. Dec 16, 2018 at 22:20
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    @DanielRHicks There's an XKCD "What If?" for that! Dec 16, 2018 at 22:36
  • Yes, lots of deuterium is bad for you. But is 200ppm rather than 100ppm bad in the body? That is the original claim in the sources. Approximately.
    – matt_black
    Dec 18, 2018 at 21:59

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