Oxygen Pills

Why the title “Oxygen Pills”?

Oxygen pills may be the best analogy I have found as a way to describe precisely why many supplements and “performance pills” do very little or nothing at all.

Correction; your wallet may lose substantial weight.

A friend from Facebook asked for my opinion with regards to MaxOne.


This is an easy one, as many products like this are.

This product boasts that it will help to boost levels of glutathione in the body. Glutathione, if you read about its metabolic pathways and functions, sounds like a wonder drug. A peptide that does amazing things. And if you are able to increase the amount of glutathione in the body’s cells, intracellular matrices, and so forth; you will reap benefits such as “more energy, quicker recovery time:, and so forth.

Raising GSH levels through direct supplementation of glutathione is difficult. Research suggests that glutathione taken orally is not well absorbed across the gastrointestinal tract. In a study of acute oral administration of a very large dose (3 grams) of oral glutathione, Witschi and coworkers found “it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione.”[23][24]

According to a group of researchers in France, vitamin D increases glutathione levels in the brain and appears to be a catalyst for glutathione production.[25] The amount of activated vitamin D in the brain is tied to how much vitamin D3 one has, either ingested through supplements or created in the skin via sun exposure. This suggests taking vitamin D3 supplements and/or getting adequate sun exposure boosts glutathione production.

In addition, plasma and liver GSH concentrations can be raised by administration of certain supplements that serve as GSH precursors. N-acetylcysteine, commonly referred to as NAC, is the most bioavailable precursor of glutathione.[26] Other supplements, including S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)[27][28][29] and whey protein[30][31][32][33][34][35] have also been shown to increase glutathione content within the cell.

NAC is available both as a drug and as a generic supplement. Alpha lipoic acid has also been shown to restore intracellular glutathione.[36][37] Melatonin has been shown to stimulate a related enzyme, glutathione peroxidase,[38] and silymarin, an extract of the seeds of the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum) has also demonstrated an ability to replenish glutathione levels.[39][40]

Glutathione is a tightly regulated intracellular constituent, and is limited in its production by negative feedback inhibition of its own synthesis through the enzyme gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase, thus greatly minimizing any possibility of overdosage.


The bold print is the important stuff. If you read the rest, it appears as though there are some methods to increase the level of glutathione in the body’s cells. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to maintain healthy levels of glutathione.

Other than eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly; there is really no need to try to override a healthy body’s preferred level of glutahione, or any other peptide, hormone, etc..

Here’s how that works.

#1 The negative feedback inhibition loop is a physiologic strategy used by the human body to keep many hormones, peptides and so forth, in check. In other words; many of these compounds exist with a second compound to limit the possibility of overproduction. This is a very tight system of checks and balances. Compound A is powerful and it’s partner, compound B is produced in greater amounts as needed to limit the amount of compound A circulating within the cytoplasm or bloodstream.

Many biological process (e.g., in the human anatomy) use negative feedback. Examples of this are numerous, from the regulating of body temperature, to the regulating of blood glucose levels. The disruption of feedback loops can lead to undesirable results: in the case of blood glucose levels, if negative feedback fails, the glucose levels in the blood may begin to rise dramatically, thus resulting in diabetes.


#2 Even when some Charlatan finds a way to make the supplementation of some physiologic process possible with a pill; the increase is often to such a small degree that the benefits are minimal and waning. And, you will most likely need to take more and more of the costly supplement to maintain the very minimal benefit. So to keep this up, you will need to find an affordable supply and be prepared to continue its use just to get a 2 t0 3% increase in performance, if that. Many supplements and pills don’t even provide a 2 to 3% increase in performance. This small increase might assist top level athletes, but serves no function as part of a healthy regimen for most human beings. And again, it is likely that as the body adjusts you will need more and more to get results and overcome the negative feedback loop. When you stop taking it you may experience a noticeable “crash”. And that is assuming it does anything in the first place. Many such pills do nothing and that is a very good thing. If every supplement did what it advertised; emergency rooms would be full of people every day who overdosed on some supplement because they took an extra dose and “beat” the negative feedback loop that was attempting to keep levels in check. Let’s all stand and give a round of applause to the human body for being much smarter than we are in terms of knowing what is good for us to stay alive.

#3 Many of these supplements and pills often come with some doctor or PhD in tow, extolling the virtues and benefits of the magic pill. And, although the claims may certainly be true concerning the physiologic activity of the supplement’s active ingredient; the ability of the magic pill to deliver the goods from your stomach and small intestine to your blood stream and cytoplasm of the body’s cells is way overblown if not a complete fabrication. This would be akin to taking oxygen pills so that you don’t become short of breath during strenuous activity. Just because there may be loads of oxygen atoms in the molecules in a soft-gel pill, along with hydrogen and carbon and so forth, and the pill winds up in your digestive system; this does not mean that the oxygen winds up in your lungs or in your bloodstream as environmental gaseous-form oxygen to assist your cardiopulmonary or respiratory systems. Producers of such products are banking on the fact that the public may do some cursory research to understand the benefits of the ingredient in question, but will not ultimately understand the limits that the human body puts on many metabolic functions with the aforementioned negative feedback inhibition systems.

And then, because a pro athlete receives that tiny edge that they need from the supplement; you now have a well known endorser to fully convince the public that they need this as well. Or, better yet; the pro athlete really gets nothing out of the supplement but could use another endorsement anyway. The consequences for such paid endorsers are hardly ever negative after endorsing a magic pill. How often do you hear of some athlete who “was” well respected, but is no longer respected due to their endorsement of some supplement?

This is much different from the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs such as we currently see with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. And even then; so long as Bonds and Clemens don’t name names, they may lose some of their mystique with the public, but may also still possess the ability to effectively endorse supplements. For example; if Bonds were to start endorsing a new supplement and say “I also used this on top of the steroids to get those results you saw when I played Major League Baseball for so many years”; you can be as sure as the sun sets that the supplement would fly off the shelves.

If you have a friend who swears that Pill X works like a charm; the chances are that same person has boxes of them for sale, just for you. And, at a special discount.

Ok, I need to go take my carbon dioxide pills. The manufacturer claims that these pills will speed the exit of carbon dioxide from my working muscles, blood stream and lungs so that I will have much more energy when I do my cardio workout. And, Shirley MaClaine and Jose Canseco swear they work. Sounds like a winner!


About darkstar67

Health and fitness describe my lifestyle. To live longer and feel stronger, follow me. I have an AA from Anne Arundel Community College in general studies with an emphasis on health sciences. I am a graduate of the University of Maryland University College with a BS in gerontology and a minor in biology. The gerontology degree includes a heavy emphasis on the health sciences as they pertain to aging. I have nine years of experience working at a large health club where I held the positions of trainer, head trainer, personal trainer and fitness counselor (sales). I have 2 children, Nicolas and Josephine. Aside from my children, my greatest passions are health and fitness. I live to train and I train to live longer. After all, that is the name of the game; live longer and stronger to add years to life as well as life to years.
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2 Responses to Oxygen Pills

  1. Ben says:

    Great post. There is a lot of quackery out there.

    • darkstar67 says:


      Thanks for the positive feedback.

      Nice choice of words. Quackery brings to mind a combination of two expressions; “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is” and “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck….”

      Not exactly sure how they go together other than to say that both expressions aim to help us see what should be obvious, but may not always appear to be.

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