11

votes

Has lithium been overlooked?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 31, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Lithium (Li) is a trace mineral, used in the treatment of bipolar disorder at doses hundreds of times higher than that from diet. The main dietary sources are vegetables and grains, followed by dairy. The concentration in water varies widely: @evolutionarypsy recently tweeted San Pellegrino's high Li content of 200mcg/L.

Among myriad actions it decreases brain inflammation by reducing brain arachadonic acid levels and increasing the concentration of an anti-inflammatory metabolite of DHA (evolutionarypsychiatry.com/2010/07/lithium-and-inflammation.html). It also supports B12 and folate transport into cells.

In Japan and Texas there's an inverse correlation between tap water's lithium concentration and suicide, and the Texas study also showed lower arrests for drug use and violent crime.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1699579

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19407280.

In the Japanese study the highest concentration in water was 59mcg/L.

400mcg Li improved mood in a small placebo-controlled trial in former drug users. "In the Li group, the total (positive) mood test scores increased steadily during the four weeks of supplementation and specifically in the subcategories reflecting happiness, friendliness and energy. In the placebo group, the combined mood scores showed no consistent changes; the happiness scores actually declined." http://www.jacn.org/content/21/1/14.long

Drinking mineral water relatively high in Li increased BDNF (the hallowed brain-derived neurotrophic factor also increased by things like exercise and eating your blueberries), and reduced anxiety scores (in a non-controlled trial) www.gjpsy.uni-goettingen.de/gjp-article-shiotsuki.pdf

And it may affect lifespan - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21301855

  • Does avoiding grains and dairy make the Li content of your water more important? Should San Pellegrino join Kerrygold in the hall of fame?

  • Anyone aware of Li levels in water in Africa, or estimates of paleolithic Li intake?

  • Not another thing to tweak, you neurotic OP! (?)

-- edit: A psychiatrist recently drew flack in Ireland for suggesting more lithium in tap water, which resulted in inevitable comments about medicating the populace, and comparisons with Brave New World. If we have higher rates of mental health problems in low lithium areas it makes me wonder about the norm in the evolutionary "milieu". On the other hand just as depression isn't an antidepressant deficiency maybe protective effects of small quantities of lithium are more "medicinal" than normal physiology at work. http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/kfqlojsnmhcw/rss2/

97ffbac59e88bdff6495d0a9b6f70ff7

(555)

on April 22, 2012
at 09:34 PM

Fantastic question - strange how we view lithium as a drug and not a trace mineral

8e3782b68e033763485472f414f507a5

(2433)

on April 09, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Great question. Thank god everyone isn't like Matt.

E4f858a9178422502c42b9719690e52c

(603)

on April 09, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Good 7Up fact! The weight gain is at pharmaceutical levels though, hundreds of times more than that in food/water, which can cause all sorts of problems.

535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

(720)

on April 01, 2012
at 11:13 AM

I can't add anything useful but I am glad you posted this, orust. Water in Perth, Australia is heavily fluoridated and chlorinated and thus I try to get most of my water from the filter at work.. which removes all the trace minerals too. Adding trace minerals back in somehow just seems like an easy thing to do to try mimic the nutrition we would have received in the past times.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 01, 2012
at 01:30 AM

Seems like obsessive, excessive hacking to me.

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2 Answers

4
870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 09, 2012
at 03:04 PM

Here's a fun fact: lithium citrate was one of the original ingredients of 7Up (much like the cocaine in Cola-Cola). All American beverage makers were required to remove lithium from their products in 1948.

A less fun fact: lithium causes weight gain. Well-documented, here's a study, not necessarily the best one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22316639

E4f858a9178422502c42b9719690e52c

(603)

on April 09, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Good 7Up fact! The weight gain is at pharmaceutical levels though, hundreds of times more than that in food/water, which can cause all sorts of problems.

3
3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

on April 09, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Lithium as a trace element in the diet is, IMHO, overlooked. Interestingly, lithium increases the impact of iodine on the thyroid, something to beware when supplementing both. Lithium causes some hypothyroidism (particularly at high levels). Some papers have even cautioned the synergism of both elements (since iodine, inappropriately applied, can also end up causing thyroid wackiness). I am having to cut back my iodine intake as a result.

I am experimenting with low levels of lithium via lithium orotate - each tablet having roughly 5mg of elemental lithium. Not for treating anything psychiatric, nor attempting levels considered "thereupeutic" in a psychiatric sense - since those are not only high levels, but there is a cliff into dangerous toxicity not far beyond.

Its hard to judge the effect on me, since I started one other supplement at the same time, and between the two of them, I like the effect.

I highly recommend people do heavy research on how others supplement lithium, before doing it themselves. Avoid going near "psychiatrically thereupeutic" levels unless you are working under the knowledge and advice of a doctor, and in any event consider consulting one.

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