The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 16 No. 11 • December 2013


LITHIUM AS AN ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT

A 2012 paper1 provided detailed information on the presence of lithium in drinking water and vegetation and on its essentiality in a large number of animal and human studies.

The review reported that there is a wide variation in the amount of lithium found in drinking water, spring water, spa water and bottled water. One study of 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries found lithium concentrations ranging over 5 orders of magnitude (from 0.057 to 5,460 μg/l. “Li concentrations of 8.7 mg/l and of >9 mg/l have been reported for the Friedrich-Quelle, a famous spring in Baden-Baden/Germany, and for the spa water in Pompeya/Argentina, respectively.”1

“The long-term consumption of low-Li drinking water is regarded as a risk factor for higher incidences of suicides, homicides, and crimes as shown in several studies. For example, in 24 counties in Texas/USA with a total population of 6 million (>60% of the state population), during a 2-year study (1967–1969), a significantly inverse relationship between (1) Li concentration of local drinking water, (2) Li concentrations of the urine among the respective residents, and (3) mean annual rainfall amounts in the respective county sites and (1) state mental hospital admission rates, (2) admitting rates for four major mental disorders (psychosis, neurosis, schizophrenia, personality problems), (3) homicide rates, and (4) road distance from resident county to nearest state mental hospital was found (p<–0.05 to <–0.001). The Li levels in drinking water were classified into 4 groups: <11.0; 11.0–29.9, 30.0–69.9; >70.0 μg/l.”1

A second study reported in the review1 included 27 counties and lasted for 10 years (1978–1987) and found that that the incidence rates of suicide, homicide, and rape were significantly higher in counties whose drinking water contained low (0–12 μg/l) and medium (13–60 μg/l) lithium concentrations than in counties whose drinking water had high Li concentrations (79–160 μg/l)(p<0.01). They also found associations with the rates of robbery, burglary, and theft significant at p<0.05. These are really remarkable differences that suggest improved mental function with low dose lithium.

On the basis of these and many other studies, the basic requirement of lithium in humans has been assessed at 1 μg/kg body weight/d in humans derived from intake data in Germany, thus, the lithium requirement for an adult of 70 kg body weight would be 70 μg/d. In another assessment study, Schrauzer suggested a provisional recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 1 mg. lithium/day for an adult of 70 kg body weight.2

References

  1. Schafer. Evaluation of beneficial and adverse effects on plants and animals following lithium deficiency and supplementation, and on humans following lithium treatment of mood disorders. Trace Elem Electrolytes. 29(2):91-112 (2012).
  2. Schrauzer. Lithium: occurrence, dietary intakes, nutritional essentiality. J Am Coll. Nutr. 21:14-21 (2002).

[Also see “Maintain your Brain the Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw Way Part III: Lithium as a Brain Food” in the May 2004 issue of Life Enhancement.]

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