Lithium Provides Mental and Physical Benefits in Humans

Summary
Lithium is an element considered nutritionally essential and is ingested through consuming plant-derived food and drinking water. The effect of lithium on the lifespan of a group of people was assessed in this study. The same effect was observed on roundworms for a comparison study and to help quantify mortality. There was an inverse relation between lithium concentration and mortality in the 1,206,174 individuals that were included in the study. However, a low concentration of lithium seemed to increase the lifespan of the roundworms.

Introduction
Lithium is a nutritive trace element present in the tissues and the organs of the human body. It is also found in water in the body. There are no known diseases caused by a deficiency of lithium in humans. In fact, lithium is used in the treatment of certain psychiatric disorders. In one study, people who suffered suicide deaths were found to have reduced exposure to environmental lithium. The current study was done to assess the effects of environmental lithium exposure on the lifespan of people and the influence it has on the lifespan of roundworms as well. The roundworms served as the study model, as they are usually used as an anti-aging animal model.

Methodology
* The participants of this study were from the Oita prefecture in Japan in 2006. There were 1,206,174 participants distributed over 18 municipalities.
* Existing mortality rates of this population was accounted for and standardized based on age and gender.
* Lithium levels in the tap water supplies of each municipality were analyzed using highly sensitive methods.
* Roundworms were grown and subjected to a range of lithium concentrations.

Results
* The content of lithium in tap water was inversely related to the overall standardized mortality rates.
* It can thus be said that exposure to lithium brought down the overall mortality in the studied population.
* The mortality of roundworms exposed to a higher concentration of lithium was less, as compared to those exposed to a lower concentration of lithium.

Shortcomings/Next steps
The findings in this study are only observational and a causal link between the lithium levels and mortality cannot be practically established. The lithium concentrations used on the roundworms in the current study had less effects than was observed in other studies. Life-long studies on humans could help in establishing a link between lithium and mortality rates.

Conclusion
Low doses of lithium cause a decrease in the mortality rates in humans and the roundworm animal study model that was used. The level of lithium was inversely related to the mortality in both humans and the roundworms. Lithium was also found to lower suicide rates in another study by the same authors; it gives vital information on the effects of lithium. These findings have raised the point that readily available low-dose lithium supplementation in non-toxic doses may improve mental health as well as reduce potential suicide risks. The same dose of lithium may also reduce overall mortality in humans.

For More Information:
Low-Dose Lithium Uptake Promotes Longevity in Humans and Metazoans
Publication Journal: The European Journal of Nutrition, February 20011
By Kim Zarse, Takeshi Terao; University of Jena, Germany and Oita University, Japan

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.


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