Lithium is found ubiquitously throughout nature and even the universe. Astrological records show that trace materials of lithium were present at the birth of the universe and scattered through the stars after the big bang.1 Just like sodium and potassium, lithium is a mineral electrolyte that is beneficial to human health. While lithium is available in small amounts through dietary sources, lithium orotate supplementation is a form of alternative medicine for improving the functions of the brain and countering the effects of stress in modern life.
What is Lithium Orotate?Lithium orotate is a salt that has been used since the early 1900s to treat manic conditions and ameliorate symptoms of bipolar disorder. A little-known fact about the popular soda 7-Up is that its original recipe included lithium for a feel-good effect that brought customers back for more.2 Studies have shown that doses of lithium are essential for the human body to properly transport and use folate vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 is required for important bodily processes, most notably the production of cellular energy. Low doses of lithium also play an important role in promoting the activities of nerve growth factors that work to repair and regulate brain cells. Finally, lithium also functions as an antioxidant that protects the brain and tissues from damage by free radicals and is an effective neuroprotector. Low doses of lithium have also been effective at protecting the brain from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Since lithium carbonate was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1950s, lithium has been prescribed for effectively treating eating disorders, schizophrenia, depression, impulsiveness, and other mental conditions. Lithium counters the activity of protein kinase C (PKC) which has been associated with these conditions. It has also been used to treat alcoholism, herpes, headaches and thyroid disease. Lithium orotate is the salt form of this metallic compound and has seen much use as an over-the-counter supplement. The reason behind lithium orotate as a supplement is that lithium requires a transporter molecule to deliver its benefits to the body.3 The orotate acid constituent provides this delivery system. Smaller amounts of lithium orotate are needed than lithium carbonate to achieve ideal brain concentrations. It is interesting to know that lithium orotate is the lithium structure found naturally in breastmilk, the first nourishment the body receives.4
Health Benefits of Lithium Orotate
Supports A Healthy Response to StressStress is a result of the body adjusting its functions to meet a sudden challenge presented by our environment and lifestyles. Thousands of years ago this allowed our ancestors to perform great feats of strength, endurance, and creativity when escaping predators and surviving. Even though the stress response is still functional, it has been misappropriated and often causes more harm than good. Conditions of prolonged stress are not sustainable and can soon weaken physical effort and compromise smooth mental function. Studies have found that lithium in the diet promotes balanced brain function and has a greater resistance to agitation and the mental anguish that can endure. Those with balanced levels of lithium in their system are generally happier.5
Boosts Brain HealthBrain health is dependent on a healthy supply of energy, plenty of oxygen, and neurons in excellent function. Lithium addresses the healthy brain on all of these fronts. Lithium is a potent antioxidant that keeps the blood vessels healthy and improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients for brain function. Lithium greatly improves energy production within brain cells that allows them to regenerate and function properly. Finally, lithium upregulates brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and nerve growth factors (NGF) while stimulating the production of stem cells. This allows the brain to repair and maintain itself and produce the gray matter needed for enhanced cognitive function.6
Offers Neuroprotection from ToxinsLithium offers a few protective features for the brain. First, it upregulates a protein that is crucial to cytoprotection, which is how a cell protects its vital functions from toxins and other damage. Furthermore, the presence of increased levels of BDNF ensures that maintenance is high and repairs are underway promptly. Additionally, lithium works as an antioxidant that protects the brain from free radicals, the harmful byproduct of energy production.7
Relieves HeadachesA brain that is being kept properly energized and supplied with the oxygen and chemical communicators required for smooth function is less susceptible to burnout and headaches. Due to its considerable role in mental functioning, lithium orotate supplementation has been found highly effective at ameliorating the conditions of headaches, including the notorious migraines.8
Promotes Anti-Aging & LongevityWith age and use, there will inevitably be some natural wear and tear on the brain. When kept properly energized and resourced, the brain is capable of regenerating brain cells and maintaining stored memory and full functionality. Lithium plays an important role in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and even has implications toward increased longevity. Lithium orotate has the antioxidants to counteract the damage of free radicals in the brain and body and plays a role in living longer, healthier lives.9
Supports Bone HealthLonger lives are nice, but only if you have the physical and mental capacity to feel good and be active. Lithium has also been found to promote the resilience of bone matter and reduce the risk of fractures.10 If you are interested in the benefits of lithium orotate but apprehensive about supplementation, you will be happy to know there are several foods that contain trace elements of this mineral. Some foods that contain lithium include:11
- Garbanzo beans
- Green peas
- Seeds and nuts
- Brown rice
Risks and Precautions for Lithium Orotate SupplementationDepending on the amount taken, lithium will provide different effects. This is an important factor to keep in mind when considering lithium supplementation. For best results speak to an experienced nutritionist and keep the following considerations in mind.
Avoid MisuseLithium orotate has not been reviewed as extensively as other lithium treatments so extreme caution is advised. Some of the side effects of overuse include: