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Lithium Supplement Information & Facts

Lithium is a naturally occurring element that is present in the body in trace amounts. The element is found naturally in soil and water, and may even be available in some fruits and vegetables. It is usually found in plant products. Animal products are a very poor source of lithium. Ideally, only about 100 to 800 mg of lithium should be consumed every day.

However, since most plant products contain only trace amounts of lithium, a lot of times this requirement remains unmet. In such a case, the person may have to resort to consuming lithium supplements.

As a supplement, lithium is usually available in the form of lithium carbonate. Lithium supplements are usually used for the treatment of mental and mood disorders. In those who suffer from bipolar disorders, lithium supplements can be used for controlling manic stages of the condition. However, it is important to ensure that you consume the supplements only on the prescription of a doctor as overusing lithium supplements could lead to toxicity and severe side effects.


  • Even the minutest amounts of lithium are vital for maintaining optimal health.
  • Nutritionists and health experts claim that meeting the nutritional requirements of lithium is vital for maintaining healthy cellular functioning.
  • This is also vital for maintaining healthy cellular interactions in the body.

Lithium Supplement Benefits

Some of the benefits of lithium supplements include:

  • Controlling metabolism of glucose and maintaining healthy glucose levels in the blood.
  • Regulating the production of the mood enhancing chemical called serotonin in the brain.
  • Preventing the formation of kidney stones by dissolving uric acid deposits and crystals in the blood.
  • Improving the transmission of messages through the neurons, therefore improving the efficiency of the nervous system.
  • Improving the absorption of salts in the body.
  • Assistance in the absorption of vital nutrients such as vitamin B12 and folates in the body.

Lithium natural supplement is available in the form of mineral baths and spa treatments using mineralized water. This has been in practice since the late 1800s, when water with high concentrations of lithium was used to rejuvenate the body. Also known as mineral bath, these baths were extremely popular due to their immediate health benefits.

Today, apart from these natural supplements, lithium is also available as lithium mineral supplement and lithium supplement powder. These supplements are usually recommended by doctors to combat mania and soothe anxiety. Those who suffer from high levels of anxiety and panic attacks may be prescribed lithium supplements.

Lithium Supplement And Health

There are a lot of dietary studies which show that lithium and lithium supplements can be really beneficial for various health conditions. Some of the most popular health benefits of lithium supplements include the following.

  • Fighting depression: By enhancing the neurotransmission throughout the body, lithium supplements can improve feelings of depression and overall moodiness.
  • ADHD: The improved nervous system functioning and the production of increased levels of dopamine and serotonin also improves symptoms of ADHD in children suffering from this condition.
  • Bipolar disorder: Lithium supplements can help reduce the manic phase of bipolar disorder. The supplements also reduce the severity of the manic phase, successfully normalizing the phase and prolonging normalcy.
  • Gout: Bathing with water enriched with lithium and other minerals can help control the pain caused by gout. Though based largely on anecdotal evidence, it is believed that mineral waters were used at one point of time to treat many ailments, including gout, arthritis and many other such conditions.
  • Reducing alcohol dependence: Though there is not a lot of evidence of this, some studies suggest that there may be a possible relationship between lithium supplements and reducing alcohol dependence.
  • Blood cell disorders: There is some evidence of lithium supplements for the treatment of blood cell disorders.
  • Low doses of lithium can help lower the tendency to have violent thoughts and behaviors.

Though there are some claims that lithium supplements can help increase energy levels, normalize thyroid hormones, and expedite weight loss, research has shown that these claims are baseless. In fact, lithium supplements have been associated with a slow but steady weight gain in those consuming the supplements for depression. Regular use of lithium supplements may also cause a disruption in the production of thyroid hormones, therefore causing a lot of complications.

Lithium Supplement Dosage

In the recent researches performed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, no medication has been able to trump the effects of lithium supplements. However, even though lithium supplements can successfully reduce the manic phase and prolong normalcy in the life of those suffering from bipolar disorder, there are some side effects to the supplements if they are not consumed in the recommended dosages.

Apart from mania and bipolar disorder, lithium supplements are also prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia. However, the dosages should only be prescribed by the doctor. There is no single recommended dosage for this supplement, as different people would require different amounts of the supplement based on their requirements and their health profile.

Doctors may have to prescribe very low doses of lithium and then increase the dose gradually as there is a very thin line between an appropriate lithium dosage and toxicity. The minimum dose prescribed is usually 100 mg. Since the medication is available only on the prescription of a doctor, it is difficult to self-medicate. The doctors usually perform regular blood tests after prescribing the supplement in order to maintain a healthy balance and ensure that the dosage prescribed is effective in the appropriate manner.

A diet which is rich in foods that contain lithium is usually better for meeting the biological requirements of lithium that taking lithium supplements. Lithium rich foods are known to reduce the feelings of anger, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. There are no known of side effects of consuming foods rich in lithium. However, there are a lot of benefits and therefore most physicians recommend consuming a diet which is naturally rich in lithium.

Along with a healthy diet rich in lithium, you can consume supplements that contain trace amounts of lithium. This will help you create a balanced supplemental formula for your body.

Lithium Supplement Side Effects

Lithium is a therapeutic element. However it is required only in trace amounts by the body. If you are unable to meet this basic requirement of consuming the element in limited quantities, it may cause considerable side effects, possibly leading to lithium toxicity in the body.

There are no noted side effects when lithium supplementation is at very low levels. A dosage of about 2 mg daily can be ideal if there is a possibility of developing lithium toxicity. Though lithium may seem to be safe for almost all the people who consume the supplements, supplements such as lithium carbonate and lithium citrate may cause toxicity. Though these supplements have been approved by the FDA, it is best to use them only on the prescription of doctors.

Here are some of the possible side effects of these supplements:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness, disorientation and confusion
  • Muscle weakness, joint pain, fatigue
  • Dazed feeling and numbness in various parts of the body
  • Slight tremors
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weight gain and edema
  • Swelling of various parts of the body
  • Water retention in the body
  • Breakout of pimples, acne and sores
  • Psoriasis
  • Breakout of rashes

Lithium dosages should be carefully controlled as the side effects of the supplements range from mild to severe. Pregnant women should also not be prescribed lithium supplements unless the supplementation benefits outweigh the possible risks to the child. As long as there is careful monitoring, the doctor may keep prescribing the supplements to patients. However, treatment with lithium supplements is highly unsafe for breastfeeding women and may cause toxicity as well as complicated side effects in the nursing infants.

Continued high doses of lithium have also shown adverse effects on the heart and the circulatory system. Lithium causes irregularities in the heart beat and the heart rhythms. This can especially be a problem for those who have preexisting heart conditions.

Kidney disease is another possible side effect of lithium supplements. Since lithium accumulates in the blood and is removed by the kidneys, lithium may eventually affect the kidneys and cause damage. For those with preexisting kidney disease and infections, the amount of lithium recommended is very low.

Lithium supplements are also not recommended for those who have recently received any kind of major surgery. Lithium is known to affect the production of the chemical serotonin in the brain. This chemical, produced in the central nervous system, can interfere with different surgical procedures and subsequent tests which care required for monitoring the patient’s condition. Serotonin may also interfere with surgical procedures which require anesthesia and other similar sedatives and drugs. Doctors usually recommend patients to reduce the lithium dosage or give up the supplementation completely before a surgery is scheduled.

Another potentially dangerous side effect of lithium supplements is the worsening of disorders related to thyroid gland. Lithium supplements may cause the thyroid gland to be unable to produce hormones normally, therefore causing complications or worsening preexisting thyroid conditions.

Submitted on January 16, 2014