Why You Need Them In Your Diet
Bipolar Disorder-Top 10 Foods That Help
December 28, 2009, last updated May 20, 2014
By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor
and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and
other members of our Editorial Board.]
What is Lithium?
Lithium is an element found in nature, such as calcium or
potassium. Lithium is a natural-occurring soft metal found in
the layers of rock and soil on the earth. Scientists believe
that lithium was one of the first elements in the universe,
formed at the moment of the Big Bang.
Lithium is in fact everywhere. Lithium exists in our soil, in
varying degrees around the world, and in our water supply.
Our water absorbs lithium when it comes into contact with
lithium-rich soil in river beds, streams and underground
aquifers. Because our food is grown in soil and uses water
to grow, lithium also occurs naturally in our food supply.
Animal-based foods and plants vary in their ability to absorb
and retain lithium.
Why Do We Need Lithium In Our Diets?
Lithium’s nutritional importance as a trace element has long
been suspected by researchers. Several research studies
have confirmed that link between high levels of lithium in tap
water and low incidences of suicides, admissions to mental
hospitals, murders and rapes.
In 1971, a Texas biochemist named Dr. Earl Dawson noticed
that the murder and suicide rates around El Paso were
significantly lower than the rest of the state. After
investigation, he discovered that the lower rates of suicide,
murder and admissions to mental hospitals were linked to
the high levels of lithium found in El Paso’s water supply.
Other research studies from around the world reached
similar results. A study from the University of Oita in Japan
found that low lithium levels were associated with increases
in rates of suicide and depression. The researchers
examined the natural lithium levels in the tap water of 18
communities south of Japan. They then examined the suicide
rates in the 18 communities. They found that suicide rates
were lowest in those areas with the highest concentrations
of lithium in their tap water. As they concluded, “Our study
suggests that very low levels of lithium in drinking water can
lower the risk of suicide. Very low levels may possess an anti-
Lithium was once used as a key ingredient in a soft drink
invented in 1929 by Charles Leipe Grigg, an American from
Price Branch, Missouri. He initially called his drink “Bib-Label
Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas”. He later changed the name to
” 7 Up Lithiated Lemon-Lime” .
The “7” in the name comes from the number 7, which is the
atomic mass of lithium. He called his drink 7-Up, presumably
because of the mysterious ability of lithium to elevate the
mood. Later, lithium was removed from the manufacturing
process and “lithiated from the name of the soda, but the “7
-Up” part of the name stuck.
Lithium May Help Alzheimer’s
Three research studies in 1999 and 2000 from Wayne State
University of Medicine found that low levels of lithium used
to treat manic depression were also effective in protecting
the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. A key protein needed
to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s is Bc1-2 (related to
the B-cell lymphoma/ leukemia-2 gene). Lithium is the first
substance found to increase the concentration of Bc1-2 in
Alzheimer’s is characterized by the existence of
neurofibrillary “tangles” in the brain. These tangles are
enabled by a destructive protein called glycogen synthase
kinase 3b (GSK-3b). Lithium has been found to decrease the
supply of destructive GSK-3b in brain tissue.
The Wayne State researchers also found that the gray matter
of patients treated with lithium over time grew by
approximately 3%, regenerating even after loss of brain cells
due to injury or disease. (Read more about the ideal diet to
fight Alzheimer’s disease.)
And in 2011, scientists from Germany and Japan published a
report (“Low-dose lithium uptake promotes longevity in
humans and metazoans”) which makes the case that
populations exposed to lithium in their water actually end up
Animal-derived foods contain more lithium than plant foods,
as a general matter. Eggs and milk contain the highest
concentrations of lithium. Among plants, lithium is retained
most easily in foods of the nightshade family of plants, which
include tomatoes and cucumbers and mushrooms. Seaweed
and kelp often contain high levels of lithium.
Food Lithium Content (micrograms per kg )
Soft Cheese 2276
Red Cabbage 3579
White Cabbage 1874
Black Tea 3737
Instant Soups 2513
Wheat Flour 905
Toasted Bread 819
Vanilla Pudding 639
Bread Rolls 317
Red Wine 329
White Wine 305