Lithium from Water and Vegetables Improves Lifespan

Author: Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena
Published: 2011/02/18 - Updated: 2022/05/30
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Researchers demonstrated that even a low concentration of lithium in tap water leads to an increased life expectancy in humans. To find out if lithium has a life-prolonging impact at much lower concentrations, the scientists then examined the impact of lithium in a concentration that is regularly found in ordinary tap water. We found that the mortality rate was considerably lower in those municipalities with more lithium in the drinking water. From previous studies, we know already that a higher uptake of lithium through drinking water is associated with an improvement of psychological well-being and with decreased suicide rates.

Main Digest

Professor Dr. Michael Ristow's team along with Japanese colleagues from universities in Oita and Hiroshima have demonstrated by two independent approaches that even a low concentration of lithium leads to an increased life expectancy in humans as well as in a model organism, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. The research team presents its results in the online edition of the scientific publication European Journal of Nutrition which is now online.

Lithium is one of many nutritional trace elements and is ingested mainly through vegetables and drinking water.

"The scientific community doesn't know much about the physiological function of lithium", project manager Ristow says.

According to an earlier study from the US, highly concentrated lithium showed to be life-prolonging in C. elegans, the Professor of Nutrition in Jena continues.

"The dosage that has been analyzed back then, however, is clearly beyond the physiologically relevant range and may be poisonous for human beings", explains Ristow.

To find out if lithium has a life-prolonging impact at much lower concentrations, the scientists then examined the impact of lithium in a concentration that is regularly found in ordinary tap water.

In a collaborative effort with Japanese colleagues, the Jena scientists analyzed the mortality rate in 18 adjacent Japanese municipalities relating to the amount of lithium contained in tap water from the respective regions.

"We found that the mortality rate was considerably lower in those municipalities with more lithium in the drinking water", Ristow explains the key finding.

In a second experiment, the Jena scientists examined exactly this range of concentration in the model organism C. elegans. The result was confirmed:

"The average longevity of the worms is higher after they have been treated with lithium at this dosage", Ristow says.

Even though the underlying mechanisms remain to be clarified, the scientists assume that the higher longevity they observed in humans as well as in nematodes C. elegans can be induced by the trace element, lithium.

Moreover, the scientists speculate about using low-dose lithium as a potential dietary supplement in the future.

"From previous studies, we know already that a higher uptake of lithium through drinking water is associated with an improvement of psychological well-being and with decreased suicide rates", Professor Ristow explains.

While low-dose lithium uptake based on the new data is clearly thought to be beneficial, more studies will be necessary to thoroughly recommend such a supplementation, the scientists conclude.

Original Publication: Zarse K., Terao T., Tian J., Iwata N., Ishii N., Ristow M. Low-dose lithium uptake promotes longevity in humans and metazoans. Eur J Nutr 2011, DOI: 10.1007/s00394-011-0171-x

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This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Nutrition and Healthy Food section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Lithium from Water and Vegetables Improves Lifespan" was originally written by Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena, and submitted for publishing on 2011/02/18 (Edit Update: 2022/05/30). Should you require further information or clarification, Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena can be contacted at the uni-jena.de/en website. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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