This article is not medical or professional advice and is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen or combining a supplement with other medications.
Are you struggling with mood fluctuations and finding it challenging to achieve stability or peace in your life? You’re not alone. Millions of people grapple with acute or chronic depression, anxiety, and mood swings stemming from unresolved pain, trauma, challenging life events, or even genetic factors. Fortunately, there is a remarkable mineral that may help maintain emotional balance without the unwanted side effects linked to some other treatments. In this post, we’ll explore how this naturally occurring essential mineral, found as a trace element in food, could foster a stable mood and restore harmony to your life.
What is Lithium?
Lithium, an element dating back to the Big Bang, plays a fascinating and complex role in biology, medicine, and nutrition. Essential for life but toxic in excess, it’s primarily used to treat bipolar disorder. Interestingly, our bodies don’t regulate lithium concentrations as they do for other essential ions. This mysterious element exerts its effects by competing with ions like sodium and magnesium for binding sites. Researchers are striving to better understand lithium’s interactions in order to enhance our knowledge of its roles in biology and potentially expand its applications in medicine and nutrition. (1)
What is Lithium Orotate?
Lithium Orotate is a supplement that combines Lithium with Orotic acid, a naturally occurring compound in the body that plays a role in the synthesis of nucleic acids and the formation of certain vitamins. It is often used to enhance the absorption of minerals in dietary supplements.
Lithium Orotate was initially researched in the 1970s but not brought to market due to concerns over renal toxicity. However, the injected doses used in those studies were significantly higher compared to the doses found in today’s supplements. (2)
In contrast, Lithium Carbonate is a psychiatric medication with serious renal toxicity concerns, necessitating kidney monitoring during treatment.
Lithium Orotate supplements contain a much lower amount of elemental lithium compared to prescription lithium carbonate. In fact, prescription lithium drugs are over 30 times higher in dose than Lithium Orotate’s standard dosage of 5mg. Even low-dose lithium carbonate, which still requires a prescription, is 6-10 times higher in dose than lithium orotate 5mg supplements.
The body absorbs Lithium Orotate more efficiently, facilitating transport through the blood-brain barrier and into brain cells. This increased bioavailability results in a lower risk of toxicity and serious side effects compared to the larger doses of Lithium Carbonate, making it a potentially safer alternative for supporting emotional and mental well-being.
How does Lithium work in the brain?
Lithium is a powerful ally in promoting brain health and stabilizing mood. It works by affecting various neurotransmitters in the brain, like glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin, which are essential for mood regulation, learning, and memory.
Lithium helps to balance and control glutamate activity, preventing excessive excitatory neurotransmission that could negatively affect mood. It also keeps dopamine levels steady by reducing fluctuations in receptor sensitivity, which is particularly beneficial for those with mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders.
Additionally, lithium enhances the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps stabilize mood and counteract excessive brain activity. Though the exact process remains unclear, lithium is believed to regulate serotonin neurotransmission, which plays a crucial role in maintaining emotional well-being.
On top of these neurotransmitter-related actions, lithium boosts the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein vital for the development and survival of new brain cells and connections. By increasing BDNF levels, lithium supports neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and change in response to stimuli.
Lastly, lithium influences intracellular signaling pathways, such as glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), phosphoinositide, and adenylate cyclase. These pathways help modulate neurotransmission and dampen excessive excitatory activity.
In summary, lithium’s effects on neurotransmitters, BDNF production, and intracellular pathways contribute to its mood-stabilizing abilities and make it an effective treatment for bipolar disorder and other mood disorders while supporting overall brain health.
What dose of Lithium Orotate is best?
The optimal dose of Lithium Orotate varies depending on individual needs, so it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements or medications for mental health issues. Lithium Orotate supplementation is not recommended for those under 18 unless prescribed and supervised by a doctor. It might be best to take it at night before bed, as it can cause mild drowsiness. With a half-life (the time for half to be eliminated) of 18 to 36 hours in adults, lithium’s beneficial effects generally last for 24 hours, ensuring efficacy until the next daily dose.
Generally speaking, most people with mild mood swings, stress, anxiety and depression take between 1mg and 5mg per day and this is the recommended dose for use as a supplement. It is important to start low to gauge your body’s response. For more serious conditions, always consult with your doctor or psychiatrist first.
People with bipolar disorder have taken up to 40mg but this requires medical supervision, as it comes with higher risk and your doctor or psychiatrist may need you to undergo regular testing to avoid adverse outcomes.
It is also important to never take this supplement with other medications or supplements without first consulting with your doctor or psychiatrist. There is a risk of serotonin syndrome occurring if combined with other serotonergic drugs, for example antidepressants (SSRIs or MAOIs) or supplements such as 5-HTP, L-Tryptophan or St Johns Wort.
Lithium Orotate is a low-dose supplement that has been both anecdotally reported and in some cases researched for its potential in treating mood swings, bipolar disorders, anxiety, depression, and stress, among others. This form of lithium impacts a range of neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially improving cognitive functions like concentration and focus. By balancing glutamate, serotonin and dopamine levels, it may contribute to greater stability in managing these disorders.
It is important to remember that individuals may experience side effects when supplementing with Lithium Orotate, as everyone responds differently to supplements and medications. Another supplement, Lithium Aspartate, may also be effective, but it has not been as extensively researched or tested as Lithium Orotate.
If you are considering incorporating Lithium Orotate into your treatment plan, always consult with your doctor first. They can assess your individual needs based on your medical history and current medication usage, ensuring a safe and appropriate regimen involving Lithium Orotate supplementation.