New research shows that trace elements of lithium in drinking water may slow down death rates from Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, rates of diabetes and obesity also decrease if there is lithium in the drinking water. Usually when one hears about something in the drinking water it is in regard to fluoride or lead. For example see the post talking about how if fluoride in drinking water lowers intelligence at http://blog.teethremoval.com/fluoride-in-water-does-not-lower-intelligence/. Lead in drinking water was a problem for example in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
The researchers in this study collected statistics on various lithium levels in drinking water in 234 counties in the state of Texas. Texas was used for the data on lithium levels because the researchers said it was freely available. Lithium is a water-soluble alkali metal found in mineral springs and igneous rocks. Lithium is often used to treat bipolar and other mood disorders but of course at much higher doses than one would find present in drinking water. The research team compared lithium levels naturally found in tap water with Alzheimer’s disease mortality rates, the incidence of obesity, and the incidence of diabetes.
They found Texas counties that had above the median level of lithium in tap water (40 micrograms per litre) experienced less increases in Alzheimer’s disease death over time. They also found Texas counties below the median level of lithium in tap water had even higher increases in Alzheimer’s disease deaths over time. The frequency of obesity and Type 2 diabetes was found to go down when the drinking water contained similar lithium levels.
Previous studies have demonstrated lithium’s ability to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, this research showed lithium’s potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and diabetes may translate to the population setting through very low levels of lithium in tap water. An earlier study in 2017 from the University of Copenhagen linked high lithium levels in drinking water to decreases in dementia rates. So both of these studies combine may make one ask the question if lithium should be added to the drinking water. The researchers feel that it is too early to start advising authorities to add lithium to drinking water. Additional research must be conducted in order to convince policy-makers to look at the evidence and want to start supplementing tap water with lithium the same way as is often done with fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Of course beginning to quantify the amount of lithium more specifically to add to drinking water would be part of the additional research needed.
Source: Val Andrew Fajardo and et al., Examining the Relationship between Trace Lithium in Drinking Water and the Rising Rates of Age-Adjusted Alzheimer’s Disease Mortality in Texas, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 61, issue 1,2017.