Hair appears to be a reliable indicator of lithium status. A direct association was observed between hair lithium and cobalt concentrations, suggesting a role for lithium in the transport and distribution of vitamin B12. Hair lithium levels increase in response to supplementation, but lithium is a marker only in some subjects. It may be that certain behavioural defects, depression, and learning disabilities are caused, or aggravated, by low nutritional lithium intake coupled with marginal deficiencies of B12 and folic acid, whose transport is also modulated by lithium. This is trace element required to modulate nerve transmission throughout the central nervous system. It generally has a calming effect. Lithium deficiency is very common and underrecognized and may be easily corrected by low-dose supplementary lithium orotate. This should not be confused with the high-dose pharmacological lithium carbonate that is prescribed for patients with Bipolar Disorder.
Sources Of Lithium
→ Small amounts are found in a wide variety of foods
→ Lubricating grease
→ Ceramics and glass
→ Used in medication to treat bipolar disorder
Functions Of Lithium
→ Decreases manic symptoms in manic-depressive patients
→ May modulate the conversion of essential fatty acids into prostaglandins
→ May stabilize serotonin transmission
→ Anti-aggressive action
Roles In The Body
→ Research by Frazier found that those patients who were helped by lithium experienced increased uptake of sodium through their cell membranes.
→ According to Sheard, lithium can replace sodium in the cells, and its structure resembles calcium and magnesium. It appears to have the same stabilizing effect on nervous cells as calcium and magnesium.
Hair Analysis Notes
→ Lithium appears to lower sodium levels. This would correlate with the research by A. Frazier.
→ The meaning of hair lithium levels is a topic of research.
Indications For Supplementation
Aggressive behavior, manic-depression and some cases of depression.
Lithium (Li) is normally found in hair at very low levels. Hair Li correlates with high dosage of Li carbonate in patients treated for Affective Disorders. However, the clinical significance of low hair Li levels is not certain at this time. Thus, hair Li is measured primarily for research purposes. Anecdotally, clinical feedback suggests that low level Li supplementation may have some beneficial effects in patients with behavioral/emotional disorders. Li occurs almost universally in water and in the diet; excess Li is rapidly excreted in urine.
Li at low levels may have essential functions in humans. Intracellularly, Li inhibits the conversion of phosphorylated inositol to free inositol. In the nervous system this moderates neuronal excitability. Li also influences monamine neurotransmitter concentrations at the synapse (this function is increased when Li is used therapeutically for mania or bipolar illness).
A confirmatory test for low Li is measurement of Li in blood serum/plasma.
Please note that, even if your hair lithium levels exceed the stated reference range, this may not necessarily be abnormal. The optimal level of lithium in hair has not been clinically determined and may be as high as 0.1 – 0.3 mg%. Results in excess of 0.3 mg%, that cannot be explained by the use of either supplementary or prescription lithium, must be further investigated.
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