The Role of Lithium In Brain Health

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gray matter brain healthLuckily, I have only one known epigenetic marker for Alzheimer’s Disease. Why do I say that I am lucky? My grandma had dementia and my mom was finally diagnosed with early onset dementia in her 50’s, but by that time she was deep in the throws of dementia.

Thankfully, I have worked to keep my food choices, exercise routines, environment, and my thought patterns in harmony with my genes. I am looking forward to being able to write a new article saying I don’t have any negative expression of the Alzheimer’s genes.

While we don’t know all the genes involved with Alzheimer’s, we do know some very important ones.

The gene that expresses for me has to do with shrinkage of the gray matter of my brain, which could result in late onset Alzheimer’s. For this, I turn to 2 things: adding in an additional (and easy) exercise routine and adding in a very important mineral to my diet.

I’ll talk about the mineral first because using a supplement is the easiest form of creating a happy brain. This mineral is lithium. Whenever I mention lithium to people, they tend to think of the controlled substance, Lithium, that treats mood disorders. Most people don’t realize that lithium is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil and seawater that has a very positive impact on the brain.

There are numerous studies pointing to the result of low dose lithium as being able to increase gray matter and protect the brain.

For example, a breakthrough study showed that gray and white brain matter increased after low lithium doses after 4 weeks. In conclusion, 4 weeks of lithium administration led to significant increases in gray matter volumes and total white matter volume.  The researchers concluded more research should be done to replicate the results.

If you read my article, “How Do You Handle Trauma And Your Childhood Experiences?” then you will find a tie in with Lithium. Early stress in life makes lasting changes in the brain that leads to a higher chance of depression later. Lithium was shown to alter the changes this early stress created.

Now, my second brain-enhancing trick is free. Studies have shown that walking for 3+ hours a week (outside is more effective than in a gym) has proven to increase your life, your brain and your intelligence. All I can say is that I just feel good once I am outside in nature. It’s a great time for me to practice mindfulness and walking meditation.

Before you put on your walking shoes and go out and buy lithium, know what lithium is right for you. Lithium needs a carrier so your body can absorb it. Lithium aspartate and orotate are the two most effective types of lithium. Aspartate is bound with an amino acid so people that are sensitive to Monosodium glutamate (MSG) would probably do better with Lithium aspartate. Take 50mg a day.

Regardless of what your epigenetics are saying right now, I think everyone should make these two simple additions to their daily life to ensure that their brain is protected from the onslaught of our modern world.

 

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