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Fountain of youth from the tap
demonstrate that environmental lithium
uptake promotes longevity
(Jena, Germany) February 21, 2011--
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
The research team presents its results in
the online edition of the scientific
publication European Journal of Nutrition which
is now online (see hyperlink below).
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
"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
In a collaborative effort with Japanese
colleagues, the Jena scientists analyzed the
mortality rate in 18 adjacent Japanese
municipalities in relation to the amount of
lithium contained in tap water from the
"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.
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 still
remain to be clarified, the scientists
assume that the higher longevity they
observed in humans as well as in nematodes C.
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 on the basis
of the new data is clearly thought to be
beneficial, more studies will be necessary
to thoroughly recommend such a
supplementation, the scientists conclude.