Lithium is commonly used as a medication to treat mood disorders, such as the manic behavior associated with someone who is bipolar. Many people commonly assume that a person taking lithium must have a serious mental problem because of this association. Lithium, however, is not used only as a medication. It is an element that occurs in many foods and water sources and assists the body with necessary functions. It is frequently taken as a dietary supplement along with other minerals and vitamins that are also necessary for good health.
There are a number of benefits in taking a lithium supplement. This mineral can help control the metabolism of glucose in the body, and it assists in dissolving uric acid in the kidneys. It also helps in controlling serotonin levels in the brain, which is why it has a mood-stabilizing effect. When taken on a regular basis, a lithium supplement may be of help to people who have mood swings or depression.
Taking a lithium supplement in small doses, less than 2 milligrams (mg) per day, has not been reported to have any negative side effects. This level is comparable to the levels of lithium exposure to those living in areas where it is prevalent in the soil and water. The body may use salt faster in the presence of a lithium supplement, so it is advisable to be sure salt levels are adequate.
Therapeutic doses of lithium can have many side effects, but this is due to the large amount of this element that is taken when it is used as a medication. A common oral dosage is 300 to 600 mg per day, typically to treat mania. A dosage this high can have serious side effects such as dizziness and the loss of a significant amount of salt and body fluids. It may also cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in some cases. People on dosages such as these usually need to be monitored by a doctor.
A person who wishes to add lithium to his or her diet can find a lithium supplement included as part of a more complete vitamin and mineral supplement. This makes it easy to include this element when taking a daily vitamin pill. Many people report that adding this essential mineral to their normal routine helps them in many ways. Studies have also shown that a lithium supplement can have a stabilizing, calming effect on the people who take it. Since lithium overdose is possible, it is important to keep the daily intake under 2 mg, which virtually eliminates overdose and side effect concerns.