Could Lithium Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease? Interview with:

Val Andrew Fajardo, PhD. NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow | Centre for Bone and Muscle Health Brock University | Department of Health Sciences St. Catharines, ON, Canada 

Dr. Fajardo

Val Andrew Fajardo, PhD.
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow | Centre for Bone and Muscle Health
Brock University | Department of Health Sciences
St. Catharines, ON, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Lithium is best known for its role as a mood stabilizer, and several ecological studies across a number of different regions have shown that trace levels of lithium in tap water can exert its mood stabilizing effect and reduce rates of suicide, crime, and homicide.

The results from our study show that these trace levels of lithium could also potentially protect against Alzheimer’s disease.  These findings are actually supported by several years of research using pre-clinical and clinical models to demonstrate low-dose lithium’s neuroprotective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we also found that trace lithium in tap water may potentially protect against obesity and diabetes – an effect that is also supported with previous literature.  In fact, some of the earlier reports of lithium’s effect of increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism were first published in the 1920s.  Finally, we found that trace lithium’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease may be partly mediated by its effect on obesity and diabetes.

My collaborator Dr. Rebecca MacPherson who is an expert on Alzheimer’s disease as a metabolic disorder explains that this effect is in support of recent research demonstrating that obesity and diabetes are important risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  So interventions aiming to reduce obesity and diabetes such as physical activity can go a long way in lowering risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is also something we present in our study. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: The amount of lithium found in tap water is well below the levels used to typically treat a patient with bipolar disorder. So what is impressive about this study is that we are showing that these trace levels of lithium found naturally in tap water can potentially provide these health benefits towards combating obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.   However, this is certainly just the beginning and many more studies are required to solidify these effects. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Similar to trace lithium’s effect on mental health, other researchers across the globe with access to relevant databases should perform studies determining whether trace levels of lithium can protect against Alzheimer’s disease.  Moving forward from these associative studies, large clinical intervention trials are required to assess the cause-and-effect.  In collaboration with Dr. Rebecca MacPherson, we will be further examining the molecular mechanisms underpinning trace lithium’s role in combating obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-associated disorders, as these studies can add further insight as to how low dose lithium exerts these positive health effects. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(1):425-434. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170744.

Examining the Relationship between Trace Lithium in Drinking Water and the Rising Rates of Age-Adjusted Alzheimer’s Disease Mortality in Texas.

Fajardo VA1,2, Fajardo VA3, LeBlanc PJ1,2, MacPherson REK1,4.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on December 7, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD