Diabetes Prevention

This ‘Magic Ion’ in Your Tap Water Could Be Making You Happier

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what if i said that your drinking water contains 
an element that's used in batteries and that   it could also be affecting your mood sometimes 
referred to as the magic ion this element's name   is lithium and a recent review of decades of 
research has found that trace amounts of lithium   found in the tap could be stabilizing your mood 
and may even have the potential to reduce the risk   of suicide of all the elements lithium is one 
of the lightest this soft silvery white metal   occurs naturally in soil rocks and many foods it's 
also highly reactive particularly with water and   varying degrees of lithium can be found in 
surface water groundwater and seawater around   the world and not only is it valued for boosting 
the energy density of our batteries over the past   few decades lithium has gained recognition in 
the medical community for its powerful impacts   on mental health too in fact today lithium 
is a standard treatment for bipolar disorder   a mental illness categorized by dramatic mood 
swings of emotional highs and lows that affects   roughly 1 in 100 people worldwide lithium is 
also used when patients with depression don't   respond to other medications as it's recognized 
as an effective long-term management tool for   warding off hospital visits and suppressing 
suicide attempts unfortunately it can have   some pretty bad side effects like hand tremors 
and headaches when taken in high enough doses   but the dose is prescribed and the amount that you 
naturally get from the tap are very different used   medically a prescribed dose typically ranges from 
a couple hundred milligrams to over a thousand   by contrast the lithium levels found in a liter of 
drinking water typically measure anywhere between   a fraction of one microgram to 200 micrograms 
depending on the source but this incidental   exposure isn't necessarily insignificant over the 
past few decades studies have shown evidence of   a relationship between higher levels of lithium 
and drinking water and lower rates of depression   crime and even dementia in the general population 
some studies have even suggested an association   between higher lithium levels and lower rates 
of suicide but not every study has found similar   lengths and importantly no comprehensive effort 
has been made to connect all of this research   until now a recent study led by researchers from 
king's college london and sussex medical school   set out to synthesize all available evidence of 
the association between lithium and drinking water   and suicide rates in total the team identified 
415 articles spanning three decades comprising   data from over 1 000 regions counties and cities 
around the world the average concentration of   lithium in the water samples ranged from under 4 
to over 80 micrograms per liter by combining the   results of multiple studies the team was able to 
statistically analyze the data and search for a   link and a link emerged their analysis showed that 
areas with higher concentrations of lithium in   their public tap had correspondingly lower rates 
of suicide this is the first meta-analysis of its   kind so these findings are hugely encouraging 
still the team emphasizes that more work needs   to be done to explore this relationship they note 
that conducting randomized trials that supplement   the water supply with lithium would be a great 
place to start particularly in communities with   high prevalence in mental health conditions 
criminal behavior and substance misuse so how   exactly does this magic ion work its magic well 
we don't really know at least not exactly because   lithium is an ion it interacts with many different 
target cells in our body and results in a whole   host of side effects making it extremely difficult 
to pinpoint which interaction affects our mood   however we do know that lithium interacts with the 
brain's neurotransmitters the chemical messengers   that help our neurons communicate when in balance 
our billions of neurotransmitters expertly manage   virtually all of the body's tasks from our 
breathing to how we learn but if their levels   become out of sync health problems like depression 
and anxiety can arise by modulating the response   of our neurotransmitters lithium is thought to 
restore their proper functioning the prevailing   hypothesis is that lithium promotes inhibitory 
neurotransmission which regulates anxiety   while inhibiting excitatory neurotransmitters like 
dopamine and glutamate which are elevated during   mania not only does this recent analysis provide 
us with further incentive to unpack lithium's   effects on the body it offers us a chance to 
appreciate water's overall health benefits too   clean healthy drinking water contains all kinds 
of elements and minerals that are vital to human   health calcium and potassium just to name a few in 
fact water can help us meet up to 20 of our daily   dietary intake requirements for certain elements 
and simply staying hydrated can restore balance to   our neurotransmitters in our body and literally 
calm our nerves amazing to be clear i am not   suggesting that you drink raw water you know the 
kind that's unfiltered untreated and unsterilized   running the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria is 
not worth it i'm just saying the benefits of water   and really anything that we ingest extends well 
beyond what's obvious on the surface so cheers   to that fun fact when it was first introduced back 
in 1929 7up contained lithium let us know if you   would drink lithium soda down in the comments or 
if you want us to cover more stories on mental   health in the future make sure to subscribe see 
you next time on seeker and thanks for watching

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