Lithium: The Cinderella Mineral for Cognitive Decline

September 1, 2021
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

This overlooked mineral just may be a fairy tale come true.

Most of us remember Cinderella, the poor little girl who was neglected and badly treated by her stepmother and stepsisters until she transformed into a beautiful princess to find favor with the handsome young prince. The mineral lithium truly has its own Cinderella story:  a common and simple element on the Earth for billions of years, it’s only now beginning to receive recognition for its remarkable positive effects on mental health and regeneration. 

We tend to only really associate lithium with the powerful psychotropic drug that has been used since the 1960s to treat severe mental illnesses. Or, you may think of the lithium-ion batteries in our cell phones and computers.

Still today, patients suffering from bipolar disorder and a range of manic issues are given high doses of lithium at about 1800 mg per day. But now, research has found that low-dose (microdose) levels of lithium (20-80 mg per day) can be highly effective for a range of mental health conditions.

Benefits of Low-Dose Lithium

As an essential mineral – like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride – lithium is crucial for our survival. Its function is to protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It stops the progression of cognitive decline as we age, and it can even reverse Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral atrophy. Lithium has been shown to inhibit the growth of plaques and amyloid deposits in the brain that can lead to cognitive decline. When given in low doses, lithium can effectively improve memory and enhance cognition, prevent, and even reverse dementia, reduce the risk of stroke and its damage, and improve effects of brain trauma. And because it boosts overall brain function, it is well documented to improve several mental health issues including anxiety, depression, ADD and ADHD, and PTSD.

I rediscovered lithium several years ago when I was researching my book and came across Reversing Alzheimer’s by Dr. Timothy Smith. Here is his personal lithium story:

“In 2003, an MRI scan of my brain showed cerebral atrophy. This wasn’t a surprising finding; most sixty-year-olds have some brain shrinkage as a “normal” feature of aging. A few months later I read a research article in Lancet showing that low-dose lithium reversed cerebral atrophy, so I added 20 mg a day of lithium orotate to my supplement program.

A couple of years ago, a repeat MRI revealed, to my surprise, that the atrophy was completely gone! Recent research has unveiled the mechanism: lithium triggers BDNF production that stimulates the growth of stem cells, leading to neuro-regeneration. Nothing else is known to reverse brain atrophy, so I assume it was the lithium. What a gift!”

Lithium Protects the Brain from Degenerative Disease

I had known about lithium’s benefits at low doses for years but was particularly inspired after reading Dr. Timothy Smith’s moving testimonial. I’ve since come across the work of Dr. James M. Greenblatt, author of “Nutritional Lithium: A Cinderella Story” and recently interviewed him on my podcast. And there are many more real-life stories that I have heard from others about the benefits of low-dose lithium. The published evidence is solid and documents Lithium’s ability to protect the brain from degenerative disease.

Here’s the skinny: As a trace element, lithium is officially listed alongside zinc, iron, iodine, selenium, chromium, and others by the World Health Organization. It is naturally occurring in both food and water – primary sources are vegetables, grains, eggs, and milk. At microdose levels, lithium has no known side effects or adverse reactions, and it is not toxic. There is no reason that low-dose lithium should NOT be seriously considered as a treatment of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and other mental health issues.

Brains on Lithium Grow, Heal, and Function Better

Lithium promotes the formation of new brain cells by enhancing the synthesis of neurotrophic factors. Lithium also inhibits cell death, inhibits cellular oxidative stress, cleans up old cells, improves cellular energy production, and enhances neurotransmission. If that weren’t enough, lithium also increases the density of gray matter and the size of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. In essence, brains on lithium grow…and heal…and simply function better.

Consider taking lithium orotate in a low dose (20-80 mg per day). I am now taking it daily because I am healing from brain trauma. I use it in addition to Ultra H-3 Plus which provides all the brain-sharpening nutrients my body needs to fully recover and regenerate. For more information on lifestyle habits and protocols to further enhance lithium’s remarkable abilities, check out my book, Radical Longevity which has a full chapter on Reclaiming Your Brain. 

To hear more fascinating information about the “Cinderella Mineral,” listen to my podcast episode with Dr. James M. Greenblatt: The Untold Story of the Little Mineral That Heals the Brain

Ultra H-3 Plus from Uni Key Health

Ultra H-3 Plus

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Annie

    This is very interesting. I am very concerned about my memory. Thank you

    • Robin

      Can you tell me what brand of lithium orotate that you would suggest.

  2. Pamela

    Lithium sounds amazing. I’ve tried so many other herbs and nutrients but not this one. I’ll be ordering this.

  3. Cecilia

    I love your new book about longevity. I’m in my mid 50’s and can really use this information now to slow down my aging.

  4. Shirley Richey

    Where can I buy low dose Lithium? Or does Ultra H3 Plus have it as an ingredient?

    • Team ALG

      Shirley, You can buy low dose lithium online. Pure Encapsulations has a good one. It’s not included in the Ultra H-3 Plus.

  5. Matt Parker

    I’m confused about the dosing here.

    The article suggests ‘low-dose (microdose) levels of lithium (20-80 mg per day)’.

    If this is a micro-dose then what about the supplement I have: Life Extension’s Lithium (as lithium orotate) 1,000mcg . With this supplement I would need to take 80 capsules a day ?!



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