A typical dose of lithium orotate is 5 mg of lithium from 130 mg of lithium-orotate, a typical dose of lithium carbonate is 170 mg from 900 mg of lithium-carbonate,

Understanding Lithium Dosages

Lithium-carbonate contains 8.8% of elemental lithium
Lithium-orotate contains     3.83% of elemental lithium

Understanding the different numbers you see for lithium dosages can be very confusing, the problem is most websites and doctors’ prescriptions often don’t distinguish between the weight of the pure elemental lithium on its own versus the weight of the lithium plus the weight of the compound the lithium is attached to, so for example:
Lithium orotate dosage
100 mg of lithium-carbonate contains 18.8 mg of elemental lithium the rest is carbonate and
100 mg of lithium-orotate contains 3.83 mg of elemental lithium the rest is orotate.
A typical dose for bipolar disorder might be 900 mg of lithium-carbonate which contains 170 mg of pure elemental lithium.
A typical dose of lithium-orotate might be 260 mg of lithium-orotate which contains 10 mg of pure elemental lithium*.

*240 mg of lithium-orotate is my typical recommendation for bipolar disorder lithium-orotate is not used in mainstream medicine.

Generally speaking the number you see in a doctor’s prescription is for the number of milligrams of lithium-carbonate not the lithium it contains and just to confuse you generally speaking when you buy lithium orotate manufacturers state the number of milligrams of the pure elemental lithium not the milligrams of lithium orotate, if you didn’t get that just keep reading and it will make sense.

Buying lithium-orotate supplements

Lithium orotate for saleLithium-orotate is typically sold in pills or capsules some say they contain 5 mg of lithium (from lithium-orotate) others may say they contain 120-130 mg of lithium-orotate.
Now, lithium-orotate is elemental lithium attached to a carrier or delivery molecule called orotate that safely delivers the elemental lithium into your body and cells.

Lithium orotate is made up of 3.83% elemental lithium and the other 96.17% is orotate.

Lithium orotate supplementsUnderstanding the numbers on the label
When you buy products that say “lithium (from lithium-orotate)” 5 or 10 mg then you know exactly how much lithium you’re getting they’ve done the calculation for you and told you how much actual pure lithium or elemental lithium is in each pill, however some labels say they contain “120 mg of lithium-orotate” and this can be confusing, the way a break this down is like this: multiply the 120 mg dosage of lithium orotate by 3.83%:
120 mg of lithium-orotate = 4.6 mg of elemental lithium (3.83% of 120)
2 x 120 mg tablets per day would give you = 9.2 mg of elemental lithium a day.
4.6 mg is sufficiently close enough to 5 mg so I prescribe both interchangeably in my clinic.

Lithium-orotate Dosage

Typical doses I might prescribe are:
For general brain health maintenance a quarter tablet which is about 1 mg of lithium.
For stimulating neuroplasticity and regeneration in the brain 5-10 mg of lithium.
For bipolar treatment/maintenance 10-15 mg of lithium and up to 20 mg during manic phases.
When I first took lithium-orotate for my own bipolar disorder I tried 2 x 120 mg (delivering 9.2 mg of elemental lithium) per day but found that going from zero lithium to 9.2 mg a day made me feel a bit emotionally flattened and caused a slight tremor in my hands. I reduced the dosage to approximately 1 mg a day and at this dose I had no emotional flatness the hand tremors stopped and I quickly began to notice an improvement in the timing of my sleep cycles (see below for more details).
Encouraged by this I wondered if gradually increase the dose over several weeks allowing my body to get used to it might tolerate higher dosages; it’s not at all unusual the optimum dose you eventually settle on of a medicine is too much for the body in the beginning. Eventually I discovered that the ideal dose for me is 10 mg a day (just to be clear that’s 10 mg of lithium from about 130 mg of lithium-orotate) as an ongoing maintenance and occasionally 15 mg a day when I see the early warning signs that the bipolar mania is about to attempt to hijack my brain again, to learn more about how to read the early warning signs that indicate you are heading towards another bout of mania see How to Self Monitor Bipolar Syndrome and Adjust Your Prescription
There is a structure in the brain that often goes out of balance in bipolar disorder called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), this structure runs our sleep-wake cycle, this structure requires lithium as a cofactor to work. Before I learned how to treat it my poorly functioning SCN wouldn’t keep time with the rotation of the Earth and instead of initiating the sleep cycle every 24 hours I would run on a 26 even up to 28 hour cycle resulting in delayed sleep phase syndrome with long days and more or less constant jetlag, this was one of the most aspect of my personal bipolar disorder even during periods of the absence mania or depression. Seeing normalisation of the function of this brain structure encouraged me that lithium had potential to be a helpful and beneficial nutritional supplement for my brain. For more information on how lithium benefits the bipolar brain see: Lithium Orotate for Bipolar and Depression

Comparing the orotate versus carbonate dosages

lithium carbonate versus lithium orotate dosageAs already mentioned mainstream medicine uses high doses of lithium from lithium-carbonate.
Typical doses of lithium-carbonates prescribed for bipolar disorder range from 900 mg to 1200 mg a day.

Lithium-carbonate contains a higher percentage, 18.8% of elemental lithium compared to just 3.83% for the orotate this means that a typical mainstream medicine prescription contains from 170 to 1200 mg of elemental lithium.
For comparison the typical dose of lithium (from orotate) I prescribe for bipolar is 9.2 mg this is just 5.4 % or 1/18th of the lower standard mainstream dose of 170 mg of lithium from carbonate and the ‘high’ dose of 15 mg of lithium from orotate I recommend is just less than 6.3% or 1/16th.
The very low dose I use to maintain general brain health of just 1.15 mg of lithium from orotate (a ¼ tablet) is a minuscule 0.68 % or 1/148th of the minimum standard psychiatric dose of 170mg!
As you can see the typical dosages used of lithium from lithium-orotate are much much lower than the typical doses of lithium from lithium-carbonate used in mainstream psychiatric medicine. You may wonder why mainstream medicine uses such high doses of lithium-carbonate given the potential for side-effects if low doses of lithium from lithium-orotate can be effective, I can’t explain this exactly perhaps it’s just because in the past lithium carbonate was scientifically researched, lithium orotate wasn’t and today there is no funding available to research lithium-orotate because you can’t patent it and make a profitable return from the costs of the research; the more pertinent question for me is can I obtain therapeutic benefits from lithium orotate without producing side-effects and the answer to that I would say emphatically is yes; I explain why I believe low-dose lithium orotate to be effective and how you can you can make it even more effective elsewhere

Why do we need to take orotates and carbonates of lithium why not just take pure lithium?

You would never consume free unattached lithium metal on its own, pure lithium reacts vigourously on contact with water producing a lot of heat, this reaction is so vigourous that it upon contact with the water in the saliva in your mouth, throat and stomach pure elemental lithium would react and burn them your insides.
When we ingest minerals like lithium and sodium they have to be attached to carrier compounds (carbonates, orotates, chlorides, citrates et al) the resultant combination of these type of minerals and the carrier compounds are called salts; the most well-known of which is sodium-chloride better known as table salt or just salt, pure unattached sodium reacts so vigourously with water that it bursts into flames (it splits apart the hydrogen and oxygen contained in the water and then ignites the hydrogen).
So we ingest sodium as sodium-chloride or normal table salt and we can ingest lithium in the form of lithium-chloride, lithium-carbonate, lithium-citrate or what I use lithium-orotate.

Just to make matters more confusing the lithium from one salt doesn’t have exactly the same effect as the lithium from another salt

Ok now that I’ve clarified the numbers I’m going to confuse you again, it seems lithium-orotate and lithium-carbonate behave differently.  Lithium from lithium-orotate is more slowly excreted by the kidneys and better absorbed into the cells than lithium from carbonate so you cannot just compare the amount of lithium delivered from different products. To be honest there has been very little scientific research into lithium-orotate but in the alternative nutrition community we believe lithium-orotate to be more efficient and hence effective at lower doses, my patients and myself included notice feeling better on low-dose lithium-orotate and do not experience any unpleasant side-effects when starting at a very low dose and building up over a couple of weeks. 
I advocate and practice self-medicating myself, but it’s not appropriate for everyone if you have bipolar with pronounced mania don’t expect low-dose lithium-orotate to be able to control your symptoms on its own or to be a direct substitute for any mood stabilisers you may currently be on, in my practice I start people on a very low dose typically 1 mg and build up gradually over a few weeks, furthermore I always prescribed low-dose lithium in combination with multiple other mood stabilising approaches to achieve a sufficiently powerful mood stabilising effect.

Want private consultation on how to use lithium for your individual mental health problem?

If you are reading this page you probably have the mental health problems if you’d like me to look into your individual case and work out an individual programme of diet, nutritional supplements, herbs, brain training and physical exercises I’m available either at my London clinic or via Skype for people that live too far away you can find my contact details and fees in the main menu.

Why you Should Take Lithium If You Have a Mental Health Problem to Protect Your Brain from Dementia

I strongly encourage you to take lithium if you have bipolar disorder, chronic or long-term depression or schizophrenia because I’m sorry to tell you but all of these conditions significantly increase our risk of developing dementia, however research has shown that people with these mental health problems that have taken long-term lithium no longer show a measurable increase risk of developing dementia {insert ref}; I explain elsewhere how to use lithium orotate and other remedies to boost neuroplasticity regenerate and protect your brain from the potentially damaging effects of a long-term mental health disorder. See [lithium and the…]

For more information on lithium

Lithium’s Multiple Wide-Ranging Health Benefits
How to enhance the effectiveness of low-dose lithium see:
How to Use Low-Dose Lithium-orotate Effectively
How to treat bipolar mania without drugs:
Managing Mania  

[PLEASE HELP can you answer these questions:
Can anybody tell me what percentage of lithium-citrate is elemental lithium?
Also seen the figure 18.92% for lithium in lithium-carbonate, my inorganic chemistry is very rusty are there any chemists out there that could verify the correct figure?] 

Lithium isn’t only for bipolar disorder
Besides being a useful treatment and preventative for bipolar disorder I regularly prescribe lithium to:-
Prevent recurrent serotonin based deficiency,
Improve neuroplasticity and promote regeneration in the brain when there were signs of cognitive decline,
Improve neuroplasticity to speed up recovery with healthy brain function following recreational and pharmaceutical drug use,
Improve sensitivity in GABA receptors to speed up recovery/withdrawal from benzodiazepam type drugs,
For more information on the lithium’s many potential uses including PTSD, OCD, alcoholism, bipolar depression, unipolar depression, migraine/cluster headaches, improving low white blood cell count, juvenile convulsive disease, liver disorders, recovery from stroke, traumatic brain injury, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, histamine  reactions contracting the airways in the lungs, metal toxicity, inflammatory bowel disease and hyperthyroidism see Lithium’s Many Health Benefits
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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.

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