Lithium in lithium carbonate, 18.8% is lithium the rest is carbonate, lithium orotate contains 3.83% lithium

Understanding Lithium Dosages

© April 16 #2

Lithium carbonate contains 18.8% lithium. 
Lithium orotate contains 3.83% lithium. 

Understanding the different numbers you see for lithium dosages can be very confusing, the problem is people including doctors often don't distinguish between the total weight of the lithium-salt and the weight of just the elemental-lithium it contains.

Generally when a physician writes a prescription for lithium the number is not the number of milligrams of the elemental lithium, it’s the weight of the elemental lithium plus the carrier molecule it’s attached to, so when a physician says lithium what they are actually referring to is lithium carbonate not just the lithium it contains. 
For example a typical prescription for bipolar syndrome may say: 900 mg of lithium a day but this is actually 900 mg lithium carbonate which contains 170 mg of lithium the other 730 mg is carbonate (carbon and oxygen which are quite big and heavy elements compared to the tiny lithium).

You never consume free unattached lithium metal on its own, when we take lithium it has to be attached to a carrier chemical; what we consume are actually salts of lithium, we take lithium chloride, lithium orotate or lithium carbonate for example.  Bare lithium metal reacts vigorously with water and would produce so much heat on contact with the water in your saliva that it would burn your mouth, lithium is a very volatile element have you seen the stories of lithium batteries exploding or catching fire.  In this regard lithium is similar to the sodium we consume as sodium chloride or common table salt, if you put free bare sodium in your mouth it would seriously burn you.  
It was back in the 80s when high quality supplement brands began to make a point of specifying the elemental weight of the mineral in a tablet as opposed to the weight of the salt so for example on a supplement bottle you might see 200 mg elemental magnesium (from magnesium citrate), but in conventional medicine this isn’t made clear when lithium is prescribed; to be fair a prescription of lithium is presumed to be lithium carbonate, but not specifying the weight of the lithium can lead to confusion about the numbers.

Lithium carbonates side-effectsLet’s look at the numbers
Unfortunately not all lithium salts contain the same percentage of lithium which makes it very difficult to compare the dosage of one lithium salt versus another say lithium carbonate versus lithium orotate or lithium citrate. 
Lithium Carbonate
In psychiatric medicine a typical dose of lithium carbonate prescribed for bipolar syndrome is from 900-1200 mg a day. 

Lithium carbonate contains approximately 18.8% lithium the rest is carbonate so: 
900 mg of lithium carbonate = 170 mg of elemental lithium
1200 mg of lithium carbonate = 225 mg of elemental lithium
Lithium Orotate
In my practice I prescribe lithium orotate. For general brain health I may prescribe as little as 30 mg (1/4 tablet) and up to 120-240 mg for bipolar management (I personally take 120 mg twice a day).Lithium orotate dosage
Lithium orotate on the other hand contains approximately 3.83% lithium so:
120 mg of lithium orotate = 4.6 mg of elemental lithium
240 mg of lithium orotate = 9.2 mg of elemental lithium 

So the low dose of lithium I prescribed for bipolar management is just 1/37th or 2.7 % of the standard dosage from lithium carbonate prescribed in psychiatric medicine (4.6 mg compared to 170).

The higher dose of lithium I prescribed for bipolar management (my personal daily dosage) is just 1/18th or 5.4% (9.2 mg compared to 170), and this is just 1/26th or 3.8% of the lithium used as a high dose in psychiatric medicine (9.2 mg compared to 240).

If you want to take just a very small supplemental dose for general brain health of 30 mg of lithium orotate (a ¼ tablet) that equals 1.15 mg elemental lithium which is just minuscule 1/148th or 0.68 % of the minimum standard psychiatric dose of 170mg.

[P.S. I’ve 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?] 

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 myLithium orotate for sale UK 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.
To learn more about the health benefits and conditions that may be helped from supplementing low-dose lithium orotate see:
Lithium Nutritional Friend or Toxic Foe
To learn how to enhance the effectiveness of low-dose lithium see:
How to Use Low-Dose Lithium Orotate Effectively
To learn how to treat bipolar mania without drugs see:
Managing Mania
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Over the years I’ve trained in Nutritional /naturopathic medicine, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP, body-centred psychotherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Bicom resonance therapy, meditation and Kundalini yoga, in the past I specialised in digestive health problems including IBS, bloating, candida, parasites, constipation, Heavy metal detoxification and chronic fatigue syndrome including adrenal exhaustion. I practice at the Hale Clinic (central London) and via Skype as a holistic medical practitioner and have been in practice since 1988.
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