London: The presence of low levels of lithium in the human body prolongs life, says a new study.
Lithium is one of the many nutritional trace elements and is ingested mainly through vegetables and drinking water.
"The scientific community doesn`t know much about the physiological function of lithium," said Professor Michael Ristow, professor in nutrition at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in Germany and project incharge, the European Journal of Nutrition reports.
According to an earlier study from the US, highly concentrated lithium showed to be life-prolonging in C. elegans, a worm, said Ristow, according to a Schiller statement.
"The dosage that has been analyzed back then, however, is clearly beyond the physiologically relevant range and may be poisonous for human beings," explained Ristow.
To find out if lithium has a life-prolonging impact at much lower concentrations, scientists examined its impact in a concentration that was regularly found in ordinary tap water.
In a collaborative effort with Japanese colleagues, the Jena scientists analyzed the mortality rate in 18 adjacent Japanese municipalities in relation to the amount of lithium contained in tap water from the respective regions.
"We found that the mortality rate was considerably lower in those municipalities with more lithium in the drinking water," said Ristow.