Lithium Levels in Healthy People?
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Q:  Lithium Levels in Healthy People?

Dr. My father is a Chemist, he draw blood from my husband and sent it to another clinical lab to analized ,my husband lithium levels. The lab reported 0.2. After that, the doctor recomended my husband to be put under lithium treatment. Since then, my father  bought a machine to do the tests in his lab. He tested 12 people included him and my brother, the resoults were 0.0!in all of them. The technician that sold the machine insist that lithium levels should not be present in healthy individuals. Is this true? If it is then, why my husband is under lithium treatment to increase the levels? Should not be the opposite? Is the machine rep. lying to my father?

Please let me know as soon as possible since many lives could be touched by your response.My father will not preform any other tests for the time been. I hope my English is undestandable. (I speak spanish and my father too, that is the reason why I am writing to you and not him)

Best Regards

Dear Danica -- 
Thank you for writing in my language -- su English es mucho mejor que me Espanol! The technician is correct.  I made a quick search to make sure.  Por exemplo: 

Lithium is a natural substance. it occurs naturally in food and water, and therefore small amounts can be found in the body. Certain minerals, however, have a high Lithium content and it is from this source that the medication Lithium carbonate is made.

However, lithium is used as a treatment for bipolar disorder and that may be why your husband is supposed to be taking it.  In that case we usually try to get blood levels higher than 0.2 -- more like 0.7 but not higher than 1.0.  

Dr. Phelps

Published September, 2001


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