Lithium is an important mineral found naturally in the earth and in certain foods. This mineral is important for optimal brain function, as well as mood and behavior regulation. It’s not uncommon for autistic children to also struggle with mood issues like anxiety or depression and supplemental lithium can make a noticeable difference for these challenges.
It’s important to note that supplemental lithium is very different from the lithium that is prescribed to individuals with psychiatric issues like bipolar disorder. If your child has been prescribed lithium for any reason you should consult the prescribing physician before giving your child supplemental lithium.
3 Ways Supplemental Lithium Can Help Autistic Children
- Balancing Neurotransmitters
Our brains are full of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. Supplemental lithium can create a healthy balance in your child’s brain which can lead to a more predictable emotional state.
- Assisting Inositol Transmission
Lithium is also involved in the inositol recycling pathway in the brain. Lithium helps create more of the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is responsible for communication and survival of brain cells.
- Transporting Vitamin B12
Supplemental Lithium helps Vitamin B12 transport efficiently throughout the body. If we lack the correct amount of lithium the B12 in our bodies won’t be transported properly. When this happens, your child may exhibit symptoms of low B12 and lead to a variety of other issues.
Find out more about the importance of vitamin B12 in my video How Can Vitamin B12 Help Your Child with Autism?
When to Consider Supplemental Lithium
Many times our children with autism have disruptive behaviors, impulsivity, and anxiety. Supplemental lithium can help ease those issues.
Additionally, the genetic condition, Fragile X, is often associated with certain types of autism, anxiety, and some learning challenges. Supplemental lithium certainly won’t cure Fragile X, but it can help manage the symptoms allowing your child to live their best possible life.
How to Dose Supplemental Lithium
Again, it’s important that you’re using the correct form of lithium. Lithium orotate comes in small 0.5 – 5 mg doses. I encourage patients to start with a low dose and increase it slowly over time. Following this method allows you to see the benefits and identify any adverse side effects along the way.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
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