Very low levels of lithium in drinking water may help prevent suicide in the general population, according to a new study.
The study has prompted calls for further research into the possibility of adding lithium to drinking supplies – like water fluoridation to improve dental health.
Researchers at Oita University in Japan measured natural lithium levels in tap water in 18 communities in the surrounding region of southern Japan.
The lithium levels ranged between 0.7 micrograms per litre and 59 micrograms per litre.
The researchers then calculated the suicide rate in each of the 18 areas. They found that the suicide rate was significantly lower in those areas with the highest levels of lithium in the water.
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