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Trace mineral lithium found to vastly extend lifespan... some want to turn it into an anti-aging drug, but you can find lithium in mineral supplements right now


(NaturalNews) For thousands of years, mankind has been looking for ways to slow down aging and extend life. Could a common trace mineral hold the key to longevity? According to new research[PDF] published in the journal Cell Reports, lithium chloride, a common drug used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, can extend the lives of fruit flies by as much as 16 percent.

As the same mechanisms are found in other animals and humans, researchers are very optimistic that they may finally have found a way to improve our quality and length of life.

"There's a lot of controversy about lifespan extension. But this also concerns extension of health. For example if this drug could delay Alzheimer's from the age of 75 to the age of 90 that would be extremely good. We don't necessarily want to live to 110 or 120 but we want to live healthier for longer," said Dr. Jorge Ivan Castillo-Quan, lead author of the study, as reported by The Independent.

A key protein that shortens life

Dr. Jorge and his team found that lithium chloride blocks a protein called glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) while activating the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (NRF-2). They found that when GSK-3 was switched off, through the use of low-level lithium, they could extend the lives of fruit flies by 16 percent.

Varied doses of lithium were given to 160 adult flies, both male and female. Regardless of their genetic background or sex, lower doses prolonged life by an average of 16 percent and a maximum of 18 percent. Few adverse effects were seen. There was no loss of appetite and they were still able to produce healthy, normal offspring.

Benefits of lithium were also seen when flies received one single dose near the end of their lives. According to the study, their lives could be extended to a maximum of 13 percent.

However, at high doses, adverse effects took over and lithium reduced the lifespan drastically.

Furthermore, they note that the same molecule could also hold the key to push back the onset of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson's.

"We're excited about GSK-3. It could mean that all sorts of diseases related to ageing could be prevented for the near future if it was to become a therapy starting in middle age. I think that's an even more exciting perspective than life extension," said Dr. Jorge.

Creating a healthier older generation

While adding years to your life may sound great, more importantly, these findings may hold the key to live disease-free for longer and reduce the period at the end of our life when our bodies are plagued by the effects of aging and disease.

Professor Dame Linda Partridge, Director of the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and principal investigator of the study, said: "Our aim is to identify ways to intervene in ageing, with the end goal of keeping us all healthier for longer and compressing the time at the end of life when we suffer from physical decline and diseases."

"This can be done by diet, genetics or drugs, which is why we want to identify promising drug targets," she added.

Dr. Jorge notes that a GSK-3-related anti-aging pill is unlikely to be available within the next 10 years and may not be available for several decades. Why wait until Big Pharma takes over? Lithium mineral supplements are available right now and may potentially extend life by around seven to 10 years and improve the quality of life while we age.

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