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Elements and Compounds

Can you eat lithium?

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November 25, 2008 2:57PM

The solid? No... it would kill you. This is what the MSDS sheet for lithium says for ingestion: Ingestion: May cause severe and permanent damage to the digestive tract. Causes gastrointestinal tract burns. May cause perforation of the digestive tract. May cause kidney failure. May cause systemic effects. May cause ear ringing, blurred vision, thyroid abnormalities, photophobia, and coma. When people talk about taking lithium for medical reasons, they are talking about lithium ions, usually taken in the form of lithium carbonate. Lithium ions are dangerous too, but their medical benefit outweighs that in some extreme circumstances. Here is the MSDS on ingestion of lithium carbonate: Ingestion:

Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, lithium can cause apathy, sluggishness, drowsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, irregular eye movements, weakness, incoordination, lethargy, heart effects, brain effects, ringing in the ears, tremors and muscle twitching, central nervous system damage, kidney effects, thyroid changes, coma, pulmonary edema, and renal failure.