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Uric Acid, IQ, Productivity & Lifespan: Is There a Link?

Written by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

High levels of uric acid increase your likelihood of both gout and genius. Yes, really. Learn the strange science & how to increase uric acid here.

In 1904, Havelock Ellis found in his “A Study of British Genius” that there was an unusually high rate of gout among eminent men in his study. Gout is associated with higher volumes of uric acid (or urate) in the blood. He, therefore, suggested that it might have something to do with it [1].

Later investigators have examined this relationship, and there is indeed a correlation. A review found only a slight correlation between IQ and uric acid. However, there was a stronger correlation between uric acid and scholastic achievement, even after controlling for IQ [1].

Another study found a correlation (+.37) between uric acid and publication rates of university professors. This is extremely significant for just one measure tested. Insane [1].

Uric acid has a similar chemical structure to that of caffeine, and can maybe act as a natural stimulant [1].

Other Benefits of Uric Acid

Uric acid levels correlate with longevity in monkeys and animals. This is presumably because of urate’s antioxidant properties [1].

Uric acid levels are much lower in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and a study with 11 people found correcting these levels are therapeutic [1].

In fact, it prevented the progression of MS in all 11 patients tested and even improved the symptoms of some patients [1].

Like MS, low uric acid also correlates with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s [2, 3]. Clinical trials are underway to determine if raising urate levels will slow the disease in people.

Uric acid reduced Th1 immune dominance in people with MS [4], which is good for me.

As a natural antioxidant, urate provides up to 60% of the antioxidant capacity in human blood. It also provides protection from the free radicals that it doesn’t neutralize [3].

However, recent studies indicate that these mechanisms couldn’t explain all of its beneficial effects in the brain [1].

Studies have found that urate was neuroprotective by protecting neurons from glutamate-induced toxicity, a central cause of neuron degeneration [1].

In mice with autoimmune conditions, urate was beneficial and increased the survival rate [1].

On a cautionary note, uric acid can increase Th17 inflammation if inflammation is present (IL-1b, IL-18) [5]. It can be inflammatory in general if you have too much [1].

Too high or too low levels of uric acid are not good. Too low leads to oxidative stress, but too high can also lead to inflammation, gout and kidney stones [3].

Screenshot 2014-12-29 20.39.42[1]

How too much uric acid causes inflammation:


How to Increase Uric Acid

Zinc elevates uric acid if you’re deficient [1].

Animal products increase uric acid in general [1]. Fructose can also increase uric acid [6], but I don’t know at what dosage or if it does in humans.

Dairy and maybe calcium lower uric acid levels, which explains why vegans have higher levels than omnivores. Soy might also increase urate levels [7].

Estrogen increases uric acid excretion, which explains why men have higher levels than women [7].

In general, diet was more of a factor in men in its ability to influence urate levels rather than women [7].

Inosine, found in liver and fish, is the most powerful way to increase uric acid levels [1]. This is what’s used in studies with MS and Parkinson’s.

Inosine Effects

Inosine has been shown to have antidepressant effects in mice through increasing brain growth (via BDNF, MAPK, adenosine antagonism).

Inosine increases RNA and DNA production and blood oxygen carrying capacity, which preserves ATP levels.

In a clinical trial with MS patients, Inosine more than doubled uric acid levels (increased from 3.9 to 8.3).

It decreased Nitrotyrosine, a marker of cell damage and inflammation, by more than half (from 73 to 32) [8].

It increased IL-10 and IL-13, which are Th2 cytokines. IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine. Mac-1 is a marker of inflammation and it more than halved (from 2.7 to 1.2).

Screenshot 2015-01-03 09.30.03


There are some negatives to uric acid/inosine such as gout and kidney stones, so be careful. In studies with MS and Parkinson’s, kidney stones were quite common from inosine treatment (up to 1/4 people got it).

However, in the studies that were in a controlled environment, the patients were properly hydrated and none of them got kidney stones [9].

You need to drink a ton of water (over a gallon) and take potassium citrate to prevent kidney stones.

Uric acid is also capable of binding iron [3], so be careful if you’re anemic.

If you need to supplement with calcium because you’re not getting enough from your diet, it’s better to use the citrate form. I also recommend magnesium citrate.

I’m still taking a risk, but I like the effect enough that it’s worth it for me.

Increasing Inosine

Further reading

About the Author

Ana Aleksic

Ana Aleksic

MSc (Pharmacy)
Ana received her MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade.
Ana has many years of experience in clinical research and health advising. She loves communicating science and empowering people to achieve their optimal health. Ana spent years working with patients who suffer from various mental health issues and chronic health problems. She is a strong advocate of integrating scientific knowledge and holistic medicine.


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