Everything You Need To Know About Copper

Many who undertake nutritional balancing programs based on hair mineral analysis at some point begin to eliminate a lot of copper. This can cause symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes, anxiety, fatigue, testicular pain in men, changes in the menstrual cycle in women, irritability, weepiness or emotional sensitivity.

These symptoms are temporary, but can be annoying and cause some to discontinue the nutrition program when in fact it is working perfectly well. This bulletin explores what to do when an individual is eliminating copper.

Why Copper Reactions Occur

Most people have deficiencies of zinc, manganese and other minerals that contribute to excessive accumulation of copper in the body tissues. As one replenishes the zinc and other vital minerals, the body begins to eliminate excess copper.

Free or unbound copper, however, is quite toxic. Copper is a powerful oxidant, meaning it can inflame the tissues and cause oxidant damage. To avoid toxicity, it must be wrapped up or bound to protein molecule. Sulfur amino acids found in eggs and meats are helpful for this. Adequate adrenal glandular activity is also required for the liver to produce enough copper binding proteins.

To eliminate copper, it is first mobilized from tissue storage sites and moved into the blood. The blood transports it to the liver and kidneys through which it is eliminated. Symptoms occur because a lot of copper may be dumped into the blood at once and it is not cleared from the blood rapidly enough by the liver and kidneys. Also, there is often a deficiency of the copper binding proteins, ceruloplasmin and metallothionine, due to sluggish liver production of these proteins. Copper remaining in the blood, especially in an unbound form, may cause headaches and other symptoms.


To stop the symptoms of copper elimination one may slow the mobilization of copper from tissue storage sites, assist the binding of copper and speed up the clearing of copper from the blood. The objective is to eliminate as much copper as possible as rapidly as possible without causing annoying symptoms.

To slow mobilization of copper from the tissues, the simplest way is to stop the nutritional supplement program for about three days. One may continue taking digestive enzymes, but discontinue the rest. After three days, resume the program taking only one dose of supplements per day. If one remains symptom-free after five days, increase to two doses of supplements per day. If one remains symptom-free after five more days, increase to three doses per day. This will take care of many copper elimination symptoms.

To help clear copper from the blood, eat some eggs or animal protein regularly and get plenty of rest. Avoid constipation by taking magnesium. Drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water each day. If symptoms persist, the following supplements may also be helpful.

Molybdenum, which binds with copper to reduce its toxic effects. It also helps the liver eliminate copper.

Russian black radish, an herb high in sulfur may also be helpful. Sulfur binds with copper, reducing its toxic effects and is important for liver detoxification.

L-Taurine, an essential amino acid which is deficient in many people’s diets may also be helpful. High in sulfur, it can donate a sulfate molecule that helps bind copper to reduce its toxicity and facilitate its removal. An adult dosage is two to three tablets three times a day with meals.

N-acetyl cysteine is another sulfur-containing compound that may help with severe copper elimination symptoms.

Other Procedures For Copper Symptoms

Other procedures can also assist with copper elimination symptoms. Slow walking and deep breathing calm the nerves and promote activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. This system activates the liver, kidneys and intestines to help remove copper.

Coffee enemas stimulate bile flow and enhance liver detoxification. They can be very effective to relieve a headache associated with copper elimination. One may take one or even two of these daily, adding two tablespoons of regular coffee to two cups of boiling water and letting it simmer for five minutes. When the water is body temperature, one places the water in an enema bag. One must retain the enema 15 minutes for maximum effectiveness.

Sauna baths or massage therapy enhance circulation and help decongest the internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. The far infrared sauna will give the best results and may be used up to twice a day for 50 minutes at a time. The sauna has a parasympathetic effect like slow walking and one can sweat out some copper through the skin.

Acupressure or acupuncture can balance the flow of qi or subtle energy through the liver and kidneys. In some cases, this too will be helpful. Chiropractic treatment can clear nerve blockages that may be interfering with the activity of the liver and kidneys.

Releasing fear is also a powerful way to assist copper elimination. Fear has a paralyzing effect on the body, affecting the activity of many organs. Also, copper toxicity is associated with negative emotions. Allowing oneself to give up these emotions frees up energy that assists all the organs that are involved with copper metabolism.

The Benefits Of Copper Elimination

If an individual is tempted to quit a nutrition program due to copper elimination symptoms, recall the benefits of getting rid of excess copper from the body. Copper toxicity is associated with a weakened immune system and the serious diseases that follow.

Copper toxicity is associated with mental and emotional symptoms including anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic disorder, crying spells and even a type of schizophrenia. Copper imbalance is also associated with premenstrual tension, endometriosis, tumors, fatigue, many skin diseases, hair loss, greying of the hair, insomnia and liver disease such as hepatitis. Copper toxicity that is passed on to children is associated with attention deficit disorder, infections and impaired growth and development.

Copper symptoms are temporary and disappear as the copper level decreases and the organs of elimination function better. Staying on the nutrition program is worth the temporary discomfort in order to achieve and maintain excellent health.

Sources Of Copper

  • Seafood – oysters, crabs, bluefish, perch, lobster
  • Meats –veal, duck, lamb, pork, beef liver and kidneys
  • Nuts/seeds –almonds, pecans, walnuts, filberts, brazil nuts, sesame, sunflower, pistachio
  • Vegetables –soybeans
  • Grains –wheat germ and bran
  • Miscellaneous –yeast, gelatin, bone meal, corn oil, margarine, mushrooms, chocolate
  • Other sources –copper water pipes, copper sulfate added to drinking water, copper compounds used in swimming pools, mineral supplements (especially prenatal vitamins), copper cookware and tea kettles, birth control pills, copper intrauterine devices, vegetarian diets, stress, exhaustion of the adrenal glands

Roles In The Body

  • Energy production
  • Female reproductive system
  • Blood formation

Functions Of Copper

  • Circulatory –structure of blood vessels, aorta and heart muscle
  • Blood –formation of hemoglobin
  • Nervous –maintenance of the myelin sheath on nerves
  • Reproductive –essential for fertility, menstrual cycle
  • Endocrine –synthesis of stimulatory neurotransmitters
  • Muscular/skeletal –bone and connective tissue structure
  • Immune system –necessary for the immune system
  • Integumentary –needed for skin, hair, nails and pigments
  • Energy -energy production (the electron transport system)

Symptoms Associated With A Copper Deficiency

  • anemia
  • atherosclerosis
  • demyelination of nerves
  • diarrhea
  • edema
  • fatigue
  • hair loss
  • impaired collagen formation
  • loss of hair color
  • low hormone production
  • osteoporosis

Symptoms Associated With A Copper Excess

  • acne
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • allergies
  • alopecia
  • anemia
  • anorexia
  • anxiety
  • arthritis
  • autism
  • cholesterol, elevated
  • cancer
  • cystic fibrosis
  • depression, mental
  • diabetes
  • estrogen (imbalance)
  • fatigue
  • fears
  • fractures, bone
  • headaches (migraine)
  • hemorrhages
  • heart disease
  • hyperactivity
  • hypertension
  • hyperthyroidism
  • hypochlorhydria
  • hypoglycemia
  • infections
  • inflammation
  • insomnia
  • mind racing
  • mood swings
  • multiple sclerosis
  • myocardial infarction
  • nausea
  • pancreatic dysfunction
  • premenstrual tension
  • schizophrenia
  • sexual inadequacy
  • spaciness
  • strokes
  • tooth decay
  • urinary tract infections
  • vitamin deficiencies

Synergetic Nutrients

Absorption  proteins

Antagonistic Nutrients

  • Absorption zinc, manganese, iron, calcium, molybdenum, sulfur, mercury, cadmium, vitamin C
  • Utilization  zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B6, sulfur, molybdenum, manganese, iron

Hair Analysis Notes

  • Bio-unavailable copper: Often copper status can be tricky to assess. Copper may be present, but unavailable for use in the body. This occurs any time adrenal gland activity is low.
  • Copper and Oxidation Type: Fast oxidizers generally are deficient in copper, while slow oxidizers usually have either high copper or bio-unavailable copper.
  • Hidden Copper Toxicity: Copper is often normal on hair tests, but may actually be locked in body tissues. Test indicators of a hidden copper imbalance are:
  • Calcium level greater than 75 mg%
  • Potassium level less than 3 mg%
  • Sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.2:1
  • Mercury toxicity often indicates a hidden copper toxicity
  • Copper level less than 1.0 mg%
  • Zinc/copper ratio less than 6:1

Reasons For Supplementation With Copper

  • to raise a low sodium/potassium ratio
  • to enhance retention of calcium in tissues

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