The Super Mineral Zinc and Copper Overload in the Body…
We know a lot from nutrition that minerals are SO key for many of our biochemical functions. Minerals in our body need to be in balance with one another, and the mineral zinc needs to be in a healthy ratio with copper for proper regulation.
We as practitioners often find in our society is that zinc is extremely low, and copper is too high because of improper detoxification mechanisms causing a myriad of symptoms and problems, in adults and children.
What are symptoms of zinc deficiency?
decreased appetite, or food tastes different
mental health issues- mood swings, difficulty learning/paying attention
Sick often, immune deficiencies
decreased brain function- cognitive
gut issues – low stomach acid
if low when mom is pregnant –> higher risk for autism
gene expression, protein synthesis, enzymatic reactions decreased, decreased ability to transport heavy metals out of the body
Delayed growth and development
Hypogonadism skin disorders
Changes in nails
Weakness and fatigue
Poor wound healing
Skin rashes or dermatitis
What are signs of high copper?
– Blood sugar issues
– Digestive problems
-Anxiety, agitation, anger, panic attacks, fear, depression, suicidal tendencies
-hormone imbalances – men (libido and sperm health), women- painful period and excess bleeding, PCOS
-increased risk for cervical / uterine cancer ( ONE HUGE PROBLEM WITH COPPER IUD and BIRTH CONTROL they throw off the copper/zinc balance and create copper toxicity in the body)
-The onset of depression at puberty
-History of childhood hyperactivity
-Intolerance of birth control pills
-History of postpartum depression
-The onset of depression at menopause
-Skin sensitivity to rough fabrics
-Intolerance to chocolate
-Severe depression after hormone therapy
Copper is all around us, and is a conductor. It attaches to molecules to do what is needed, but if more copper is unbound in its elemental form it can attach to things it shouldn’t. In other words, it can increase oxidative stress in the body.
Copper is found in the pipes that carry water, and the pots and pans we use, and copper is widely present in plants, with many plant-based foods and crops containing significant amounts of it. So many people that go gluten and dairy free, then move to nut/seed based products, flours and milks which have loads of copper.
Additionally, women use devices made from copper for birth control that cause sever zinc imbalance.
People can be born with the condition known as copper overload which means they have an inability to effectively eliminate excess copper from their bodies. It’s important to mention though that copper overload is not the same as Wilson’s Disease, which is a rare genetic disorder where copper accumulates in
vital organs and glands.
However, copper overload can have a profound effect on every system in the body, especially the reproductive, nervous, and glandular systems, and it can have a devastating impact on mental health.
There’s another important component… —> methylation. There can be certain genetic variations such as in the enzyme GAD that make it harder to break down copper in the body. As an example, in pregnancy copper is supposed to flow to the baby, and then dump the excess copper when a woman gives birth. However with methylation issues the woman might not be able to accomplish this, which can then cause post natal depression.
And Secondly, there are biochemical impairments called a pyrrole disorder that also makes a person deficient in zinc and vitamin B6. Pyrrole are a bi-product of hemoglobin, which we do not want a bunch floating around because they have an affinity for zinc and B6. In this disorder the individual can experience anxiety, rage, addictions, awake at night, and wake up with nausea. Some individuals will get tested for this disorder but the testing shows negative because the pyrrole are hidden when zinc is low. This is an important note, that when zinc is then increased in the body to test again and see if they are present. Many get false negative test results. For this condition, stress and sleep is a huge component. Everyone has pyrroles released when they are stressed, but a pyrrole disorder, the levels don’t go down, and they need zinc and B6 to get it down. I’ve found this in my methylation testing in many patients especially with high anxiety and digestion issues.
You can take a Zinc taste test, which is an easy way to tell if you are low in zinc. In order to lab test these levels it can be very tricky and complicated as these levels can change from minute to minute. Additionally a normal blood range your doctor may take is not the same as an optimal range, which is usually a bit higher. Generally for a child aged 0-10 the level should be over 100. It’s important to make sure the blood test is plasma sample using trace elements tubes so they won’t be contaminated with metals and to stop taking supplements 24 hours before a test. The ideal copper to zinc ratio is 0.8-1-1. Another lab test that can help is ceruloplasmin, which transports copper. This should be about 5-15%.
—>Since minerals can change pretty quickly, this is why i love using kinesiology testing. The zinc taste test is another great quick tool.
How do we fix it?
Treating copper overload is again individualized. Many think that a multivitamin (even a super expensive one) will help them, not knowing that you can create high copper and low zinc. Additionally vitamins for hair have a lot of copper in them. It is crucial to proceed cautiously to avoid a sudden release of copper, which may temporarily
worsen depression and anxiety symptoms, known as copper dumping. Symptoms of copper dumping include anxiety, panic, severe mood swings, rage, impulsivity, and occasionally manic behavior.
Dietary changes are often the safest way to begin, as just taking zinc can be the wrong way. Zinc adds up slowly, while copper dumps quickly. I would recommend working with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in this and methylation support. Additionally, it is essential to avoid dietary sources of copper in your diet, as well as copper-containing supplements, and ladies: birth control. Stress-reducing activities, such as exercise and meditation, can also be beneficial, as stress can exacerbate copper overload symptoms.
High copper foods:
almond milk, nut flours