Chris Masterjohn, PhD shared about Why You Should Manage Your Copper Status and How to Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Copper Status and How to Do It

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Chris Masterjohn, PhD shared about Why You Should Manage Your Copper Status and How to Do It

In episode 33, we continue the series on assessing and managing nutritional status. This time we talk about copper. Copper deficiency can cause anemia that is very difficult to tell apart from iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, histamine intolerance, high cholesterol, and a variety of mental effects resulting from neurotransmitter imbalances. Serum copper and ceruloplasmin are excellent tools for assessing nutritional status, but are confounded by inflammation, birth control, menopausal status, and hormone replacement therapy, making it necessary to look at the diet, lifestyle, digestive problems, and other factors that make copper deficiency plausible.

I discuss how to protect yourself from the small risk of copper in your drinking water, and why I think many claims about excess copper outside the context of frank toxicity are misleading.

Everything converges on the practical questions of what to do in these situations. Listen in and enjoy!

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This is part of a series on managing nutritional status where all of the episodes are collated on the shownotes page for the introductory post, What Makes a Good Marker of Nutritional Status?

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to grasslandbeef.com and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

This episode is also brought to you by Kettle and Fire bone broth. I use their 24-hour simmered bone broth as a source of glycine-rich collagen and other nutrients that slowly release from the bones and the marrow inside them. A team of chefs designed the recipe, so it’s delicious to the max.  And the state-of-the-art packaging makes it the only bone broth on the market that is cooked in the traditional way and has no additives or preservatives, yet stays shelf-stable for up to two years, making it easily available at a moment’s notice. Head to kettleandfire.com/chris to get $10 off your first order.

Copper Status Show Notes

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

0.00.35       Cliff Notes
0.10:25       A case of copper deficiency?
0.14.00       Biochemical and physiological roles of copper
0:18:55       Copper's intimate relationship with iron
0:30:10      What is the best marker of copper status?
0:33:38      Effect of inflammation on ceruloplasmin
0:35:10       Effect of estrogen on ceruloplasmin
0:43:18       Causes of deficiency
0:43:50       How much copper do we need?
0:43:45       Best food sources
0:48:30     Variation within food sources according to soil
0:51:00      Zinc supplementation
0:51:53      Digestive problems
1:00:52     How to treat deficiency
1:02:01      Which form of copper to use?
1:04:10       Toxicity: copper-mediated oxidative stress
1:05:22        Wilson's Disease
1:08:15        Infants and copper absorption
1:11:00       Contribution of water
1:16:50       One case of supplement megadosing leading to liver failure
1:17:30       Toxicity claims based on serum Cu or serum ZN/CU ratio are not reliable
1: 20:50     Summing up

Copper in Foods and Supplements

Liver, oysters, shiitake mushrooms, spirulina and cocoa powder are all very high in copper. Decent amounts are found in other organ meats and shellfish, other mushrooms and seaweed, potatoes, legumes, and whole grains.

Above all, eat liver once a week, because liver covers a multitude of deficiencies.

You can find a more extensive list of copper-rich foods by going to nutritiondata.com, selecting “tools” in the upper left, then “nutrient search tool,” then “foods that are highest in copper,” and then limit your search to a specific category of foods to prevent getting blasted with foods you don't care about.

Copper contents of each food vary widely, however, according to the amount of copper in soil and water. As such, nutritional databases should be used with great caution.

This review provides a more detailed summary of its distribution of foods, as well as a table showing its variation within particular foods.

I only recommend supplementing with copper in the case of fixing a verified deficiency. In any other case, 1 mg per day is a reasonable hedge against deficiency from unknown variation within foods, but I would not supplement with more than that. You can take 2-3 mg two to three times a week to reach that average from a higher-dose supplement.

In this case report of Celiac-induced copper deficiency associated with anemia and neutropenia, a multivitamin providing roughly 6.68 mg per day of copper sulfate reversed the hematological abnormalities in two months. The supplement they used contained 3.34 mg per tablet and they used one tablet twice per day.

Most multivitamins do not have that much copper. They often have 0.5 mg or 2 mg. If you are not conscientious about eating nutrient-dense foods, or if you have digestive issues that could be compromising the absorption of multiple nutrients, a supplement containing at least 2 mg per tablet 2-3 times per day for two months should be used to resolve a clear case of copper deficiency.

However, I think it is better to use nutrient-dense foods and to supplement copper on top of that. This copper sulfate costs $21.99 per bottle and is available for Prime free one-day shipping through Amazon. 40 drops provides 7 mg of copper, and at this dose a bottle would last 28 days. Taking it for two months to fix a copper deficiency would require two bottles and thus a total expenditure of just under $44.

There are less expensive forms of copper sulfate that are not sold for use as a supplement, but I am not sure if they are safe to consume.

It is actually less expensive to use an amino acid chelate, and it is possibly more effective. Solgar's copper glycinate is cost-effective and available at similar prices from Amazon and iHerb. It is slightly less expensive at iHerb but available for Prime free one-day shipping from Amazon. Three tablets per day would provide 7.5 mg, and at that dose a bottle would last 33 days. Taking the dose for two months would require two bottles, which, at the Amazon price of $8.86 per bottle, would cost a total of just under $18.

The evidence that copper glycinate is more effective than copper sulfate is weak. For example, it is 40% more effective in steers. There seem to be very few comparisons in humans, none of which examine the relative ability to fix a copper deficiency.

Copper Status Links and Research

The copper chapter of Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease is a great starting place for anyone who is scientifically inclined. This is one of the few textbooks I was required to purchase in school and found so useful I kept as a cherished reference. When the most recent edition came out, I bought the Kindle version, which is incredibly easy to navigate and take notes from compared to the hardcover version of the previous addition that I also still have.

Methods of assessment of copper status in humans: a systematic review.

Dietary copper and human health: Current evidence and unresolved issues.

Inflammation regulates ceruloplasmin.

Estrogen status regulates ceruloplasmin and serum copper.

Pregnancy regulates ceruloplasmin, serum copper, and the zinc-to-copper ratio.

Inflammation moves zinc from plasma into cells.

Risk assessment for excess copper consumption due to soil contamination in the European Union.

World Health Organization report on copper in drinking water.

An argument that copper toxicity is a major contributor to Alzheimer's, and a counter-argument that the opposite is true.

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60 Comments

  1. Trying to find information about how to deal w copper iud poisoning and how to rebalance minerals after removal.

  2. Thanks for all the work Chris! This is the best knowledge roundup around copper deficiency I’ve encountered. If you might have time to give a quick opinion on my situation around copper, it would be amazing.

    I’ve had worsening symptoms for seven years now. My serum copper is 12umol/l (14-23 ref.) and Ceruloplasmin is 170mg/l (200-600 ref.). The doctors ruled Wilson’s disease as unlikely because my urine copper is low. Also there is no copper accumulation seen in eye exams or in the MRI’s of my brain or liver.

    I seem to have many symptoms that could all fit to anemia caused by copper deficiency: a difficult insomnia, headaches, can’t handle physical or mental stress, constant tinnitus, almost all foods make symptoms worse, shortness of breath and restless legs. All iron blood levels are pretty well inside referenge ranges.

    So the symptoms and blood values could point towards copper deficiency. But whenever I try to take a 2mg copper supplement, I can only sleep for 4-5 hours the following night. Could this happen with copper deficiency or does the worsening of my insomnia indicate that I wouldn’t have a copper deficiency? I also get insomnia and headaches from liver and chocolate.

    1. Did you ever figure this out Lauri? I’m in the same boat — low, but in-range serum copper and ceruloplasmin that I’m correcting with short-term supplementation but it definitely makes sleep hard.

    2. You might look into copper metabolism and biounavailable copper vs bio copper. Theres a difference etween different copper variants and how the body handles it. You can have a copper deficiency (of bioavailable) copper and too much biounavailable copper (from most ordinary copper supplements) at the same time. Explaining why youre getting even worse when supplementing with normal copper supplements

  3. Thank you for this information cast. I got a copper IUD put in last year and had some strange symptoms: strong aversion to red meat (I threw up burgers, which I used to love), acne a month later, and this year my migraines have increased in frequency. However, around the time I got the copper IUD, I was diagnosed with iron deficiency and began taking iron a month after getting the IUD. I’m starting to think all these symptoms are from copper; I have seen only one study where women’s serum Cu was elevated with the IUD and to compensate the body absorbed more zinc.

    What do you think about this? And how can I approach fixing this issue? It is unfortunately the only form of birth control I can use.

    Thanks!

  4. Hi Chris,

    I enjoyed the podcast. I think you mentioned that Copper Sulfate could be used to supplement copper. When I looked it up, I didn’t find any “supplements” per se. Mostly it was being sold as an Algaecide (99% pure). Is that pure enough to use as a supplement? Any sources of supplements you are aware of? Looks like the hydrous form is 25% Copper by weight.

    Related question, how well is Copper stored by the body? Would liver once every couple of weeks work to increase copper levels.? From a preparation standpoint I find it far easier to cook at least 1/2 pound of liver at a time. And I’d normally eat that over a day or two.

  5. Hi Chris, have you read this article on the BMJ/Open Heart website which says that LEUCOCYTE copper is a better marker for copper deficiency than serum/plasma levels:

    https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/2/e000784

    “Further, leucocyte copper appears to be a better marker for copper status than does plasma copper.” Not sure how you would go about arranging that test though if the NHS etc only test serum levels.

    That article is quite scary in the list of problems that copper deficiency can cause, especially concerning heart disease, so it is vitally important to measure it accurately when testing. But as you say, supplementing with 0.5 – 1mg on a regular basis would be a fairly safe way to top up levels in case of deficiency, especially if taking zinc tablets aswell.

  6. This was informative, but frustrating. There are thousands of women now, likely many more who aren’t talking about their health problems, who have very high copper from a copper IUD or birth control. I’m looking for information on how to fix the issues caused by high copper, like digestive issues, etc. Would love to listen to a podcast like this focused on high copper rather than copper deficiency. Easy for a man to say, “Don’t engage in unreasonable copper supplementation” when men don’t have a uterus for doctors to implant a copper IUD into. Doctors need to be informed of these side effects of high copper, and inform patients, BEFORE implanting copper inside of a human. I don’t see how you can make a blanket statement like, “It’s highly unlikely they are getting too much copper.” When obviously vegetarians tend to have higher copper than meat eaters, add birth control into the mix, and I’d say it’s highly likely some women have extremely high copper levels.

    1. Well of course these doctors should be studying and explaining these issues, but getting a copper IUD is also a choice, just like anyone else taking a supplement or engaging in any other procedure is.

      The copper, I suspect, is local there. I will need to study the issue more and address it better in the future. Thank you for raising it.

      1. Dr. Mensah says that bound tissue copper is not the issue, only free copper is, in terms of causing problems and pain. It seems unclear to me whether high tissue copper burden is a direct result of free copper in the bloodstream building up in tissues or if it is a problem that happens when copper is taken up by metallothionens in the absence of adequate zinc and deposited by them in the tissues (as per Dr. Purser).

        I would also be inclined to think an IUD would lead more to local probems but I have many friends who were on the copper IUD and felt all sorts of terrible systemic problems from it, not just local pain. Extreme exhaustion is one thing they experienced (maybe from too much dopamine being converted to norepinephrine and depleting the adrenals?), as well as a lot of psychosomatic and emotional imbalances.

  7. Thank you, Chris, for all this quality information.

    I didn’t see you address copper IUDs or hormonal birth control in detail, which is often seen as causative of many women’s “copper toxicity” (usually described as simultaneous copper deficiency with high tissue copper from low ceruloplasmin, ie, biounavailable copper). I was already beginning to question all the hype around copper toxicity (maybe because I cured my migraines using copper).

    My gallbladder pain has also mostly resolved since supplementing 3.5 mg of copper a day in the morning, and 10 mg of zinc in evening. I prefer a 1/3 ratio of copper to zinc so your article was confirming of that. Taking just a 1/15 copper/zinc supplement doesn’t represent a balanced intake. I doubt much of the copper gets absorbed in the presence of that much zinc.

    There seems to be a definite bias overall towards the importance of zinc, despite the fact it can cause serious problems through supplementation even at low levels. My teeth enamel started to get seriously eroded from zinc supps (probably because my enamel was already thin due to copper deficiency I was unaware of at the time).

    I’m hoping you can clarify the last sentence in your comment, “Depending on age, whenever you compare women who are taking estrogen preparations to those who are not, you’re going to see ceruloplasmin that’s between 30% and 90% higher. Similarly, pregnancy can double ceruloplasmin, and lactation has a significant but weaker effect. Generally across the board, these are reflected in weaker increases in total serum copper.” Are you talking about weaker increases in free copper? Because it seems like if estrogens cause an increase in copper then the total serum copper would reflect that too, assuming total serum copper includes copper bound to ceruloplasmin.

    I also found Dr. Klinghardt’s opinion on copper toxicity and vitamin C interesting: “Current nutritional teachings are misinformed on the topic of copper toxicity. The immune system uses copper and iron to fight infections associated with Lyme disease. As a result, oxidized copper is displaced in the connective tissue and may appear as though the patient is copper toxic by some testing methods when in fact copper supplementation may be appropriate. High dose Vitamin C has the effect of changing copper to a form that can be reused by the body. ”
    https://www.publichealthalert.org/kpuhpu-a-major-piece-of-the-puzzle-in-overcoming-chronic-lyme-disease.html

    And to confirm what you are saying about zinc depleting copper more than vice versa:
    “Metallothionein has a stronger affinity for copper than zinc, so high levels of metallothionein induced by excess zinc cause a decrease in copper absorption. In contrast, high copper intakes have not been found to affect zinc nutritional status.”
    https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper

    Any idea if glycine reduces copper? It is also great for aborting migraine, along with niacin, which lowers copper. I sometimes wonder if migraine is caused by low estrogen (and hence, copper). Estrogen dips dramatically on day 3 of menstruation, when many women get menstrual migraine. Perhaps this dip leads to a dip in ceruloplasmin too, and more free copper in the blood with less availalable for ATP and breakdown of biogenic amines, hence migraine.

    The following studies are also insightful to this discussion:

    “Relevance of serum copper elevation induced by oral contraceptives: a meta-analysis.”
    “A role for low hepatic copper concentrations in nonalcoholic Fatty liver disease.”
    “Dysregulation of iron and copper homeostasis in nonalcoholic fatty liver”

    1. Hi Marya,

      I don’t recommend a 1:15 ratio for supplementing copper. I recommend that supplement for *zinc* not copper and I would not recommend someone with copper deficiency use it without additional copper from elsewhere.

      No, I said total copper and meant total copper. Almost no one gets free copper measured and the accuracy of the measurements that exist are not agreed on widely.

      Estrogen increases ceruloplasmin, which binds copper in serum. So total copper in serum should increase, and presumably bound copper would increase at the expense of free copper.

      I don’t know if glycine lowers copper. Both glycine and niacin absorb extra methyl groups though.

      Interesting hypothesis on the estrogen and copper dip.

  8. Spirulina is highly loaded with Vitamins B-1, B-2 , B-3, vitamin E, and Vitamin K1 and K2, Minerals, chromium, copper, magnesium, , and zinc that play a beneficial role in promoting healthy skin, help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, fight against diabetes and ect.
    Thanks for Sharing nice post.

  9. Hi Chris,

    What can be inferred about copper status if someone has normal levels of serum copper, but low levels of ceruloplasmin? Does this mean that they are copper deficient?

    Thank you in advance!

  10. Chris – Would you please add a comment here with your update for a good serum copper level since the lab serum levels are so wide? (See Rob’s comment from Feb. 24. Back on April 7 you said “Hi Rob, this was a major oversight of mine. I will do some more research and update my recommendation to be more quantitative.” I would sincerely appreciate it as I am dealing with low copper right now and would greatly appreciate better info! Thanks much!

  11. Can you suggest what a high ceruloplasmin would mean? Does it mean that copper is deficient in the body or something else?

  12. Carl. Shame we can’t edit replies but looks like there are a few other causes of low ceruplasmin such as malabsorption, certain liver diseases, protein-losing enteropathies, and hereditary aceruloplasminem but I think these would have been pretty obvious to pick up by your doctor and I doubt they’ll be many a person out there giving them selves copper toxicity despite low ceruplasmin

  13. Sorry correction – Carl, I shouldn’t have advised you to take more copper as you said it was in the normal range. I was a little confused as originally you stated you had copper deficiency and then I reread you were bottom range. I personally wouldn’t take more copper as long it was normal (bottom range still being normal) unless I was expecting further losses.

  14. I have copper deficiency including multiple low serum copper tests, low ceruplasmin , low 24 hour urine copper. I have neutropenia and have had upper limb neuropathy. I have had a negative gastroscopy for coeliac. Despite what I read in the internet and from research papers (and being a chocoholic) I am unable to get my copper serum to go up more than 1 umol/L in a year of oral supplemtation of at least 5mg a day (initially it was 8mg but I am now unable to tolerate it due to it causing epigastric pain-I use the Solgar chelate). My iron levels , cobalt , manganese are normal implying that I am able to absorb these other elements without problems. I have now resorted to importing Cupric chloride IV to Australia at a cost of $1400AU for 25 vials !! My best guess is that I’m sweating it out with the 8-10 hours of cycling a week I do and being a known heavy sweater. Obviously I don’t want to be spending $1400 every time my copper goes down again. What do you think about the possibility of using a 2 or 5% copper sulphate spray on my skin ? Do you think if I used it regularly it would bring my copper levels up without being harmful to the skin. Obviously I would be monitoring by serum copper regularly to prevent overdose. Any advice you could give would be appreciated

    1. I don’t know Stuart, you could try it and see what happens. Measure carefully to avoid any kind of overdose. It sounds like you might have a problem with a copper transporter.

    2. Hi Stuart.

      I’m suffering from persistent Cu deficiency. Tried Cu 2mg/daily, plus many natural foods high in Cu, like nuts, seeds, cocoa, etc. Nothing worked to elevate my bottom of range Cu.

      One lab finding that I’ve noticed during many recent lab tests, is low (again bottom line of normal range is Cp – Ceruloplasmin). That’s the Cu carrier in the body.

      From what I understood, in various reputable medical sources, is that as long as Cp is deficient, no matter how much Cu intake, the Cu level will not recover, without elevating it’s main blood carrier.

      In fact, continuing to take extra Cu, without resolving the Cp def. status, may lead to Cu toxicity! as it will wreck havoc on body, when goes in free circulation (without its natural carrier – i.e. Cp).

      As you would expect, I been looking for ways to increase Cp. Yet still in bottom end of normal range. Very frustrating.

      *Some non-medical sources claim that extra vitamin D supplementation is one of the main causes of low Cp. In fact I been taking 50,000 IU D weekly for some months. My vit. D level recovered so well, it is now in the optimal state. Yet probably at the cost of upsetting the delicate balance of other essential enzymes, nutrients.

      Good luck

      1. Chris, it’s possible it’s a transporter problem but I feel it’s unlikely as my other divalent cations are normal. I think I’ll try the skin treatment and have 3 monthly tests.
        Carl, can you name those reputable sources ? All articles I’ve read and associated text books state that ceruplasmin goes low in copper deficiency ? 2mg per day is only a small amount of copper and not enough to resolve copper deficiency certainly in the short term so it’s no surprise your ceruplasmin hasn’t improved. The example you state relates to Wilson disease and as far as I know no other. I could be wrong. Wilsons disease being a genetic disease with low ceruplasmin. Copper toxicity with low ceruplasmin is also likely to show high 24 hour urinary copper. You should get that checked if you haven’t already. If it’s low you just need to take more copper.

  15. HI Chris,
    thank you again for the information.
    Can elevated copper (140) and 1,25(OH)2D (90) be somehow connected? I don’t supplement vitamin D.
    I have 90% of the symptoms associated with Copper toxicity, which are NEW to me. I don’t drink tap water.

  16. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for your earlier reply. Could you please help answer two seemingly simple, questions regarding Cu status.

    (1) Is it true, that excess intake of Cu supplements (2-4 mg/day), plus consumption of high Cu foods, such as: cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, etc. All on daily basis, for “many” months, causes Cu to “show up”! in lab blood test as deficiency?

    Put another way, excess intake of Cu, results in low Cu lab readings!

    Quote from Mayo Clinic: “other disorders associated with decreased serum copper concentrations include malnutrition, hypoproteinemia, malabsorption, nephrotic syndrome, Menkes disease, copper toxicity”.

    Link: http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8612

    (2) That “deficiency of Ceruloplasmin is strongly associated with copper toxicity”.

    Link: https://metabolichealing.com/copper-toxicity-major-epidemic/

    Carl

    1. Carl, no I don’t think that would happen. Note that most true copper toxicity is due to genetic disorders of copper distribution such as Wilson’s and Menkes. It’s conceivable that in an acute toxicity you’d get oxidative stress and damage that could lower blood copper, but I don’t think you would be anywhere near that range from the amounts of copper you discuss.

      1. Thank you Chris.

        Over the past couple of weeks, stopped all Cu supplement + foods high in Cu. Done another Cp test, and the level of Ceruloplasmin went up, from ‘bottom’ of range to 1/3 lower end of range. Meaning, noticeable elevation in levels.

        One need not say this, but as I struggled for some time with health issues, related to hi/low this and that vitamin/mineral. And seeing people around me, from all walks of life, eat normal diets (some junk food!) and lead healthy lives (can tell from their face, skin, hair, etc..). That nature didn’t intend for us to use supplements on regular basis, let alone, that we take “single” nutrient on an ongoing basis, without close monitoring by dedicated specialists/nutritionists/physicians.

        “Single nutrient ingestion therapy”, even in specific cases of deficiency can be detrimental to health, in more serious ways, than one can imagine.

        Years back, when I was binge drinker, I used to take many pills a day (vitamins A,B,C, Multi-minerals), etc. My body needed all the above. Yet since 3 years, when quit alcohol, and eating healthy diet, I do not need to supplement anything. With healthy foods, I am only adding chemical compounds, adding more strain on a previously exhausted liver. I have fatty liver.

        Our bodies are made up of the most complex balance of nutrients (minerals, vitamins, amino acids, etc). Single nutrient therapy is very high risk endeavor, as I mentioned above. No matter what gov. agencies, medical labs etc say, no one person has same chemical makeup like of another. Just like fingerprints. For nutritionists to say, “if you have, say, deficiency of Zn, Ca, Mg ..etc, then you should take xxx mg of it”, without taking into consideration, host of complex variables (like body weight, lifestyle, genetic makeup, etc, etc), is useless, if not plain dangerous.

        I been thinking of stopping all supps, and simply consuming normal diet (plus sun exposure) and see how my overall state of health going to be, compared to life ‘with’ supplements.

        I guess, the saying, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, rings true! Will see.

        Have a great weekend.

        Carl

      2. Hi,

        Thanks for the information. Other than supplements, what do you suggest to increase serum copper and Ceruloplasmin? My serum
        Copper is around 50 and my Ceruloplasmin is 9. I have taken around 8-10mg of copper supplements a day for 8 months and no change. I definitely think it’s causing a histamine intolerance because I’ve become very sensitive to food and lost about 20 pounds. We’ve ruled out Wilson’s because my 24 hour urine copper was normal.

  17. Hi Chris, further to Rob’s Question above, I couldn’t see if/where you’d posted your recommended reference range for serum copper. Please can you advise, thanks?

  18. Hi Chris.

    Initial reading in vit D 15 ng. Sorry, the Bx was in ref to B Complex, 50 mg/day.

    I’m not looking for miracle cure, remedy. But I am 99% sure that the Zn/Cu imbalance is playing havoc with my thyroid, hence overall health (puffy face, excessive sweating when others are cold, very dry hair, constipation, slightly over weight abdomen area, etc). Again the TSH result, another puzzle, always comes within normal lab range.

  19. Hello,

    Been searching, researching web for many months. Trying to find answer to this health issue:

    Over a year ago, diagnosed with severe vitamin D deficiency. While my retinol (A) level was at the high end of range. Health, at that time, was good. No complaint.

    Started vitamin D supplementation 50,000 IU/week. For 1 year.

    After 6 months my D level shot up to 60 ng. My A level which was 98 mcg/dl, went down to 50 mcg/dl.

    Other tests, done and repeated over past 3 months:

    *Cu > Very low.
    Fe > Normal.
    *Ferittin > Very low.
    *CP > at bottom end of range.

    Present symptoms (since 5 months):
    – sparse hair loss (with very dry, brittle texture).
    – obstinate constipation (despite taking laxative on daily basis).
    – chronic insomnia.
    – irritability, nervousness.

    I diagnosed myself, as having Cu deficiency. Embarked on supplementing with 2-3mg/day. Plus eating all kinds of high Cu foods (nuts, sesame seeds, cocoa, etc). I’d estimate my daily intake between 6-8 mg Cu/day.

    Separately, was taking: 500 mg vitamin C, 50 mg Bx, 15 mg Zn.

    Daily diet, high in Cu foods (above mentioned) yet also contained high vitamin C foods, like Oranges, Mangoes, Lemons, Onions/Garlic, etc.

    The Cu, CP readings are still extremely low, as I say. And I’m sure they are the cause of my symptoms. Yet do not know how to resolve this medical condition (my doctor shows no concern over severely depleted Cu, CP levels. Said, they would only be a worry, If I had inherited diseases like Wilsons, etc).

    My main goal is raising CP (Ceruloplasmin). I believe this deficiency is the root cause of all other issues, and abnormal lab readings.

    There are anecdotal mention here and there, about people becoming deficient in Cu, of they consume too much of Cu! Or that excessive Cu consumption shows up as low CP reading?

    Please help with your thoughts. Thank you.

    Carl

    1. Hi Carl,

      You don’t say what your initial D was, but the drop in A is not surprising.

      Sounds like your conclusion of copper deficiency is correct. I don’t know what Bx is. Zn and C are contraindicated in the case of Cu deficiency. You may wish to find another doctor who isn’t so ignorant of nutrition. You may want to look at your digestive health. PPIs, antacids, and any digestive problems affecting the upper GI tract can cause copper deficiency.

    2. Check out Morley Robbins, he has the exact answer to your issues. Bottom line: STOP vitamin D (your low levels are a just a sign of magnesium deficiency), and start adding retinol and magnesium to your diet: liver (daily, small amounts) and a mineral water with a high magnesium content

  20. Hi Chris, great blog – refreshing to see someone paint the entire picture.

    I suspect I’ve driven my copper levels low due to excess zinc (supp) + inadequate copper in the diet. Anemic type symptoms following a period of time I was using 30-60mg of zinc per night. (I haven’t done that in over a year btw, but the low copper-ish symptoms are still lingering to a degree).

    If I want to supplement with a little bit of copper (1-2mg) to replenish, do I drop the zinc completely or can I continue taking a small amount alongside (10-15mg zinc)

    Thank you.

    1. I would not make any such decisions without measuring your blood markers, but if you verify the Cu deficiency I would cut out the Zn while fixing it.

  21. A lot of interesting information. What do you think about supplements with copper in the form of chlorophyll?

    1. I see no harm in them, but I don’t think it would make any difference in its ability to correct a copper deficiency.

      1. I have been wondering the same thing. I recently ran out of chlorophyll, ended up with severe SIBO pain and what appeared to be MCAD. I was having an allergic reaction to everything I ate. I got desperate and purchased PEA (Palmitolyethanolamide) which settled it all down but have now added chlorophyll back in and no more problems. I also consume beef liver but can’t find it now due to drought so missing out on the copper there. I wonder if I should still supplement copper on top of the cholorophyll?

        1. I started to have histamine intolerance/mast cell problems about 7 years ago after a period of reducing copper (with molybdenum and zinc) because I was advised that it was high. What’s confusing is that ever since I started having histamine problems, copper supplements aggravate my symptoms. Do you believe that chlorophyllin works differently than regular copper supplements?

          1. Hi Jeun,
            I have MCAD too. I use chlorophyllin, take a copper supplement occasionally and eat grass fed beef liver once a week. I really should increase it to twice as the beef liver is the best source of natural copper. You only need 4oz every 4-5 days.

  22. Chris, it would have been nice to describe ceruloplasmin synthesis which I’ve unfortunatelly didn’t find described anywhere. :'( Btw, I’ve just found out that e.g. lithium (that alleviates quite a lot of mental disorders – not a coincidence?) has an impact on that – how unexpected.

    1. Michal– do you have any research citations on the connection between ceruloplasmin and lithium? Due to a pathological heterozygous CP variant I’m researching ceruloplasmin synthesis too. Trying to understand my copper synthesis and my heme synthesis. I’m out of range low ceruloplasmin (I carry a pathological CP variant) low normal serum copper and very low normal ferritin with high normal hemoglobin. (Physician had me try to supplement with copper and iron but that just triggers my MCAD-primary).

      Chris-nice summary here. It’s been hard to find a clinician who knows much about copper synthesis.

  23. Great information Chris and on a topic that no one really discusses in detail. You say serum copper is the best marker but as far as I could tell you didn’t say what you believe the best levels are. The lab markers for normal are pretty wide do you believe as long as someone is within that range (72-166ug/dl) from a blood marker perspective there arent any red flags (mine is 92)?

    1. Hi Rob, this was a major oversight of mine. I will do some more research and update my recommendation to be more quantitative.

  24. It’s rare too find blogs about the importance of copper in health. Thank you.

    I have iron overload, and have brought some of the blood markers into normal range by increasing copper. Only ferritin remains too high.

    There are studies that discuss the importance of copper enzymes for iron regulation.

    It’s great to see you bring this up, I’ve learned a lot.

    1. Methylation, perhaps indirectly. Dopamine, directly. All neurotransmitters are affected by copper via monoamine and diamine oxidases.

      1. Thanks so much! For some reason I never got notified of this reply even I though I checked that option and found it just now on accident!

  25. Hey Chris,

    If you tend to have higher iron (similar to how you described your iron panels), is it safe to assume you have ample copper? Or can too litttle copper lead to accumulation of iron if not metabolized properly?

    Thanks
    Chris

    1. Chris,

      That is not a safe assumption at all, and copper deficiency will make iron overload more dangerous.

      Chris

  26. that is interesting, in my work i mostly see clients with zinc deficiencies, which leads to out of balance copper. If they are vegetarian they are getting to much copper and not zinc.

    1. Marlese, it is plausible that they are not getting enough zinc, but highly unlikely they are getting too much copper.

  27. I’ve tried twice to subscribe to notifications for your transcript for the copper talk. Twice your software told me to check email for your message. There’s no message from you in any of my email folders. How can I get your transcripts?

    1. Hi Lynn,

      You probably have your spam filter catching the confirmation email. I would search your mail, including your spam folder, for chris@chrismasterjohnphd.com and you should find it.

      That said, the transcript of this episode should be up tomorrow.

      Chris

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