Are you dealing with copper toxicity? You may very well be and have no idea! Copper toxicity is unfortunately something we in The Organic Dietitian practice see more and more frequently among clients. It’s an incredibly sneaky root cause of…
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Are you dealing with copper toxicity?
You may very well be and have no idea!
Copper toxicity is unfortunately something we in The Organic Dietitian practice see more and more frequently among clients. It’s an incredibly sneaky root cause of many different ailments and symptoms. Fortunately, once it’s properly identified, it can be properly addressed.
In this blog post, we explore all the ins and outs of copper toxicity:
- What is copper toxicity?
- Who should consider copper toxicity? What are the symptoms?
- What causes copper toxicity?
- How can you address copper toxicity?
What is copper toxicity?
Interestingly, copper deficiency and copper toxicity can have similar symptoms. But what we have to understand is that most copper deficiency in the West is actually caused by copper toxicity! This is because copper can be high in the body but it is bio-unavailable because of its location in soft tissues, like the liver and brain. So in short, it is there in large amounts but the body isn’t able to utilize it.
It is actually thought that a very small amount of the population has a true copper deficiency and the majority of people have a deficiency of bioavailable copper stemming from excess exposure or accumulation (more on this soon). We call this a “hidden” copper toxicity.
Excess copper acts as an excitotoxin, and as the copper level builds up, the adrenals eventually weaken from over stimulation.
This in turn leads to an eventual decline in the liver’s production of ceruloplasmin (a protein which binds to copper to make it bioavailable); and without adequate ceruloplasmin to bind to the copper, excess copper then gets stored in a bio-unavailable form in soft tissue – creating a deficiency condition.
In other words, the more copper the body accumulates (toxicity), the more likely the eventual deficiency of bioavailable (usable) copper. So it isn’t so cut and dry.
Who should consider copper toxicity? What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of copper toxicity can include emotional and mental health symptoms such as (note there can be many factors that contribute to mental health symptoms, this is just one consideration):
- Racing mind (feeling “wired but tired”)
- Panic attacks, anxiety, or ruminating negative thoughts
- Lack of concentration
- Memory loss
- Manic mood swings
- Confusion or paranoia
But it doesn’t end there. Other symptoms of copper toxicity include:
- Candida / yeast infections
- Fatigue and “adrenal fatigue”
- Hair loss
- Chocolate cravings
- Allergies and mold sensitivity
- Lowered immunity
- Joint aches and pains
- Excessive PMS symptoms
- Loss of sex drive
- Lower metabolism rate
How many of these symptoms look familiar to you? Could you be dealing with copper toxicity?
If you’re thinking the answer may be “yes,” you’re also likely thinking….
What causes copper toxicity?
How do you get copper toxic? Where does the copper come from?
First of all, it’s important to note that you don’t actually have to be exposed to a large amount of copper to become copper toxic. Let’s try to break it down a bit….
In utero exposure to copper
It can get passed down in utero. Meaning if your birth mother was copper toxic then she could pass it along to you before you are even born. This is one big reason why copper toxicity is becoming more of an issue — we continue to pass it down from generation to generation.
Exposure to synthetic estrogen
This includes hormonal birth control as well as “xenoestrogens” or toxic man made chemicals that mimic estrogen. Even if you took birth control for a while and stopped many years ago, that copper can still be an issue unless you have actively worked to address it.
Related Post: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going on Birth Control
Becoming more and more common, copper IUDs can unfortunately cause copper excess and toxicity.
If you live somewhere with copper pipes and you drink or shower with the water without a proper filter, you’re likely getting a daily dose of copper.
Vegan and vegetarian diets
Plant-based diets are high in copper and low in bioavailable zinc, which balances copper levels. Stomach acid can also be decreased, impacting mineral absorption and potentially copper levels.
This is a BIG problem for many since excessive stress contributes to adrenal insufficiency and excessive stress is rampant these days!
Your adrenals help your liver produce ceruloplasmin, a copper transport protein. Copper needs this protein to be eliminated from the body. So as adrenals weaken, this biounavailable copper can’t be utilized by your cells and will start to get stored in places like your liver and brain — now the liver is even less capable of properly detoxing metals.
Vitamins and supplements
Some vitamins and supplements include copper. Many supplements may include certain other minerals that are creating more mineral imbalances can lead to an excessive amount of copper. This is why it is imperative that you always supplement smartly and with the guidance of a knowledgeable practitioner.
Some occupations increase exposure to heavy metals, including copper.
How can you address copper toxicity?
It’s easy to think that a quick “detox” protocol or taking a zinc supplement will be enough to address copper toxicity. But these are rarely sufficient and can sometimes do more harm than good!
NOTE: Please keep in mind that you MUST work with a TRAINED professional on this. You should definitely not try to do it yourself because it can be dangerous and mistakes can be made that can make you feel much worse. Learn about working with The Organic Dietitian Team and apply to do so here.
To properly address copper toxicity, you must:
1) Assessing your minerals with a hair tissue mineral analysis test
Each and every one of our clients take this incredibly valuable test — learn more about it here.
You must work on balancing other key minerals first. When mineral deficiencies or imbalances are present your body will more easily retain heavy metals like copper. There are numerous minerals you need to work on, not just zinc — calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, molybdenum, and manganese.
This will also support your metabolism and ability to push out metals from soft tissues. Check in on your minerals regularly (by retesting with your practitioner) to track progress and make adjustments.
2) Reduce your exposure to heavy metals
Consider the sources of copper exposure discussed above and which may be relevant to you. How can you reduce your exposure to these sources?
3) Support your liver, gallbladder, and bile
A properly functioning liver and gallbladder, with healthy, free-flowing bile, will help ensure copper and other toxins are being properly eliminated from your body.
Related Post: Keep Your Liver Healthy with these 5 Support Tools
4) Support gut health
Gut health is a key factor for any form of toxicity. First of all, it’s imperative that your digestive system is properly absorbing nutrients and minerals that will promote an overall balance. Secondly, the digestive system is a key detox pathway — a daily bowel movement ensures those toxins being eliminated by the liver through the bile are being properly expelled.
Related Post: Beyond Probiotics: 10 Key Factors in Healing your Gut
5) Reduce stress and support adrenal health
Your adrenals help your liver produce ceruloplasmin which is a copper transport protein. Copper needs a protein like this to help get out of the body. As adrenals weaken then this biounavailable copper can’t be utilized by your cells and will start to get stored in places like your liver and brain. Now the liver is even more impared to help detox metals.
Grab Our FREE Guide: 15 Ways to Support Your Adrenals
6) Prioritize nutrient-dense and organic foods as much as possible
Not only is a nutrient-dense diet a source of key minerals, but organic foods also tend to be lower in toxic heavy metal as a result of healthier soil.
7) Be patient and consistent!
It can take time to address copper issues. For some, it may take years. So patience is key!
Client Case Study
Below is a before and after case study from one of our clients.
Meet Amy! She came to use back in March 2020 with complaints of anxiety, severe depression that got worse after she got her gallbladder removed in January (FYI- copper toxicity can also be one root cause for gallbladder issues because of its impact on estrogen- estrogen can make bile sludgy). She also had digestive issues including bloating, gas, gastritis, light colored stools that floated, saw undigested food in her stool, mood swings, fatigue that got worse during her period, insomnia, wired but tired. Any of these sound familiar?
She tried an antidepressant that didn’t help. Got blood work, and abdominal CT scan, Xrays, EKGs that were all “normal.” She tried diet changes, therapy, and journaling. She was offered birth control but didn’t want to go that route. Spending over $10K but was still suffering.
Since she knew we were well versed in gut and hormone she wanted to work with us to help her figure things out because she was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start!
But since we did the deep investigating with a full health assessment and a few function tests including a GI MAP stool test, DUTCH hormone test, but also a HTMA hair mineral test we were able to put the pieces together for her. The copper toxicity that was obvious on her first HTMA test made SO MUCH SENSE! She had answers! But we were also able to let her know exactly what she needed to do and support her every step of the way.
After our 6 month program she is now reporting a BIG decrease in her anxiety and depression. Feels clear headed for the first time in years, less foggy, reports feeling like “myself again,” gas and bloating completely gone, no more visible food in stool, increase in sustained energy levels throughout the day, hair is growing faster, less emotional, and PMS symptoms decreased and are easier to manage. There is still work to do but she is getting her life back!
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!
Do any of the symptoms of copper toxicity look familiar to you? Have you considered copper toxicity before? Are you considering it now after reading the blog post? Any questions?
Please be sure to leave a comment so we can continue supporting you in your health journey!