Have you been suffering with lethargy, mood imbalances, wired but too tired to do anything half the time? You may have the best diet in town, organic, green superfoods concoction with all your favourite antioxidants and phytonutrients but something still doesn’t feel quite right with your health. You may be suffering with copper toxicity.
While copper is a necessary trace element needed for energy production, too much can cause vague symptoms that can be easily missed or disguised as another condition.
Copper is actually found in healthy food sources, it just needs to be balanced out with zinc rich foods also. Zinc and copper could have a loving relationship when all is balanced, life is cruisy, however if copper starts dominating the relationship, it’s time to start reassessing the need for zinc to stand up for himself!
Which foods contain copper?
Copper food sources are chocolate, coffee, avocado, leafy greens, wheat, coconut, soy and prawns. High copper foods can give you a quick buzz which is why they can be addictive at the time.
However if you are suffering with adrenal stress or fatigue, then this may put a strain on your body making it hard to break down copper via your liver, so your body stores it in excess. In order for the body to clear it out, we need zinc and a carrier protein called metallothionein.
What are the symptoms of copper toxicity?
Copper is known as the “emotional mineral” because too much stimulates the nervous system. Symptoms can include:
* Foggy mind, depression, anxiety, racing thoughts, memory loss
* Headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, PMS , allergies, skin rashes
People who have schizophrenia, autism, tourette syndrome, pyrolles disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and suicidal tendencies often have shown to exhibit high copper levels.
Who is most at risk for copper toxicity?
Vegetarians or Vegans – Zinc foods help to balance out high levels of copper, foods high in zinc include meat especially grass fed beef, free range chicken, oysters and eggs.
Hence vegetarians with low zinc status can feel wired, anxious, racing thoughts and may suffer with insomnia. Zinc is the calming nutrient that eases the stimulating effects of copper.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill
The pill can increase copper toxicity due to its synthetic oestrogen action that causes the body to retain copper according to Briden L (2015). As copper and zinc compete for absorption, copper wins the race and thus zinc is knocked out, leading some women to experience a different more negative side of them self on the pill.
For example some patients report feeling detached, anxious, or snappy. Other nutrients that the pill can deplete are vitamin C and Vitamin B these two essential nutrients are needed for adrenal health and immunity.
Hormonal Imbalances – Oestrogen Excess
Copper and oestrogen work together as they both feed off each other. If one is high then the other will elevate also. Symptoms of oestrogen dominance may include heavy periods, fibroids, endometriosis, and PMS. Liver support and regulating zinc levels can help to break down the excess oestrogens and copper.
Could your water be contaminated?
Contaminated water from copper pipes can increase copper levels if the pH of the water is in a toxic range, this can weaken the lining of the copper pipes. Also if your plumber notices a bluish tinge around the pipes then this may indicate copper excess.
How can I find out if I have a copper imbalance?
Talk to your naturopath at Empowered Health about your current symptoms and we can assess if you need further testing. Copper testing may include a Red blood cell mineral test, Hair mineral analysis, and Zinc mineral testing. Important to note, that it is essential to find an experienced naturopath that can interpret the results as they can be extremely confusing to interpret if not understood.
Briden L (2015) Period repair manual, natural treatment for better hormones and better periods.
Wilson L (2016) Copper and your health, Wilson consultants