Copper Deficiency Symptoms

Copper is a mineral that plays a vital role in human health. Its deficiency symptoms are not severe and can be resolved by taking high-quality supplements, making it easy to avoid any severe consequences of its depletion. Though there’s no way to replenish copper from within the body, supplementing with other minerals like zinc also helps prevent deficiencies.

While the use of copper has been common since ancient times, there are some side effects to its widespread availability. While it can be difficult for doctors to pinpoint an exact time in which a patient will develop symptoms, evidence suggests these may have begun in recent years.

Copper is a mineral that is found in the body. It helps maintain healthy blood flow and nerve function. When copper levels are low, symptoms may include fatigue, poor memory, and depression. Copper deficiency symptoms can be treated with dietary changes or supplements.


Copper is an important mineral for bone, nerve, and skeletal health. As a result, despite its rarity, a copper shortage may injure the body in various ways. For example, copper is required for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells and the appropriate usage of iron and oxygen in the bloodstream.

Because the body utilizes copper regularly and cannot store enough of it, the best method to avoid a copper deficit is to eat copper-rich foods like liver, nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish, beans, some whole grains, and certain vegetables.

How can you tell if you’re deficient in copper? Some of the most frequent copper deficiency symptoms are a low amount of white blood cells called neutrophils (neutropenia), anemia, osteoporosis, and hair with less color than usual.

Copper is vital for avoiding joint and muscle discomfort since it is involved in maintaining cells associated with practically every component of the body’s tissues. As a result, it’s occasionally utilized as a natural arthritis therapy. In addition, copper is necessary for maintaining energy levels, avoiding premature aging, hormone balance, and many other functions.

Copper Deficiency and How It Affects You

For adult men and women, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for copper is 900 micrograms per day (or 0.9 milligrams per day). Most individuals in affluent countries get enough copper via their food, supplements, and drinking water from copper pipes. However, copper insufficiency is significantly more frequent among malnourished people who don’t get enough calories and don’t eat enough copper-rich foods.

A variety of factors may cause a copper deficit. Copper deficiency is a condition that may be acquired or inherited. Malnutrition, malabsorption, and high zinc consumption are all possible reasons if it’s acquired. Copper absorption may also be hampered by large iron consumption, commonly obtained via supplements. Another nutrient that interacts with copper is zinc. Copper and zinc must be in a healthy balance in the human body, much like iron, since too much zinc may deplete copper levels.

A copper shortage may also occur in persons with major digestive diseases that make it difficult to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease. A severe infancy protein deficit, prolonged infantile diarrhea (typically linked with a milk-only diet), or stomach surgery are all possible causes (where vitamin B12 deficiency may also be present). Oral contraceptives are also known to disrupt the body’s copper balance, resulting in copper levels that are either too high or too low.

What are the signs and symptoms of zinc-induced copper deficiency? Excess zinc intake may cause a copper deficit, which bone abnormalities can distinguish. Although acquired copper shortage from zinc poisoning is uncommon, research has shown that it may be detected by a bone marrow examination and further testing.

For optimal health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises getting the following quantities of copper daily, depending on your age:

  • 200 mcg/day for infants aged 0–12.
  • 300 mcg/day for children aged 1 to 3 years.
  • 900 mcg/day for adults and children over the age of four.
  • 1,300 mcg/day for pregnant and nursing women

Copper deficiency may cause the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Abnormalities of the bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Neuropathy caused by copper deficiency
  • Neutrophils are a kind of white blood cell with a low number of cells (neutropenia)
  • Infection susceptibility has increased.
  • Growth problems
  • Hair that is graying too soon or has less color than typical
  • Paleness of skin
  • Symptoms of the nervous system

How can you tell if you’re deficient in copper? You may determine whether you have an acquired copper deficit by doing a blood test. Your copper and ceruloplasmin levels are measured in this test. Ceruloplasmin is a liver protein that stores and transports the bulk of the copper mineral throughout the body.

Animals, like humans, may suffer from nutritional shortages. Copper deficiency in cattle and goats, for example, may arise and pose a problem for farmers since it impairs the health of their animals.

Copper’s Importance

As you can see, a copper shortage may lead to a slew of serious health issues. Copper is the third most abundant mineral in the body, yet it does not produce it. Instead, copper is mainly obtained via the consumption of specific foods. Copper is primarily found in people and animals’ livers, kidneys, hearts, and brains.

Are you curious about the effects of copper on the human body? It aids in the maintenance of a healthy metabolism and the development and repair of the human body. Copper aids in the formation of melanin, bone, and connective tissue. Copper is also required by the body to carry out various enzyme activities and keep connective tissue healthy. The body excretes copper via urine and bowel motions.

There are several copper advantages that have a significant impact on human health, including:

1. Helps to Maintain a Healthy Metabolism

Copper is essential for a healthy metabolism because it guarantees the standard action of numerous vital enzymes. In addition, because enzymes enable nerves to interact with one another, they are required for our multiple organ systems to keep our metabolism working efficiently. This is one of the reasons why copper enzymes are numerous in the body’s tissues with the highest metabolic activity, such as the heart, brain, and liver.

Because it influences metabolic processes, copper is beneficial to the neurological system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, and practically every other body area. In addition, it is required for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s primary fuel source. Consequently, a copper deficit may cause slow metabolism, low energy, and other symptoms of poor metabolic health.

2. Provides energy to the body

The body’s primary energy source and the fuel it operates on is ATP. Copper is produced in the mitochondria of cells, and it is required for effective ATP generation. In addition, copper aids in the reduction of molecular oxygen to water, which is a chemical process that occurs during the synthesis of ATP.

Copper also makes the protein more accessible to the body by releasing iron from the bloodstream, allowing it to be used more effectively. It’s vital for the general healing of the body’s muscles, joints, and tissue since it affects ATP and protein metabolism. It’s also necessary for keeping a high level of energy.

3. Necessary for normal brain function

According to research, copper has been shown to affect several crucial brain circuits involving the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is required by the body to keep energy levels up, maintain a positive mood and attitude, and aid concentration. In humans, dietary copper deficiency is linked to reduced dopamine levels.

Low metabolic activity, exhaustion, difficulty focusing, a bad mood, and other symptoms of copper insufficiency may arise if there isn’t enough copper in the body. This is a symptom that the copper network of reactions and metabolic pathways is failing.

4. Arthritis Symptoms May Be Helped

According to limited research, copper may assist with the pain and stiffness linked with arthritis.

People often wear copper bracelets or bands with arthritis because they think the copper may be absorbed via the skin and help alleviate painful symptoms. However, research has indicated that the placebo effect is most likely to blame for the favorable benefits of wearing copper wristbands for persons with arthritis.

5. Helps to keep the nervous system in good shape

Copper also aids in the maintenance of the myelin sheath, which is the outer layer that surrounds the nerves. Copper has been shown to improve cognitive function and increase mental processes. Because it influences the functions of particular transporter proteins that activate neurons in the brain, it works as a brain stimulant.

Copper promotes the entire development of cerebral networks, which boosts creativity, decision-making, memory, communication, and other critical cognitive activities that depend on a healthy nervous system and neurotransmitter signaling.

6. Assists in the development and maintenance of a healthy skeletal structure

Copper is essential for the development of bones, connective tissue, and muscles. Copper deficiency may manifest itself in brittle bones prone to breaking and that have not entirely developed, osteoporosis, poor strength and muscular weakness, weak joints, and other symptoms. Copper, along with other minerals like zinc, manganese, magnesium, and calcium, is necessary for strong bones.

According to many clinical trials, taking copper, manganese, zinc, and calcium combined seems to be more helpful than taking a calcium supplement alone in preventing bone loss.

7. Necessary for proper development and growth

Copper deficiency is less frequent in Western countries, but it is more common in third-world countries where malnutrition is a severe concern. The detrimental impacts of a shortage of copper may be seen in the stunting of growth and poor development of children in these groups.

Copper, like iron, aids in the formation of red blood cells. Copper is essential for bone health, but it also helps our blood arteries, neurons, and immune systems operate properly.

8. Assists in the regulation of thyroid activity

Copper is required for normal thyroid function because it interacts with other trace elements such as selenium and zinc to keep thyroid activity in check and avoid hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. However, the interactions between these trace minerals are complicated since an increase in the others must balance an increase in one.

The thyroid may be harmed if any of these vital minerals are very abundant in the body or if there is a deficit. Fatigue, weight gain or loss, body temperature, appetite changes, and other unpleasant symptoms may ensue.

9. Prevents anemia and iron deficiency

In the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, copper and iron function together. Copper, according to research, aids in the absorption of iron from the intestine. It also aids iron absorption into the liver, where it is stored largely.

The iron in the diet, as well as supplements, is utilized to make red blood cells. Iron levels may drop dangerously low when copper shortage develops, resulting in anemia. Fatigue, muscular pains, digestive issues, and reduced cognitive function are signs of anemia.

10. Necessary for Good Hair, Skin, and Eyes

Copper is required by the body to produce the natural color and texture of the skin, hair, and eyes. In addition, copper is involved in the formation of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. Copper is required for the body to produce melanin because it aids in producing the enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is a protein that aids in the formation of melanin.

Copper also aids collagen formation. What exactly is collagen? It is the component that maintains the skin’s suppleness and youthful look. Copper is also involved in the formation of elastin, a protein found in the skin’s connective tissue that maintains its elasticity.

It’s also necessary for preventing graying of the hair. Gray hair caused by a lack of copper is a true phenomenon. A 2012 research looked at blood levels of copper, zinc, and iron in human volunteers under the age of 20 who were graying their hair prematurely. According to the study, low serum copper levels may play a significant influence in hair graying prematurely. More research is required; however, copper deficiency hair loss may also occur in certain people.

Copper’s Importance in Traditional Medicine

Hippocrates prescribed copper compounds to cure numerous ailments as early as 400 B.C. Copper, according to some, was perhaps the first metal to be used as a trace mineral supplement thousands of years ago.

Copper has become a health-promoting component in several schools of traditional medicine in recent years. Copper sulfate, for example, is used in traditional South African medicine to treat aches, pains, inflammation, skin rashes, and even certain sexually transmitted infections.

To maintain excellent health and balance the three doshas, some Ayurvedic practitioners advocate drinking water held overnight in a copper container first thing in the morning.

Copper Deficiency

Getting this crucial component via your food is the best and healthiest method to prevent a copper shortage.

Which meals contain a lot of copper? Here are 20 of the top copper-rich foods to help you reach your daily requirements:

  1. 4 milligrams per ounce of beef liver (200 percent DV)
  2. 1 bar of dark chocolate has 1.8 mg of caffeine (89 percent DV)
  3. Sunflower seeds are a kind of sunflower. 0.8 milligrams per cup with hulls (41 percent DV)
  4. 0.6 mg per ounce of cashews (31 percent DV)
  5. 0.6 milligrams per cup of chickpeas (29 percent DV)
  6. 1 cup raisins: 0.5 milligrams (25 percent DV)
  7. Lentils 0.5 mg per cup (25 percent DV)
  8. 0.5 mg hazelnuts, once (25 percent DV)
  9. Apricots that have been dried 0.4 milligrams per cup (22 percent DV)
  10. Avocado 0.4 milligrams per avocado (18 percent DV)
  11. Seeds of sesame 0.4 milligrams per tablespoon (18 percent DV)
  12. 1 cup cooked quinoa: 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
  13. Greens from turnips 0.4 milligrams per cup, cooked (18 percent DV)
  14. Molasses made from blackstrap molasses 0.3 milligrams per 2 tablespoons (14 percent DV)
  15. Shiitake mushrooms are a kind of mushroom. 0.3 milligram per ounce (14 percent DV)
  16. 0.3 mg per ounce of almonds (14 percent DV)
  17. Asparagus 0.3 mg per cup (13 percent DV)
  18. 1 cup raw kale: 0.2 milligrams (10 percent DV)
  19. 1-ounce semi-soft goat cheese: 0.2 milligrams (8 percent DV)
  20. Chia seeds are a kind of chia seed that 0.1 milligrams per ounce (28 grams) (3 percent DV)

Copper Recipes and Natural Copper Supplementation

Include nutrient-dense copper foods like mushrooms, avocado, cocoa, and almonds in your meals to ensure that you receive the right amount of copper.

You can get copper via drinking water and cooking with copper cookware, in addition to consuming copper-rich foods. This is because many water pipes in your house contain copper, allowing a small amount of copper to leach into the water before you drink it, which may be helpful if you have a deficit.

When you cook with copper pots and pans, your food might absorb some of the natural copper found in the metal.

Dosage and Copper Supplements

Copper supplements are not required for a healthy individual who eats a well-balanced diet. Consult your doctor if you suspect you are deficient after doing a copper deficiency test. 1.5 to 3 milligrams of copper per day by mouth (typically as copper sulfate) may be advised to treat an acquired copper deficit.

Only take a copper supplement if your doctor recommends it and if you are under their supervision.

Toxicity of Copper and Precautions

Is it possible to have too much copper? Unfortunately, yes, it is possible. Because copper is harmful in big doses, it’s crucial to stay within the RDA. Acute and transient copper poisoning may occur if levels are too high. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney damage or anemia are all indications of copper intoxication.

You don’t want to have too much copper in your body since it may cause various health concerns. For example, several studies have related high copper levels to tumor and cancer development.

Wilson disease and Menkes disease are two hereditary genetic illnesses that have been linked to copper excess or deficiency. If you or your kid exhibit any Menkes or Wilson illness symptoms, see your doctor.

Last Thoughts

  • Low neutrophils, anemia, osteoporosis, and hair with less color than usual are all symptoms of copper deficiency.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all signs of copper intoxication. Kidney damage or anemia are more severe signs.
  • Copper has several advantages, including:
    • Positive impact on the body’s metabolism and energy generation
    • In terms of growth and development, this is a critical function.
    • Bone health, nervous system function, iron levels, and red blood cell synthesis all benefit from it.
    • It helps to promote optimal thyroid function when combined with other trace minerals in a healthy ratio.
    • For some people, having enough iron helps prevent the premature graying of the hair.
    • Collagen formation is encouraged, which improves skin health.
  • The majority of individuals can get enough copper through their diets.
  • Beef liver, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, chickpeas, and kale are all copper-rich foods.
  • If you have a copper deficit, you should only take a copper supplement if your health care professional recommends it and supervises you.

Frequently Asked Question

How do you treat copper deficiency?

A: Copper deficiency is treated with copper supplements.

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