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Do you have gray, white or silver hair? [Copper Deficiency]

Do you have fine lines on your face?

Are you developing crow’s feet around your eyes?

Do you have varicose veins?

Are hemorrhoids troubling you?

Stretch marks, do you have them?

Are you afraid of getting stretch marks during pregnancy?

Do you have sagging skin?

Does your skin lack the firmness of your youth?

Do you think that getting older means losing skin tone?

Did you know copper is an “Essential” trace mineral?


Interested? Read on

A little Background….

Copper is a trace mineral that is needed for proper elastic fiber maintenance. 

Elastic fibers are important for almost all tissues, organs and joints as well as functional concerns – like blood vessel integrity.

If you are deficient in copper elastic fibers are not properly maintained – resulting in sagging skin, stretch marks and crow’s feet to the more serious varicose veins, hemorrhoids and aneurysms, potentially fatal. 

Copper is also a co-factor to the enzymes need to produce the skin and hair pigment. Gray, white and silver hair is a symptom of copper deficiency.

It has been reported that excessive milk drinking in animals can induce copper deficiency.

Excessive zinc intake can cause a copper deficiency. 

There are reports of people developing aneurysms after taking supplemental zinc for 8-10 years [without taking any additional copper]. 

I personally knew a 41 yo man who took zinc for 10 years and died suddenly from a cerebral aneurysm – scary stuff.

Swayback [or saddleback] seen in animals is caused by copper deficiency [ lordosis in humans]

Gastrointestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass, can lead to copper malapsorption.

Copper is needed for proper energy metabolism [mitochondrial enzymes] , iron transport and production of WBC and RBC’s [myelodysplasia – pre-leukemia, neutropenia –low white blood cell counts, anemia low RBC counts.]

Copper deficiency has been associated with sensory ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, myelopathy – spinal cord degeneration.

It is best to take a zinc supplement that includes copper.


Here a few articles and reports to consider……


An awesome report/blog on copper…..

Understanding Copper Deficiency in Celiac Disease

July 28th, 2010 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

A few excerpts:

Copper usually receives little coverage, but this unpretentious nutrient deserves center stage. It is time for a serious role review.

Here are two reasons: First, deficiency of this trace mineral can debilitate and threaten our lives, and second, deficiency develops with increased frequency in those of us with celiac disease, unlike the general population.


Copper is required for hemoglobin production in red blood cells, production and function of white blood cells, the absorption, transport and use of iron, energy metabolism, the development, growth and maintenance of bone and connective tissue, the formation and maintenance of myelin sheath (outer surface of nerve fibers), adrenal hormone production, thyroid hormone production, muscle tone, immunity, reproduction, tissue repair, pigmentation of hair and skin, and proper growth and development of infants and children.


Copper deficiency is characterized by fatigue, anemia, neutropenia (low level of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that protect against infection), leukopenia (abnormal decrease of leukocytes or white blood cells), bone and joint abnormalities, skin abnormalities, impairment of nerve and muscle function, impairment of adrenal and thyroid gland function, reproductive difficulties and loss of hair and skin color.


Role of copper in connective tissue.

Connective tissue connects and supports a variety of other tissues. 

Connective tissue is made up of collagen and elastin proteins. 

These proteins require copper for synthesis. In addition, copper is a cofactor for the activity of a vital enzyme called lysyl oxidase. This enzyme begins the formation of cross-linkages, which stabilize and provide strength to collagen and elastin.

Elastin is a rubber-like protein that gives strength and flexibility to such organs and tissues as blood vessels, spinal discs, skin, lungs and bronchial tubes, heart, gallbladder, and the digestive tract.

Collagen is a strong, fibrous protein that makes up most of connective tissue. It is a main component of dermis (lower layer of skin) along with soft keratin, tendons, ligaments, deep fascia, bone, cartilage, and teeth (except enamel) forming the matrix of dentin, cementum, and alveolar bone. 


How does copper deficiency impact connective tissue?

When copper is low, the body diverts copper from activity in connective tissue to more important uses, thereby weakening connective tissue and causing malfunction.

Disorders that may develop in organs and tissues composed of connective tissue include:

Slipped or herniated spinal discs

Spinal discs are located between vertebra and act like pads to separate and cushion these bones. Discs soften and may shrink due to lack of elastin.



Weakened blood vessels.


Lack of copper reduces the strength of elastin, a main component of artery walls. Weakening of arterial walls leads to the development of aneurysms or bulging of arteries much like a bubble on a bicycle tire. Rupture of an aneurysm results in hemorrhage that may be fatal, depending on location. 



Veins in the anal area weaken and swell from lack of elastin. 


Varicose veins

These dilated superficial veins may develop from faulty elastin, thus leading to poor circulation and swelling of the lower legs.


Premature aging of skin

Depleted collagen and elastin with resulting lack of elasticity and flexibility leads to loose and wrinkling skin.


Premature graying. Copper is needed to make melanin, the pigment that colors hair and skin.


Diverticulosis of the bowel

Limited research points to faulty collagen in the bowel wall that may involve copper deficiency.

[Full report]


Are you beginning to get the idea that Copper is important?


From the USDA News from 2001

Copper Gets New Status

Leslie M. Klevay

A few exerpts:

Evidence indicates that chronic low-copper intake can increase risk of heart attacks and osteoporosis. Research that relates a low-copper intake to heart disease has been increasing over the last quarter century.


It is easy to find a diet that fails to meet these dietary references intakes. For instance, a tuna fish salad made with lettuce, mayonnaise and salad oil is very low in copper. The recipe can be improved by adding high-copper foods such as soy or other legumes, mushrooms and sunflower or other seeds. Other good sources of copper include some ready-to-eat cereals, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, liver and oysters.


The panel also defined the tolerable upper intake for adults as 10 mg daily and suggested that it is quite unlikely that people will reach even half this level even if dietary supplements of copper and small amounts of copper in drinking water are included.

[Full article] ______________________________________________

From the Nutritional Supplements Knowledgebase

Copper – Essential Micronutrient

Necessary for energy and respiratory function, copper also supports the formation of bone, collagen, red blood cells, healthy nerves and joints, hair and skin coloring, plus many enzymatic functions of the human body. It’s seldom supplemented by itself as most people get enough from a multivitamin/mineral.

Where to find Copper –  Copper can be found in oysters, liver, nuts, legumes, and grains.

Note Copper is also used extensively in cookware and plumbing.

The Daily Value for Copper is 2 mg.


Richest Food Sources of Copper:

~ Liver (Pâté) 

Veal liver provides the most copper with 15mg per 100g serving or 753% of the DV.

~ Oysters 

Depending on type can provide 1-8mg of copper per 100g serving, 37%-500% of the DV. 

~ Sesame Seeds and Tahini sesame butter

Dried sesame seeds make a great topping and contain 4.1mg /100 gram serving. Tahini is commonly found in hummus, a ground chickpea spread and dip of the middle east.

~ Nuts 

Cashew nuts provide the most copper with 2.2mg/100 gram. (111% DV). Hazelnuts (88% DV), Brazil nuts (87% DV), Walnuts (79% DV), Pistachios (66% DV), Pine Nuts (66% DV), Peanuts (65% DV), Pecans (60% DV), and Almonds (59% DV). 

~ Calamari and Lobster 

100 grams of calamari provides 2.1mg of copper. Lobster, 100 gm, will provide 1.9mg of copper.

~Sunflower seeds 

Sunflower seeds give 1.8mg (92% DV) of copper per 100 grams. 

~ Sun Dried Tomatoes 

About 2 cups will provide 1.4mg of copper or 71% of the DV. 

~ Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds 

Pumpkin and squash seeds contain about 1.4mg of copper per 100g serving (70% DV). 


Copper is safe if taken properly.

Do not exceed 10 mg per day.

Do not take Copper alone.

Excess Copper can cause a Zinc deficiency.

Too much Zinc can cause a Copper deficiency.

Food sources are non-toxic.


From The Linus Pauling Institute


Copper (Cu) is an essential trace element for humans and animals. 


Although Hippocrates is said to have prescribed copper compounds to treat diseases as early as 400 B.C. (2), scientists are still uncovering new information regarding the functions of copper in the human body. 


Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Copper

Age Group UL (mcg/day) Infants 0-12 months Not possible to establish*  Children 1-3 years 1,000  Children 4-8 years 3,000  Children 9-13 years 5,000  Adolescents 14-18 years 8,000  Adults 19 years and older 10,000


What can cause us to get deficient in Copper?

Bariatric surgery for one…..


From Obesity a research journal

Acquired Copper Deficiency: A Potentially Serious and Preventable Complication Following Gastric Bypass Surgery Daniel P. Griffith, R.Ph.

A few excerpts….


Copper is an essential cofactor in many enzymatic reactions vital to the normal function of the hematologic, vascular, skeletal, antioxidant, and neurologic systems. 


Copper deficiency in the United States is believed to be relatively rare but has been described in the setting of zinc supplementation, myelodysplastic syndrome, use of parenteral nutrition and chronic tube feeding, and in various malabsorptive syndromes, including following gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery. 


Copper deficiency is a well-documented cause of neurologic disease and hematologic abnormalities, including anemia with neutropenia, in adults 1–5. The neurologic manifestations may be similar to the myeloneuropathy observed with vitamin B12 deficiency. 


Though copper deficiency is thought to be rare in developed countries, the neurologic symptoms can be profound and are frequently irreversible, making awareness and early diagnosis essential.


Copper deficiency in the United States is believed to be rare but has been described in the setting of gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery. 



Copper is a trace element essential to all species. 

It is a cofactor in several oxidative enzymes vital to the function of hematopoietic, vascular and skeletal tissues, as well as the structure and function of the nervous system, including superoxide dismutase (oxygen radical scavenger), cytochrome-c oxidase (mitochondrial respiration), lysyl oxidase (collagen and elastin synthesis) and ceruloplasmin ferroxidase/haephestin (iron metabolism) . 


Animal studies suggest that the duodenum is the major site of copper absorption, but some absorption also occurs in the stomach and ileum. Gastric pH has an important role in freeing copper bound to foodstuffs. 


Based on our clinical observations, we advocate that greater awareness of the potential for copper depletion and hematologic and neurologic abnormalities must occur in physicians caring for patients after RYGB surgery.


A Quick Summary:

Copper is a trace mineral necessary for health.

Copper deficiency can lead to many health problems.

Crow’s feet, sagging skin and wrinkles are early clues.

Hemorrhoids and varicose veins are more serious.

Aneurysms can be fatal.

Anemia, bone and joint problems as well as graying of the hair are also symptoms that you are short on copper.

The recommended daily value is now 2 mg.

Copper is safe, but can be toxic with more than 10 mg per day.

No toxicity has been observed using food sources.

Copper should not be taken alone.

Copper should ALWAYS be taken with Zinc.

A Zinc excess can lead to a Copper deficiency.

Copper Bisglycinate, an amino acid chelate, is a good source.

Copper picolinate is also a good source.

Copper gluconate is essentially metallic and best avoided.

Usually a separate copper supplement is not required.

Most progressive multiple vitamins contain Copper.

Plant derived colloidal minerals provide trace minerals.


Take Home Message……….

We cannot get “Full Spectrum Nutrition” from foods alone.

We MUST to supplement our diets to get “Full Spectrum Nutrition”.

To achieve Optimal Health we need “Full Spectrum Nutrition”.


And as I always say….

To achieve optimal health we need Full Spectrum Nutrition.

Around 90 nutrients are considered ESSENTIAL.

These nutrients can be divided into 4 groups:

Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids [Protein] and Fats/Oils.

If Optimal Health is the goal, it is virtually impossible to get “everything you need” from foods alone.

To get full spectrum nutrition we ALL need to supplement our diets.


Supplements to consider:

1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best.

2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.

3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later

4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.

5) Vitamin E is difficult to get in sufficient amounts from foods. I advise people to supplement with at least 400 IU per day. Natural versions are best, look for “d-tocopherol”.


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