COPPER: EXPOSURE, TOXICITY AND WHAT’S ENOUGH?
I have followed this practice for ages; my first glass of water in the morning comes from a copper bottle. First it is an essential mineral for our bodies; and water from a copper bottle will balance your doshas (Ayurvedic). Besides, copper is an essential trace mineral and along with iron it makes for red blood cells and keeping the immune system healthy. You know what you see on your blood reports when it says neutrophils; basically white blood cells that are your soldiers to fight off an infection. Too little of copper, can lead to neutropenia, i.e., deficiency in these white blood cells. Adults should normally have 50-80 milligrams, (on a blood test 70 – 140 micrograms per deciliter – mcg/dL) and it is usually stored in your muscle and liver. It is kept under check in your body with the help of mettalothionein, ceruloplasmin and other proteins. You will get copper from foods in your diet, like whole grain, beans, seafood and meats. If you are eating a balanced diet you should normally not be in excess of this mineral.
Here are some benefits –
- Copper has been known to fight free-radical damage (God knows we all get enough of it)
- Helps keep the skin looking younger; as it works together in enhancing collagen and rejuvenates skin cells
- Regulates your blood pressure, and heart rate
- Helps in keeping in the good bacteria and fighting the bad ones
- Copper works with the liver, and your filtration unit=the kidneys (so definitely good detox for the body)
- People with thyroid issues, suffer with low levels of copper; and it will help regulate thyroid issues as well (excess will hurt the thyroid)
- Lastly, increases immune system strength!!
Deficiencies are rare, but in such a case of copper deficiency it could lead to absorption problems of other nutrients; problems in the central nervous system, inflammation in the optic nerve, pigmentation in the skin, osteoporosis and anemia.
Sometimes when your intake of zinc and vitamin C are high, it could interfere with copper absorption. On the other hand, adding zinc when copper levels are high, helps in detoxifying you of the excess copper. There is a process to use zinc, so I encourage you to work with your healthcare practitioner. Since copper gets stored in the liver, a deficiency will only show up over a period of time. Signs of deficiency would include: anemia, low white blood cell count, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and osteoporosis.
So is there such a thing as high levels of copper causing issues?
Yes there is, but rare. You can get too much copper from supplements, being exposed to fungicides (which have copper), genetic disability to metabolize copper, contaminated water, drinking water (too much of it say 1 liter and more) from copper bottles, an overactive or underactive thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis could lead to excess copper, infections, inflammation, cancers, women exposed to estrogens (specially xenoestrogens: compounds in your environment that mimic estrogen [plastic, petrochemicals]) and growth hormones fed to animals. Estrogen dominant women (i.e., women due to perimenopause, anovulatory cycles leading to PCOD, menopause, over exposure to birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy-HRT – so in this case, where women have a copper IUD inserted for birth control, should be monitored by your health care practitioner) and weak adrenal function. Your doctor may not check you out of copper, unless you exhibit chronic symptoms.
High levels of copper could interfere with brain health (causing ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, skin sensitivity, anger issues, emotional disturbance, insomnia, lack of concentration/focus, poor immunity, decrease of dopamine (a neurotramitter responsible for feeling good; leading to depression and anxiety (as the neurotransmitters that trigger anxiety and fight or flight are triggered). Many of my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue clients are a little high on the copper spectrum (as too much of copper interferes with the cells energy cycle).
What can you do to detoxify yourself of excess copper?
- You will need to know how to clear out the estrogen by engaging the liver pathways with foods like: leafy greens and bitter foods including cruciferous vegetables that help clear toxic estrogen out.
- You need to not be protein deficient and have the right amount of zinc as well, as these 2 factors work together to help copper synthesis
- Drink up to a glass or two a day from copper bottles will minimize exposure
- Correct Vitamin D levels and thyroid levels if not normal