When researching vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, you may or may not have come across information on copper. Copper toxicity is one of the most important mineral imbalances in nutrition, and treating it can potentially change your life. Copper is an essential trace element, with several prominent roles in the body. It supports the energy system, grows connective tissue, and helps neutralize bacteria and infections. However, too much unbound copper behaves like toxic metal in the body. If your body is unable to get rid of this copper it will build up over time in areas of the body where it is not supposed to be.
When you are exposed to too much copper, that isn't bound to any carrier proteins its benefits reverse, it accumulates in high quantities in your liver, muscles and brain, and it will throw off your neurotransmitters and biochemistry. The resulting symptoms can range from cognitive issues, constant anger and anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Where are we getting all of this copper from? There is a vast increase in exposure to copper, compared to one hundred years ago.
A few environmental factors include, copper plumbing, copper use in agriculture (copper sulfate pesticides), and copper IUDs. Foods high in copper include, grains, chocolate, avocados, nuts, and seeds. So, if you are vegetarian or vegan, it is important to be sure that you are balancing out your copper levels. One of the most problematic sources of exposure is tap water, the EPA allows for a high amount of copper in the tap water, so that should be noted.
If you suffer from hormonal issues, chronic fatigue, or anxiety, you may want to look further into copper toxicity. In situations of stress, the body's natural response is to throw out calming minerals, such as zinc or magnesium, and hold onto stimulating minerals such as copper. This is done to rev up your metabolism and kick-start your "fight or flight mode". When it happens every once in a while, the process works fine. However, if it is happening consistently, it can deplete your zinc and magnesium levels, while accumulating copper. This leads to the feeling of being tired but wired. When you are drained of energy, but your mind is on go-mode, constantly racing and unable to calm down, even when there are no immediate stressors around.
So, if you are sensitive to stress, chances are you already have a lot of free copper in your body, or are at high risk of it. You should also known that copper toxicity is more common among women than men, the reason is their higher estrogen levels. Estrogen and copper are closely linked, just as testosterone and zinc are closely linked. When one rises, so does the other. Which means, women have a higher level of copper in their body. It plays a major role in pregnancy, and is the reason most prenatal supplements contain copper. Birth control can further amplify the existing copper toxicity. Men can also become copper toxic, especially if they notice elevated estrogen levels.
Many nutritionists may miss this imbalance and some are completely unaware of it. They mainly use blood testing, which does not show the copper levels, because copper is stored in the body's tissues. Hair analysis would be the more accurate method.
Taking care of your diet, paying attention to how you are feeling each day, and making the necessary adjustments can make a huge difference in your quality of life!