Copper is a HOT topic in the world of mineral balancing. Any of my current followers know that when it comes to copper, I try to know my stuff! I already have written about Copper Dysregulation and Copper and Bipolar Disorder. But when it comes to the dreaded “copper toxicity”, I truly believe that all is not what it seems.
There is quite a crazy occurrence when it comes to copper. You can be both copper deficient and copper “toxic” at the SAME TIME. This is because of the copper binding protein that is needed called ceruloplasmin. Without sufficient ceruloplasmin, copper cannot be made bioavailable. To make ceruloplasmin we need a few things. Sufficient adrenal and liver function is required to help make this protein. Ceruloplasmin is also dependent on animal-based retinol (vitamin A), whole food vitamin C, and copper/
Why are we lacking ceruloplasmin? There are actually many things that inhibit ceruloplasmin production. Obviously the biggest problem with creating sufficient ceruloplasmin is our overloaded livers from environmental toxins. Preventing the liver from becoming sluggish is key to making ceruloplasmin available. Other offenders include supplemental iron, calcium, and vitamin D, high fructose corn syrup, ascorbic acid (passed off as Vitamin C but it is generally made from GMO corn!), and too much stress.
Why do we focus on ceruloplasmin production? When we calculate unbound copper, we need the copper and ceruloplasmin level. For some reason, people have always deduced that when unbound copper is calculated, that means that it’s the copper that is the issue and it needs to be lowered. No one ever thought that maybe ceruloplasmin was too low instead of copper just being too high.
When you raise your ceruloplasmin your unbound copper comes down. Attacking and lowering copper (with zinc and other copper antagonists) first will only bring stress on your body. Yes, while you raise your ceruloplasmin you can still experience the dreaded copper dumping as well as some other detox reactions. But this method is creating less steps in healing for you. Instead of attacking copper and THEN rebuilding, we aim to rebuild to begin with.
Strengthen, nourish and rebuild the body- don’t aim to detox, cleanse, or rip metals/toxins out.
With my own personal experience with copper dysregulation, I think that there needs to be LESS focus on “toxic” copper and MORE focus on BIOAVAILABLE copper. I truly believe that not having enough GOOD copper is more detrimental than having an excess of copper. There, I said it! (Or wrote it!) I understand that we are ALL different and we might need different approaches. But I was the typical “copper toxic” person with high unbound copper- I went the traditional route of attacking copper and instead of improving, I kept declining until I FINALLY started to understand that this is not the right thing to do. There are so many people that start off on the path of attacking unbound copper, but I RARELY hear anyone that has actually healed this way. Maybe it worked for people 10-20 years ago, but we are more imbalanced now than people were then- we NEED a better approach.
The Benefits of Bioavailable Copper:
From Linus Pauling Institute: “Copper is an essential cofactor for oxidation-reduction reactions involving copper-containing oxidases. Copper enzymes regulate various physiologic pathways, such as energy production, iron metabolism, connective tissue maturation, and neurotransmission”
Even a slight copper imbalance can contribute to impaired immunity, bone issues, and neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Copper helps certain gene transcriptions, plays a part in the production of melanin (helps skin pigmentation), and also has a huge role in Superoxide Dismutase, an important antioxidant.
Copper is a necessary mineral for making ATP, aka cellular energy. Low bioavailable Copper is associated with chronic fatigue. It is very common to be both copper toxic and copper deficient because copper needs to be bound to certain proteins to work properly. Copper is needed for at least 300 enzymes in the body. Bound, useable copper is absolutely essential for candida control (yes, those “candida cleanse” might work short term, but they are NOT addressing the real issue!).
Copper must be bound to special binding proteins, Ceruloplasmin and Metallothionine, in order to be able to get into the cells where it can be used by the mitochondria to make ATP energy in the Kreb’s cycle. Ceruloplasmin and Metallotionine are made in the liver when the adrenals signal to make them. However when the liver or adrenals are weak and sluggish, or if there is a zinc deficiency than these two proteins will be deficient which leads to unbound copper accumulating in the blood and tissues, especially the brain and liver.
Copper Deficiency Symptoms:
Decrease in number of white blood cells
Nerve damage can cause tingling and loss of sensation in the feet and hands
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Low blood levels of fat-soluble vitamins, zinc, and folate
White, gray and silver hair
Copper is also essential for making dopamine, adrenalin, and noradrenalin. An imbalance of copper can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, arthritis, cancer, cholesterol dysregulation, cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, impaired fat metabolism, free radical damage, immune and inflammatory diseases, and imbalanced thyroid health.
As you can see, copper has MANY uses in the body. Copper deficiency is a huge factor for those with chronic fatigue because of its role in ATP energy production. It is needed for brain health, immune health, and also for fat and sugar metabolism. Many people with copper dysregulation have experienced many mental symptoms that are ONLY contributed to “toxic copper”. But I firmly believe that is the LACK of bioavailable copper that could be causing these issues because of copper’s role in brain health.
The term “copper dumping” comes along often in a conversation about copper. I myself have experienced over a year of copper dumping at this point- but I am beginning to question the whole validity of its purpose. I don’t think we should AIM to copper dump at all (so far, I have not been able to figure out how to avoid it, but let me keep going here). I am starting to wonder if copper dumping happens more when we don’t have the ability to produce ceruloplasmin- which means that our livers and adrenals cannot physically make this essential protein.
So Ideally, one should not go on a “copper assault” protocol. Instead, they should focus on rebuilding the adrenals and supporting the liver (not detoxing it!). This should help to support ceruloplasmin production and hopefully bypass the dreaded “copper dumping”. I can honestly say that copper dumping never made me feel better afterwards- it almost always made me feel worse. And I believe that is because it also dumps BIOAVAILABLE copper.
One day, I truly hope to figure out how to prevent copper dumping. In theory, it seems like supporting ceruloplasmin first before trying to attack copper should be the ideal way. Honestly, this should be the course of action for anyone trying to balance copper- why would you WANT to experience copper dumping? Want to know some of the symptoms?
Copper Dumping symptoms:
Anxiety, rashes, liver pain or a feeling of it being swollen, insomnia, depression, paranoia, panic attacks, loose stool or an increase in frequency (many claim it is a copper color), changes in appetite, anger, crying, hopelessness, feeling wired and tired, joint pain, and any exaggeration of current symptoms
We shouldn’t FORCE copper out. No one should have to experience the above symptoms. Anyone that has started a copper attacking route will understand- it is NOT fun. It is in fact terrifying at times. And I believe that copper dumping only further weakens the body- and it will lead to a copper deficiency so you will have even more imbalances to deal with by the time you “deal” with all of the excess copper.
Going the route of strengthening the body instead of attacking the host is the common sense way to do thing. Detoxing, chelating, cleansing, etc- these can all be too harsh for people, especially while they are in adrenal fatigue. Like I always say, this is why individualized testing is essential to heal from any illness. But I would NEVER tell anyone to do things the way I was told to do because of how much longer it took me to heal from it. (Yes, I know I am just one person, but I am not the only one who “failed” with the copper detox-once you learn the TRUTH about copper, you will see that this method is flawed and no longer relevant!).
My goal is to approach healing in a gentle and effective manner. We CAN heal. It takes time though. So if you are not seeing improvements right away, it does not mean that you not doing things correctly. It just means that you have several imbalances and it will take time to sort them out. Our bodies have innate wisdom on how to heal- however, they do not know how to tell us what exactly is going on! We have to trust the process. You did not get sick overnight, and unfortunately you will not heal overnight.
Healing is not for those that aren’t committed. A complete lifestyle, diet, and attitude change is necessary!
Have you been duped by copper toxicity? Did you decline on a regular “copper attacking” program? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
My name is Kristin, and I've been on the path to help people achieve better health using whole food nutrition, mineral balancing, and holistic healing principles for almost 7 years now. The body is a whole and we must treat it as such! I have my Bachelor of Science in Natural Health Sciences, certificates in Herbal Studies from Herbal Academy, and I am constantly learning more about health to help my clients and followers.