Optimal Result: 0.9 - 3.2 Units.

Copper is an essential mineral in the body and directly or indirectly affects virtually every bodily system function. Copper is required for energy production, cardiovascular health, neurotransmitter activity, female reproductive system, skin health, blood formation and the immune system.

Sources Of Copper

Seafood - oysters, crabs, bluefish, perch, lobster
Meats - veal, duck, lamb, pork, beef liver and kidneys
Nuts/seeds - almonds, pecans, walnuts, filberts, brazil nuts, sesame, sunflower, pistachio
Vegetables - soybeans
Grains - wheat germ and bran
Miscellaneous - yeast, gelatin, bone meal, corn oil, margarine, mushrooms, chocolate
Other sources - copper water pipes, copper sulfate added to drinking water, copper compounds used in swimming pools, mineral supplements (especially prenatal vitamins), copper cookware and tea kettles, birth control pills, copper intrauterine devices, vegetarian diets, stress, exhaustion of the adrenal glands

Many children are born today with excessive copper levels passed to them from their mothers in utero.

Roles In The Body

  • Energy production
  • Female reproductive system
  • Blood formation

Functions Of Copper

Circulatory - structure of blood vessels, aorta and heart muscle
Blood - formation of hemoglobin
Nervous - maintenance of the myelin sheath on nerves
Reproductive - essential for fertility, menstrual cycle
Endocrine - synthesis of stimulatory neurotransmitters
Muscular/skeletal - bone and connective tissue structure
Immune system - necessary for the immune system
Integumentary - needed for skin, hair, nails and pigments
Energy - energy production (the electron transport system)

Synergetic Nutrients

Absorption - proteins

Antagonistic Nutrients

Absorption - zinc, manganese, iron, calcium, molybdenum, sulfur, mercury, cadmium, vitamin C
Utilization - zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B6, sulfur, molybdenum, manganese, iron

Hair Analysis Notes

  • Bio-unavailable copper: Often copper status can be tricky to assess. Copper may be present, but unavailable for use in the body. This occurs any time adrenal gland activity is low.
  • Copper and Oxidation Type: Fast oxidizers generally are deficient in copper, while slow oxidizers usually have either high copper or bio-unavailable copper.
  • Hidden Copper Toxicity: Copper is often normal on hair tests, but may actually be locked in body tissues. Test indicators of a hidden copper imbalance are:
    • Calcium level greater than 75 mg%
    • Potassium level less than 3 mg%
    • Sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.2:1
    • Mercury toxicity often indicates a hidden copper toxicity
    • Copper level less than 1.0 mg%
    • Zinc/copper ratio less than 6:1

Reasons For Supplementation With Copper

  • to raise a low sodium/potassium ratio
  • to enhance retention of calcium in tissues

What does it mean if your Copper result is too high?

Hair Copper (Cu) levels are usually indicative of body status, except that exogenous contamination may occur giving a false normal (or false high). Common sources of contamination include: permanent solutions, dyes, bleaches, and swimming pools/hot tubs in which Copper compounds have been used as algaecides.

Copper is an essential element that activates specific enzymes. Erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a Copper (and zinc) dependent enzyme; lysyl oxidase which catalyzes crosslinking of collagen is another Copper dependent enzyme. Adrenal catecholamine synthesis is Copper dependent, because the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase, which catalyzes formation of norepinephrine from dopamine, requires Copper.

If hair Copper is in the normal range, this usually means tissue levels are in the normal range. However, under circumstances of contamination, a real Copper deficit could appear as a (false) normal. If symptoms of Copper deficiency are present, a whole blood or red blood cell elements analysis can be performed for confirmation of Copper status.

What does it mean if your Copper result is too low?

Hair Copper (Cu) levels are usually indicative of body status with two exceptions: (1) addition of exogenous Cu (occasionally found in hair preparations or algaecides in swimming pools/hot tubs), and (2) low hair Cu in Wilson’s or Menkes’ diseases. In Wilson’s disease, Cu transport is defective and Cu accumulates, sometimes to toxic levels, in intestinal mucosa, liver and kidneys. At the same time, it is low in hair and deficient in other peripheral tissues. In Menkes’ disease, the activity of Cu dependent enzymes is very low. Cu supplementation is contraindicated in these diseases.

Cu is an essential element that is required for the activity of certain enzymes. Erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a Cu (and zinc) dependent enzyme; lysyl oxidase which catalyzes crosslinking of collagen is another Cu dependent enzyme. Adrenal catecholamine synthesis is Cu dependent, because the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase, which catalyzes formation of norepinephrine from dopamine, requires Cu. Symptoms of Cu deficiency include: elevated cholesterol, increased inflammatory responses, anemia, bone and collagen disorders, reproductive failure, and impaired immunity.

Possible reasons for a Cu deficiency include: intestinal malabsorption, insufficient dietary intake, molybdenum excess, zinc excess, and chelation therapy. Cu status is adversely affected by excess of antagonistic metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and manganese. Confirmatory tests for Cu deficiency are serum ceruloplasmin to rule out Wilson’s disease (ceruloplasmin is deficient in Wilson’s disease), a whole blood or packed red blood cell elements analysis, and a functional test for Cu (barring zinc deficiency) is measurement of erythrocytes SOD activity. Erythrocyte SOD activity is subnormal with Cu deficiency.

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