Do you have hidden Cooper Overload?


As copper levels increase in the body, zinc levels decrease. These two metals work together in the body, with zinc being a natural antagonist to copper. Our body utilizes metals for a variety of functions and needs to maintain a specific relationships between them. When this goes out of balance, our body and mind soon follow.


Copper stimulates the diencephalon "the emotional brain", while zinc stimulates the cortex "the calming", rational mind. In stimulating the brain, copper produces high levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These work together and in opposition directing a wide range of emotional responses. This over-stimulation becomes the recipe for creating an unstable mind and ultimately mental illness. Various nervous disorders such as depression, irritability/rage, phobias and schizophrenia are associated with high blood or tissue copper levels.


As copper levels increase in the body zinc and magnesium levels decrease. Zinc deficiency is often associated with copper toxicity. Zinc is an important mineral for the adrenal glands. The reduction of zinc and magnesium lowers our ability to handle normal levels of stress and significantly impairs adrenal function. This leads to increased levels of anxiety and exhaustion with a constant sense of urgency added to the mix.


Excess copper impairs energy production in the cells. Copper is a conductive metal with strong electrical charges which promotes free radical activity. Low energy production and damage from free radicals leads to an array of other health issues including acne, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, Candidiasis (yeast infections), chronic fatigue, hormonal irregularities (elevated estrogen, decreased sexual function), hair loss, reduced thyroid function, irritable bowel syndromes (IBS), impaired liver function, and gall bladder congestion.


Common symptoms of Copper overload

  • A tired body and an overactive mind

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability, even agitation or violence

  • Hyperactivity and Insomnia

  • Learning disorders

  • Spaciness, poor concentration and memory, short attention span

  • ADHD

  • Indecisive

  • Lowered ability to handle stress

  • Fatigue

  • Eating disorders (Bulimia, Anorexia, Overeating)

  • Overweight

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Frequent Candida or yeast infections

  • Migraine headaches

  • Cravings for high-copper foods such as chocolate, nuts and avocados

  • Crave sweet and salty food as well as carbs

  • Depression

  • Frequent colds, flus and viruses

  • Easy or frequent bruising, specifically capillary fragility


What causes an overload of Copper?

  • All of us need to watch our copper intake, particularly women.

  • Food sources with high levels of copper include coffee, chocolate, avocado, soy, shellfish, pecans & other nuts, beans & legumes, whole grains, and the drinking water in some areas.

  • Household sources of copper include plumbing and cookware.

  • Swimming pools and hot tubs/spas.

  • Women are also susceptible to copper exposure through birth control pills, copper IUDs, and excess copper build-up during pregnancy.

  • Xeno-estrogens — Other estrogenic compounds in the environment, called endocrine disruptors, that are commonly found in pesticides, plastics, petrochemicals, growth hormones, cosmetics, personal care products and much more, also increase the retention of copper in the kidneys.

  • Vegetarians and others who consume high amounts of soy or soy protein beware as these products contain high amounts of copper. If you have copper overload I recommend soy consumption in moderation; no more than two times per week. To counter the increased copper we need zinc. Zinc is found in meat and eggs.

  • One may become attracted to a vegetarian diet and feel better on it initially because they have already have high copper and low zinc levels for other reasons. Glandular activity is stimulated by eating meat, which stimulates the release of excess copper and copper also inhibits one’s ability to digest protein, both of which cause a variety of undesirable symptoms like nausea, sluggishness, bloating and even a repulsion of all protein. When this happens the individual mistakenly believes that the meat is the problem, but it is really the imbalance in copper and zinc. If meat is reintroduced into the diet and other steps are taken, then zinc and copper levels would become balanced and these symptoms would dissipate.

  • Make sure your Multi-vitamin/mineral does not contain copper.

  • Those with Hypo-thyroidsim or Slow metabolisers.

  • Those who experience excessive stress or who have insufficiency of the adrenal glands also are more likely to develop high copper levels. This occurs because stress dramatically decreases levels of zinc, copper's primary antagonist, and it also weakens adrenal function. Weak adrenal glands don't produce adequate amounts of hormones to stimulate the liver to remove excess copper from the body.

  • Dental fillings - both the newer silver amalgams and some gold alloys - also are significant sources of copper. 

  • Impaired methylation. Methylation is one of your detox pathways that is needed to eliminate toxins like heavy metals from the body. If one is not methylating properly, then metals of all kinds, including copper, may build up in the body. Methylation may be be impaired due to deficiencies in a variety of nutrients like B6, B12, folic acid, or magnesium or it could be due to a genetic polymorphism. Impaired methylation can be seen in ADD/ADHD and Austism. 


Blood test and tissue mineral analysis (hair analysis) can be effective ways to determine your copper levels and can identify other metal imbalances as well.


In some cases, the detection of copper toxicity can be tricky, even with hair mineral analysis. Some people who have copper overload initially don't test high in copper because the copper is tightly stored in tissues and hasn't yet been released into circulation and deposited in the hair. If copper levels are low or normal, copper overload still can be present but hidden. A poor zinc-to-copper ratio (in other words, high copper in relation to zinc, whether or not copper levels are high) can be a sign of hidden copper toxicity.


Treatment of Copper Overload


  • Avoid high-copper foods such as: Chocolate, yeast, mushrooms, soy products, wheat germ and bran, shellfish, organ meats, coffee, coconut.

  • Avoid Vegetarianism.

  • Higher protein and fat diet with low carbs. 

  • Eat more foods rich in zinc such as: Chicken, turkey, red meats, game meats, pumpkin seeds, eggs.

  • Avoid zinc inhibitors, including: Alcohol, sugar, grains.

  • Drink lots of water to keep copper moving through.

  • Sauna particularly Near Infrared Lamp Sauna, steam bath or anything that will induce sweating.

  • Increase body elimination channels - eg. colon cleanse, dry skin brushing, hibiscus tea, dandelion tea and other diruetic or detox teas, Epsom salts baths.

  • Chiropractic adjustments - to release blockages to kidneys and/or liver. 



  • Zinc 25-50 mg. per day (as zinc monomethionine)

  • Manganese 15-30 mg. per day

  • Vitamin B-6 100-300 mg. per day

  • Vitamin C 1000-5000 mg. per day

  • Lipoic acid 30-60 mg. per day

  • Plus a multivitamin/mineral complex without copper. Uni-Key Health Systems at 1-800-888-4353 (USA).

  • Liver support supplement containing - Milk Thistle, choline, methionine, inositol, dandelion and niacinamide. 



  • Eliminate unnecessary sources of stress to improve adrenal function and enhance detoxification.

  • Setting your priorities. Start saying 'no' and removing obligations you no longer want to be involved in. 

  • Take an adrenal support supplement advised by me.

  • Deep breathing.

  • Mindful meditation.

  • Physical exercise. Mild and gentle not excessive.

Lightening your stress load is key because it boosts adrenal function, which in turn helps the body eliminate copper properly.


Side effects of Copper elimination

During the correction of a copper imbalance, copper elimination frequently causes transitory symptoms. These symptoms may include, headaches, usually of the migraine type, skin rashes, free-floating mental depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, digestive disorders, abdominal bloating and a flare-up of a wide variety of chronic conditions related to a copper imbalance; such as hypoglycemia, candida albicans, etc.


Anxiety and Panic States Resulting from a Copper Elimination

As copper levels are released from the tissues into the blood, the amount of anxiety tends to increase. At this time, adrenal insufficiency/ hypoglycemia-induced fear cause blood sugar levels to be reduce. Adrenalin (a stress hormone) is secreted causing an excessive build up of lactic acid and subsequently panic and anxiety attacks. A reduction in copper toxicity is effective in reducing the incidence and severity of both panic and anxiety attacks.


The Value of Calcium in Preventing a Lactic Acid Buildup

While zinc and vitamin B6 serve to release copper from the tissues, they do not fully address the lactic acid problem. Individuals suffering from copper toxicity commonly have excessively high calcium levels, as determined by a hair analysis. A high calcium level indicates a calcium bio-unavailability, which, in essence, is the same as a calcium deficiency.


Increasing one's calcium intake allows for calcium to combine with the lactic acid to form calcium-lactate resulting in a reduction or elimination of both anxiety and panic attacks. 


Abdominal Bloating and Digestive Distress

Abdominal bloating and digestive distress are common symptoms associated with copper toxicity. These symptoms are, of course, associated with impairment in the secretion of digestive enzymes and failure to secrete adequate levels of hydrochloric acid, principally due to an underlying adrenal insufficiency problem.


Candida, Stress and Copper and Hypoglycemia

Eventually, over a period of time, copper is eliminated from storage sites. Future eliminations of copper, due to stress, are thus minimized. As a result, symptoms of anxiety, migraine headaches, skin disorders, severe constipation, fears, candida infections etc., are greatly minimized.


The major reason candida continues to exist in an individual is because they are unable to reduce their excessive copper storage in the liver and in the brain. Whenever they undergo stress of any kind, copper builds up in the tissues resulting in a bio-unavailability of copper thus permiting candida to thrive. In essence, sufficient copper cannot be mobilized out of liver storage because of stress and weak adrenal glands.


Candida Albicans (Yeast) Infections

Copper is a stimulant to oxidative or aerobic metabolism. Copper biounavailability, deficiency or imbalance, often results in a tendency for yeast infections.



Vicki Witt

Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Coach, Certified LEAP allergy therapist, Reiki Master

BS (Nutr & Food Sci) PG Dip Clin Nutr RNutr

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