Copper is a necessary mineral that has lots of functions in the body. It assists maintain a healthy metabolism, promotes strong and healthy bones and ensures your nervous system works properly. While copper deficiency is unusual, it seems that fewer individuals today are getting enough of the mineral. In fact, approximately 25% of people in America and Canada may not be satisfying the suggested copper intake. Not taking in enough copper may eventually cause deficiency, which can be unsafe.
Other reasons for copper deficiency are celiac illness, surgeries affecting the digestive tract and consuming too much zinc, as zinc competes with copper to be taken in.
Here are 9 signs and symptoms of copper deficiency.
1. Fatigue and Weakness
Copper deficiency might be one of the many causes of fatigue and weakness.
Copper is important for taking in iron from the gut.
When copper levels are low, the body may absorb less iron. This can cause iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which the body is unable to bring enough oxygen to its tissues. An absence of oxygen can make you weaker and feel worn out more quickly.
A number of animal studies have shown that copper deficiency may trigger anemia.
In addition, cells utilize copper to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s primary source of energy. This means copper deficiency might impact your energy levels, which once again promotes fatigue and weakness.
Fortunately, consuming a copper-rich diet can help repair anemia triggered by copper deficiency.
2. Frequent Sickness
Individuals who get sick frequently might have copper deficiency.
That’s since copper plays an essential role in preserving a healthy immune system.
When copper levels are low, your body might struggle to make immune cells. This might considerably lower your white blood cell count, compromising your body’s capability to fight infection.
Research studies have revealed that copper deficiency can dramatically reduce the production of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that serve as the body’s first line of defense.
Thankfully, eating more copper-rich foods can help reverse these results.
3. Weak and Brittle Bones
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones.
It ends up being more common with age and has been connected to copper deficiency.
For instance, an analysis of eight research studies including over 2,100 people found that those with osteoporosis had lower levels of copper than healthy adults.
Copper is associated with procedures that produce cross-links inside your bones. These cross-links guarantee bones are healthy and strong.
What’s more, copper motivates the body to make more osteoblasts, which are cells that help reshape and enhance bone tissue.
4. Problems With Memory and Learning
Copper deficiency could make it more difficult to learn and keep in mind.
That’s because copper plays a crucial role in brain function and development.
Copper is used by enzymes that assist provide energy to the brain, aid the brain’s defense system and relay signals to the body.
Conversely, copper deficiency has been linked to illness that stunt brain development or affect the capability to learn and keep in mind, such as Alzheimer’s illness.
Interestingly, a research study found that individuals with Alzheimer’s had up to 70% less copper in their brain, compared to individuals without the disease.
5. Difficulties Walking
Individuals with copper deficiency may find it harder to walk effectively.
Enzymes utilize copper to preserve optimal health of the spinal cord. Some enzymes help insulate the spinal cord, so signals can be passed on between the brain and body.
Copper deficiency may trigger these enzymes to not work as effectively, leading to less spinal cord insulation. This, in turn, causes signals to not be communicated as efficiently.
In fact, animal research studies have discovered that copper deficiency may reduce spinal cord insulation by as much as 56%.
Walking is controlled by signals between the brain and body. As these signals are affected, copper deficiency may trigger loss of coordination and unsteadiness.
6. Sensitivity to Cold
Individuals with copper deficiency may feel more conscious cooler temperatures.
Copper, together with other minerals like zinc, assists keep optimum thyroid gland function.
Research studies have shown that the T3 and T4 levels of thyroid hormones are carefully connected to copper levels. When blood copper levels are low, these thyroid hormone levels fall. As a result, the thyroid gland might not work as effectively.
Given that the thyroid gland assists regulate your metabolism and heat production, low thyroid hormone levels could make you feel colder more easily.
In fact, it’s approximated that over 80% of individuals with low thyroid hormone levels feel more sensitive to cold temperatures.
7. Pale Skin
Skin color is greatly identified by the pigment melanin.
People with lighter skin typically have fewer, smaller and lighter melanin pigments than individuals with darker skin.
Interestingly, copper is used by enzymes that produce melanin. For that reason, copper deficiency might affect the production of this pigment, triggering pale skin.
However, more human-based research study examining the link between pale skin and copper deficiency is needed.
8. Premature Gray Hair
Hair color is also impacted by the pigment melanin.
Given that low copper levels can affect melanin development, copper deficiency may trigger premature gray hair.
While there is some research on copper deficiency and melanin pigment formation, hardly any research studies have taken a look at the link between copper deficiency and gray hair specifically. More human-based research study in this area would assist clarify the link between the two.
9. Vision Loss
Vision loss is a severe condition that may occur with long-term copper deficiency.
Copper is used by many enzymes that help guarantee the nervous system works effectively. This means that copper deficiency can cause problems with the nervous system, including vision loss.
It appears that vision loss due to copper deficiency is more common among individuals who have had surgery on their digestion tract, such as gastric bypass surgery. This is because these surgeries can lower the body’s capability to take in copper.
While there is some proof that vision loss triggered by copper deficiency is reversible, other studies have revealed no vision improvement after increasing copper consumption.
Side Effects of Too Much Copper
While copper is important for optimum health, you only need to eat a small amount daily.
Taking in too much copper can cause copper toxicity, which is a kind of metal poisoning.
Copper toxicity can have unpleasant and potentially fatal side effects, including:
- Vomiting (food or blood).
- Stomach pain.
- Black, “tarry” stools.
- Difficulty breathing.
- An irregular heartbeat.
- Low blood pressure.
- Yellow skin (jaundice).
- Kidney damage.
- Liver damage.
However, it’s really uncommon to consume toxic amounts of copper through a regular diet.
Rather, it tends to happen if you’re exposed to polluted food and water or work in an environment with high levels of copper.
The Bottom Line
Copper deficiency is extremely uncommon, as many foods provide enough amounts of the mineral.
If you’re worried about your copper levels, it’s best to consult with your doctor. They will see if you are at threat of copper deficiency and may test your blood copper levels.
Just taking in a balanced diet should help you satisfy your daily copper requirements.
However, it’s estimated that approximately a quarter of individuals in American and Canada do not eat sufficient copper, which may increase the threat of copper deficiency.
Typical symptoms and signs of copper deficiency include fatigue and weakness, frequent sickness, weak and brittle bones, problems with memory and learning, difficulties walking, increased cold sensitivity, pale skin, premature gray hair and vision loss.
Luckily, increasing copper intake ought to fix the majority of these signs and symptoms.