High Copper, Low Zinc May Result in Chronic Illness

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The Pure TheraPro Team

The Pure TheraPro Education Team is comprised of researchers from diverse backgrounds including nutrition, functional medicine, fitness, supplement formulation & food science. All articles have been reviewed for content, accuracy, and compliance by a holistic integrative nutritionist certified by an accredited institution.
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Many vitamins and minerals work together in the body. When one is down, another might be up. They exist synergistically, creating balance inter-connectedly, and this is why it is important to understand their relationship to one another when choosing to supplement. 

Copper and zinc are two such minerals that work hand-in-hand. They’re dualistic and vulnerable to one another in that when one is low, the other might become too high, causing health issues. They both must maintain balance at optimum levels to work well together. Without the other, they can’t do their own jobs properly. Call them biological soulmates. 



The body needs copper for multiple functions--a healthy metabolism, thyroid function, cognitive function, mitochondrial energy production, skin and hair health and so much more. Copper is instrumental in fighting free radicals, supporting the nervous system, helping to make superoxide dismutase, which removes reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body. ROS are free radicals that lead to systemic inflammation and can potentially cause chronic disease. Thankfully, copper deficiency is rare, since copper is abundant in many foods, such as meat, nuts, shellfish, mushrooms and chocolate. 

Zinc is important for endocrine function, helping with the production of testosterone in men and proper ovulation in women. Zinc also serves as a catalyst for various bodily functions. It helps with creating superoxide dismutase along with copper and fighting oxidative stress. Zinc is instrumental in supporting immune function, the transcription of our DNA and helping with the absorption of folate. Zinc also promotes optimal wound healing, supports your sense of taste and smell, and has antioxidant properties that contribute to you wellness and vitality. Zinc can be found in plant-based foods, however, it is thought that meat sources are more bioavailable sources of zinc. Vegans and vegetarians may need to supplement with zinc more so than meat-eaters for this reason. 

An imbalance between copper and zinc may result in poor health including immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, mental and cognitive decline, accelerated aging, cardiovascular disease, increased oxidative stress and the development of cancer. A 2017 study even found that low levels of zinc with corresponding high levels of copper were associated with increased inflammatory illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease. 

High copper and low zinc ratio is linked to low superoxide dismutase, which leads to increased inflammation, opening the gateway to trouble. Sadly, this imbalance is common in our society, with many people possessing higher copper levels than zinc, resulting in the potential for a health crisis. 

A 2017 meta-analysis highlighted the relationship between copper and zinc imbalance and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Those with Alzheimer’s Disease have significantly higher copper than zinc compared to those without this neurological illness. Other research shows a relationship between high copper ratio to zinc and autism. High copper to zinc ratio is also linked to anxiety, insomnia, irritability, heart failure ADHD, chronic fatigue, thyroid disorders, blood sugar anomalies, body aches and pains and eating disorders. 

High copper and low zinc plays a role in mental illness, as well, including schizophrenia and pyroluria. Pyrluria is a common condition that is surprisingly not discussed more in our society or in the medical community and is frequently misdiagnosed. Sadly, many wrongly diagnosed people are institutionalized for a condition that can be managed with proper supplementation and nutrition.

Pyroluria is a disorder that causes a deficiency in vitamin B6 and zinc, which impacts neurotransmitters. Excess copper accumulates due to the zinc deficiency, requiring ongoing supplementation. Symptoms of pyroluria mirror schizophrenia and affect approximately 10% of the population. People with pyroluria have high levels of copper, which is also the case with much of the population suffering from other mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

The imbalance between copper and zinc can impact hormones. High levels of copper increase estrogen levels, resulting in PMS and estrogen dominance. Low levels of zinc, as a result of high levels of copper, can also impact testosterone and progesterone levels, contributing to hormone-related health issues in both men and women.

Mineral levels in the blood are transient, so if you’re wanting to check your copper to zinc ratio or levels of specific minerals, a blood test is not accurate. It would be helpful to work with a functional medicine practitioner and consider getting a hair mineral analysis or other spectrometry scan completed for accurate results. 

Our Zinc Defense is launching soon, and will include zinc, copper and Quercefit® in one capsule, providing you with the nutrients necessary to build a strong immune system. 

Quercetin is a natural ionophore, which means that it helps move zinc across the cell membrane to be utilized properly by the body. Quercetin is a flavonoid or plant compound that is in fruits, wine, vegetables, teas and has naturally strong antioxidant properties, providing the body with multiple health benefits including reducing inflammation and supporting immune function. 

Zinc is not easily moved through our cellular transport system and requires the assistance of a natural ionophore, such as Quercetin, for optimal absorption and utility. The proper amount of copper is also part of this formulation to help create a healthy balance between these minerals. 

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