Copper is an essential mineral necessary for many functions of the body. Along with iron, copper assists with red blood cell formation. It is also required for healthy connective tissue, bones and the nervous and immune systems. Copper is helpful in treating a wide range of illness from anemia to heart disease, leukemia to HIV/AIDS. In addition, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of mental illness all respond well to balanced copper levels. Excellent sources include avocado, sesame, asparagus, crimini mushrooms and molasses along with most organic grains and nuts.
Signs of deficiency
Since copper is important for many bodily processes, deficiency manifests in a variety of ways. Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, hair loss, low immunity, thyroid problems and irregular heart beat. Copper deficiency is rare although those suffering from chronic diarrhea, Crohn's or celiac disease can develop malabsorption issues. Regular use of antacids can also hinder assimilation.
Identifying the dangers of toxicity
An excess of copper in the system can seriously damage physical and mental well-being. Many of the symptoms of toxicity are perplexingly similar to those of deficiency. Some individuals have substantial levels of biounavailable copper, thereby creating a situation of both toxicity and deficiency. Health issues that indicate possible toxicity include cancer, liver damage and abdominal pain. When copper is elevated and paired with low levels of zinc, dysfunction such as autism, hyperactivity in children, schizophrenia and premenstrual syndrome can arise. Copper has been linked with postpartum depression due to high levels of the mineral retained throughout pregnancy. Oftentimes there is a connection between a compromised liver and this form of depression since bile is a key element in excreting copper.
Treatment for copper imbalance
With simple lifestyle modifications, copper levels can be brought into harmony. Both deficiency and toxicity respond well to a diet of: 70 to 80 percent cooked vegetables, small portions of high-quality, organic and pasture raised animal protein, healthy fats such as extra virgin olive and coconut oils, and small amounts of corn and brown rice. Limit sugar, fruit and sweets since these stress the adrenals and aggravate copper imbalance. For toxicity symptoms, avoid copper cooking utensils, pools and hot tubs along with high copper foods. Drinking plenty of purified water throughout the day is essential to flush out excess amounts of the mineral. Reducing fear and stress is also helpful for maintaining copper equilibrium within the body.