Copper Deficiency

Copper Deficiency

Copper is an essential trace mineral that the body needs in order to survive. It is needed only in very small amounts; however, it plays a vital part in many functions of our body. Copper deficiency is often misdiagnosed, with the symptoms being mistaken for other health issues such as B12 deficiency. Mild cases of copper deficiency can impact your tiredness levels and immune system, whilst severe cases of copper deficiency can have a more serious impact on your health.

Copper cannot be made by our body; therefore, we need to ingest it through our diet in order to get our recommended daily amount. If our diet isn’t balanced and copper isn’t consumed in this way, we are prone to becoming copper deficient.

Whilst copper deficiency is often considered as quite rare, the World Health Organisation has published that copper deficiency is in fact more of a likely Worldwide phenomenon, potentially making this more of a health issue than it was thought to be. 

Why is Copper is important for the body?

But what exactly does copper do within our body? Let’s take a look at how it helps our body to function and why it is so important:

. Helps to absorb iron

. Helps to regulate the heart rate and your blood pressure

. Supports and activates the immune system to make us less vulnerable to infections and diseases.

. Aids in production of red and white blood cells.

. Sustains the elasticity within the heart, which maintains blood pressure, and improves cardiovascular health.

. Aids formation of the brain and nervous system.

. Helps protects bone density. Collagen formation is crucial for bone formation, density, and repair within bones.

. Supports collagen formation- important for the appearance of our skin, anti-aging properties.

How much copper is recommended?

According to the NHS website adults in the UK between ages 19 – 64 should be getting 1.2mg of copper a day. This amount can however fluctuate depending on if you are pregnant and breastfeeding. So please check your specific requirements for your daily recommended amount.

What are the signs of Copper deficiency?

Diagnosing copper deficiency can be a difficult job for health professionals, as the symptoms characterised with this, are very similar to the symptoms associated with B12 deficiency or anaemia.

Common symptoms of this are:

Weakened immune system

Copper helps to maintain a healthy and strong immune system. A lack of this vital mineral means a reduced production of white blood cells- which is your bodies first line of defence in helping to combat a disease and fight it off. You could find yourself getting more frequent and longer colds or other infections.


Copper plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells, as it is integral to the bodies processing of iron- which is necessary for the red blood cells to be made. Red blood cells help the body carry oxygen around the body, when the blood cell count is lowered, this can result in anaemia. A lack of iron and oxygen can result in causing tiredness and fatigue, and paleness of the skin.

Weakened and brittle bones

Copper helps to protect bone density. Collagen formation is crucial for bone formation, density, and repair within bones. Copper deficiency has links with Osteoporosis which is a condition of weak and brittle bones.

Memory Loss & Learning Difficulties

Copper plays a part in brain function and development. Enzymes use copper in order to supply energy to the brain. Deficiency of copper can lead to memory loss, and cause learning and remembering to become more difficult. Copper deficiency has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Loss of Vision

Copper supports the nervous system. Enzymes use copper to ensure it remains healthy and is in good working order. Vision loss is one such symptom of a weakened nervous system. Problems with vision is usually associated with a long-term copper deficiency.

Pale skin and early grey hair growth

Enzymes use copper to produce melanin which determine the pigmentation of our skin and our hair. A reduced production of melanin through copper deficiency can lead to pale skin, and premature loss of colour to your hair resulting in early greying of hair.  

Walking Difficulties

Copper supports in maintaining a healthy nervous system through enzymes that use the copper to maintain a healthy spinal cord. These enzymes ensure that signals are sent and relayed efficiently to and from the brain. A deficiency can interrupt and effect these signals which can cause a lack of coordination, unsteadiness, and effect balance whilst walking.   

Feeling colder

Copper plays a part in maintaining the thyroid gland and ensuring healthy thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid gland helps to regulate both your metabolism and heat regulation. A deficiency of copper can therefore have a negative effect on the thyroid gland making them not work as well. One impact of this- is a heightened sensitivity to the cold.

Getting Diagnosis

Most commonly copper deficiency is linked with a reduced absorption or malabsorption of copper. This is found mostly in people who have had gastric band surgeries. Other conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and the hereditary disorder Menkes disease are also linked with people who are suffering a copper deficiency.

As mentioned previously in this article- copper deficiency can be a difficult one for health professionals to diagnose as the symptoms are closely related to other causes and deficiencies also- so always make sure you contact your doctor for professional help in understanding the cause of any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Copper Rich Foods

Copper deficiency on the large part is mostly rare. Most humans should be able to easily enough get their daily requirements through a varied and balanced diet. There are foods however that are more copper rich than others, that can help ensure you are getting enough copper daily into your system.

. Whole grains

. Oysters

. Beans & Pulses: Lentils, Chickpeas

. Nuts & Seeds: Sunflower seeds, Cashew nuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds,

. Organ Meats

. Leafy Dark Greens: Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach

. Dark Chocolate

. Shitake Mushrooms

. Avocado

. Quinoa

. Buckwheat

Other ways of ingesting copper can be through copper water bottles (Add link to copper water bottle blog) the use of copper saucepans, and even if you have copper water pipes that bring and distribute water into your house. In these instances, very small amounts of copper have been found to seep through into water and food from these sources.

Copper plays a vital role in the functioning of a healthy body. Deficiency of this crucial mineral can have a big impact on a number of different elements of your body. Whilst copper deficiency can be rare, even a mild deficiency of this mineral will impact your immune system and fatigue levels. Copper however can easily be brought into a diet through a variety of foods which are rich in this essential trace mineral.







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