Can Copper Wreak Havoc on Your Body?
Studies Reveal How Copper Imbalances Cause Mood Disorders, ADHD, Anger Problems and More
It’s no secret that America is renowned for being the pill-popping “Prozac Nation” trying to medicate its problems with a host of ‘miracle drugs’ that constitute a billion-dollar industry.
But you may be surprised to learn mood disorders — in addition to a host of other disorders, like anxiety disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD and more — are not always caused by the common environmental or mental issues that doctors so commonly associate them with. In fact, new reports find that many of these emotional or behavioral problems are largely due to varying imbalances in our bodies.
If you struggle with anger problems, mood swings, or ADHD, you may be surprised to learn that an imbalance of minerals such as copper could play a role.
You might be familiar with a large collection of daily ‘essential nutrients’ that are listed on your everyday food labels. Among the common nutrients are elements like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and iron. What you may not know, however, is that there is another essential mineral your body needs, and you almost never see it listed along with those other nutrients.
That mineral is copper.
Copper plays an integral role in ensuring the mental, physical and chemical wellbeing of your body and, along with all the other essential minerals and nutrients, is vital for survival. In addition to helping you live a healthy life, new studies have found it also plays an integral role in balancing your mood levels, in addition to being a huge factor in affecting learning disorders (specifically ADHD) and more.
To truly understand the essential role of this metal and its effects on your body, it is important to delve into its biological roles.
What Exactly Does Copper Do for Your Body?
As is the case with most minerals, a certain balance of each compound is absolutely necessary to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Some minerals are not as integral to your internal balance as others, while several others are classified as essential mineral nutrients – meaning that you MUST have them in your diet in order to live.
As mentioned before, some of the more popular essential minerals that you may be familiar with are calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iron. Unfortunately, the essentiality of copper in our diets is not discussed as often even though it is also an essential mineral.
In fact, copper is so important to your body’s daily functions that in a research paper titled ‘Copper in Drinking-water; Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality,’ the World Health Organization states:
“Copper is an essential nutrient. The USA and Canada recently established a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults of 900 µg/day. Values for children are 340 µg/day for the first 3 years, 440 µg/day for ages 4 through 8, 700 µg/day for ages 9 through 13 and 890 µg/day for ages 14 through 18 (IOM, 2001).”
The article goes on to confirm:
“Copper is required for the proper functioning of many important enzyme systems. Copper-containing enzymes include ceruloplasmin, SOD, cytochrome-c oxidase, tyrosinase, monoamine oxidase, lysyl oxidase and phenylalanine hydroxylase (Linder & Hazegh-Azam, 1996).”
In simpler terms, copper is described by doctors such as Dr. Lawrence Wilson – nutritional consultant and former medical writer and researcher for the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health – as having:
“… a number of important functions in the human body…
1. Bones and connective tissue. Copper is required to fix calcium in the bones and to build and repair all connective tissue…
2. Energy production in the cells. Copper is needed in the final steps of the Krebs energy cycle called the electron transport system. This is where most of our cellular energy is produced…
3. Immune Response. Copper must remain in balance with zinc. When imbalances occur, one is more prone to all infections, in particular fungal and yeast infections that are so common today.”
But that’s not all; Wilson also adds that copper is important for:
“4. The glandular system, particularly the thyroid and adrenal glands…In part this is due to its nature and how easily it is influenced by the sympathetic nervous system…
5. Reproductive system. Copper is closely related to estrogen metabolism, and is required for women’s fertility and to maintain pregnancy…
6. Nervous system. Copper stimulates production of the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It is also required for monoamine oxidase, an enzyme related to serotonin production. As a result, copper is involved deeply with all aspects of the central nervous system.”
Even though copper is so essential to many of your bodily functions, many doctors, medical practices and medical companies don’t appear to sufficiently acknowledge the importance of monitoring intake levels – a problem which can have major consequences if long-term imbalances remain.
Of the problems associated with too much or too little copper in your system (otherwise known as copper toxicity and deficiency) are:
“…most psychological, emotional and often neurological conditions. These include memory loss, especially in young people, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others…”
Much more complicated than simply adding a multivitamin to your diet, achieving the perfect copper balance becomes even more complex when you consider that each individual metabolizes, excretes and uses copper differently. Depending on your body type, oxygen metabolic rate among many other internal and external factors, your daily dosage may require you to intake a lot or very little of the mineral.
Dr. Wilson describes in detail that some people:
“…need much more copper than others. This has to do mainly with their metabolic type or body chemistry. Fast oxidizers need more copper while slow oxidizers often have too much. Those who we find are fast oxidizers require a lot more copper… Slow oxidizers often have excessive copper in their bodies. Thus they are far more prone to copper imbalance of this nature.”
How do You Know if You Are Getting the Right Amount of Copper, Or if You Have a Copper Imbalance?
As with any deficiency, illness, ailment or disorder, an accurate diagnosis requires the assistance of a trained medical professional. In addition, careful observation of your habits, moods, foods, physical wellbeing and activities is also essential.
For most people a significant copper deficiency can cause symptoms such as:
- Panic attacks
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Trouble Thinking
- Testicular Pain
And in more serious cases:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Tourette’s syndrome
In regard to attention deficit disorders, especially in the case of fast oxidizers:
“This body type must have extra copper or they will exhibit violence, sleep problems or anti-social behavior such as ADD or ADHD.”
With so many wide-ranging effects to having too much or too little of this essential element in your system, you would think that it would be important for doctors to monitor and regulate your copper levels more than ever.
Unfortunately, because our public health system is so overloaded with prescription drugs that claim to cure each and every symptom for these emotional, mental and behavioral problems, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many professionals who advocate the importance of assessing your copper levels – leaving you with the same old prescription routine where you should: ‘take two of these, and call me in the morning.
Prescription Drug Use for Behavioral and Mental Health Conditions on the Rise
The IMS Health Report notes that U.S. sales of antidepressants totaled $11.9 billion in 2007, and there is no doubt that this number is increasing with the large variety of ever available drugs these days.
In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and older, in a given year, have a mood disorder. Also, the CDC reports that ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007.
That number is expected to rise steadily in the coming future, and shows no signs of slowing down either.
A report by the Harvard Health Letter confirmed these reports when it warned:
“The federal government’s health statisticians figure that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. And by their reckoning, antidepressants were the third most common prescription medication taken by Americans in 2005–2008, the latest period during which the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected data on prescription drug use.”
Those are some large numbers for medical treatments that have questionable effectiveness and safety for helping individuals afflicted with mood disorders and other similar problems. In fact, a groundbreaking study by Professor Irving Kirch and colleagues caused uproar in the pharmaceutical community when it exposed how:
“…compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in the most severely depressed patients. The findings also show that the effect for these patients seems to be due to decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication.”
A scary thought when you consider the millions of people downing these drugs on a daily basis.
Similarly, when it comes to ADHD and common treatments, the story is the same, with millions of pharmaceutical drugs being prescribed every year, even though there is very little evidence to support these medications actual benefits.
In fact in their National Guideline — ‘Diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults’ — The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health in their National Clinical Practice Guidelines clearly states that:
“…more research is needed on the influences on eventual outcome, and should include enquiry about the possible benefits (and risks) of early diagnosis and treatments