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Copper: the mineral that those with low immune systems, anemia, and dull skin may be missing!

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

When it comes to our health, there are so many factors at play. One of the most underlying deficiencies that I have seen are mineral deficiencies. This has made me more curious in my practice as a dietitian, so I have decided to look in to minerals and what all they do for the body-- and boy have I been blown away! I would say that minerals are just as, if not more, important than vitamins.

That being said,I feel as though dull skin, low immunity, and anemia are issues that so many women face today. Getting sick regularly and seasonally, trying every skincare product on the market in or to have brighter skin, and struggling to keep our iron up and being told every yearly appointment that we have anemia. It feels like it never ends!

Never fear! I have found a potential solution (or at least some support) for our healing journey towards better skin, good immune system, abundant iron store, and so much more! COPPER!!

I honestly wonder if some people even knew that this was part of the diet. Let's start by looking at what copper does for us.

Functions of this mineral:
  • Helps with building red blood cells

  • Keep nerve cells health

  • Helps to boost immune system

  • Helps to form collagen, which can help with skin elasticity

  • Key component in building bones and connective tissue

  • Works as an antioxidant

  • Helps the body to absorb iron

  • Stabilized neurohormones

  • Plays a role in gene expression (4, 5)

Copper is not found in an abundance of foods like other minerals are. The sad thing is that it can't really be tested for either. Most people do not get enough copper in their diet. A serious deficiency is rare, however.

Signs of deficiency are:
  • Anemia

  • Osteoporosis or brittle bones

  • Low immunity or low white blood cell count

  • Loss of skin pigmentation

  • Thyroid issues

  • Those with celiac disease (4,5)

Does any of this sound like you or someone you know? I know it resonated with me. I think of my girl friends with anemia, my grandparents who are at risk for osteoporosis, people I've known with cancer, friends with thyroid issues, and even an old acquaintance with celiac disease! These are so common and oftentimes the medical system brushes this kind of stuff under the floor, I know when I was working as a clinical dietitian as a hospital, no one seemed to care about copper or other important minerals. But the deficiencies were there. Now that I have learned more about nutrition, I see now that some of these nutrients were likely what was missing from people's diets. If we would have added these things in to their regimen, who knows what improvements they could've made.

It all starts with nutrition.

Foods that contain copper:
  • Oysters

  • Liver

  • Some whole grains

  • Shellfish

  • Dark leafy green

  • Some legumes

  • Chocolate

  • Nuts (4)

Copper can also be taken as a supplement or even in a bracelet that you can wear! Most supplements are taken by those with anemia since it binds with iron to form red blood cells. The bracelets are often given to those who have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis as a way to help with pain (4)

Surprisingly, copper does interact with some medications.

People on birth control pills and estrogen (post menopause) should be wary of copper since these can increase copper levels in the bloodstream (4)

Copper can also enhance the effectiveness of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which to some may sound like a good thing, but when it is unregulated, it can be dangerous (4).

Things that lower copper in the body include zinc supplements, Allopurinol (gout medication), and Cimetidine (GERD medication).

Let me know if this was helpful or informative! If you have any questions, or would like to work one-on-one with me-- CLICK HERE to get in touch with me! Also, join my email list to hear all the updates I have for my nutrition community. Stay healthy!


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