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Does copper help with red blood cells?

How Does Copper Help Me With Low Red Blood Cell Count And How To Build More RBCs

How Does Copper Help Me With Low Red Blood Cell Count And How To Build More RBCs

If you're frequently told that your red blood cells (RBC) count is low during blood work, it can be concerning. While it's understandable to assume that low iron levels could be the culprit, there's a chance that there could be more to the story. In order to gain a better understanding, it's crucial to first understand what RBCs actually do. RBCs are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Did you know that copper helps your body create red blood cells? 

Let’s dive into this more.


What are Red Blood Cells?

As we all know, red blood cells are a crucial part of our body's functioning and overall health. It's incredible to think that something so small can have such a big impact on our well-being! Copper is crucial for keeping our blood healthy. Without enough copper, we may get anemia or other related conditions as our bone marrow can't produce enough red blood cells.


Red blood cells are an essential component of our circulatory system and hold a significant role in maintaining our health. They are a type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow, living for approximately 120 days and found in our serum, also recognized as blood. Hemoglobin, an iron-containing biomolecule, is the mainstay of red blood cells that grants them the vivid red hue. Biomolecules grab oxygen, keeping us oxygenated. These cells feature protein and lipid-based fortresses that keep them stable en route in our blood vessels. Fun fact: Humans contain ~270 million hemoglobin molecules!


Causes of Low Red Blood Cell Count

Question now is, why are your RBCs low?


Here are some conditions affecting red blood cell production:

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Cancer like leukemia or lymphoma
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver issues like cirrhosis
  • Gut issues like irritable bowel disease or celiac
  • Heavy metal toxicity, like lead
  • Certain medication


Are you feeling extra tired and sluggish lately? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that in the last few weeks, your skin has been turning yellow - but why? Your body requires an optimal number of red blood cells to function properly. If something's causing depletion too quickly, that could be serious.


Here are some conditions causing red blood cell destruction:

  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Thalaseemia
  • Porphyria
  • Hemolysis
  • Spleen issues


Nutrient deficiencies affecting red blood cells

It's understandable to have concerns about nutrient deficiencies, especially when it comes to something as important as the formation of red blood cells. While many may think of iron as the primary player in this process, there are actually a number of other key vitamins and minerals involved such as vitamins B6, B9, B12, and copper. It's important to make sure you're getting a well-rounded intake of these nutrients through a balanced diet or supplementation, especially if you're at risk for deficiency.

Copper's Role in Red Blood Cell Production

Today, we aim to highlight the significance of copper's role in producing red blood cells while discussing ways to detect deficiency.


Copper is one of the most important minerals that our body requires, and it plays an integral role in maintaining overall health. From energy production to neurotransmitter activity in the brain and collagen synthesis, copper regulates various bodily functions. It helps our immune system function by acting as an anti fungal, anti mold, and anti bacterial agent, and also protects the myelin sheath around our nerves. Copper even supports the cardiovascular system, making it a vital mineral for healthy living. With all of the ways that copper contributes to our health and well-being, it's clear that it's an essential mineral that we need to make sure we're getting enough of.

Interaction with hephaestin, ceruloplasmin, and ferroportin proteins

Iron needs to be bound to another molecule to be "usable". For hemoglobin, it binds to oxygen. If there's too much iron, it's stored in tissues, such as the liver, spleen, and gut. To utilize it, hephaestin, ceruloplasmin, and ferroportin are necessary.


This is how it works: Hephaestin and ceruloplasmin are two proteins made from the liver to help us utilize copper. Without them, copper cannot be used by the body appropriately and we can have issues such as copper toxicity. Once they bind to copper, copper goes on over to ferroportin, another protein, to help bind to iron and get iron out of the tissues, which will then bind to transferrin, another protein that transports iron. 


Copper Deficiency and Its Causes

It's easy to assume that getting copper in our diets is as simple as eating a few vegetables, but the truth is, it's not that easy. Sadly, our soils have been depleted due to years of unsustainable farming practices. The constant production on certain lands, along with the lack of circulation and remineralization, has resulted in a lack of nutrients in our food. Many farmers are working hard to bolster soil health and bring back much-needed nutrients like copper. In the meantime, let's do our part by consuming copper-rich foods and being mindful of our choices.


It's important to understand that being copper deficient is not a blanket diagnosis that applies to everyone. While some individuals may have enough copper in their system, they may still experience symptoms of deficiency because their body is unable to use it effectively. This can occur when the liver is struggling to produce the necessary proteins needed to utilize copper. 

Testing for Copper Deficiency and Related Issues

If you're feeling off, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. But by running a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA), you can get closer to uncovering the root of your issues. This type of test is particularly useful if you suspect that you might have some sort of copper dysregulation (read here) or metal toxicity, or if you believe that your liver might not be functioning at its best. With HTMA, you can get a more detailed look at your body's mineral levels, which can in turn help you determine the best course of action to improve your health. Plus, if you've been struggling with a low RBC count, an HTMA might help you identify any underlying issues that could be contributing to this problem.


In conclusion, understanding the role of copper in red blood cell production is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Low red blood cell count can be caused by various factors, including nutrient deficiencies like copper. Copper deficiency, which can result from poor farming practices and liver issues, plays a significant role in the body's overall function, including hemoglobin synthesis. To determine if you have a copper deficiency or related issues, consider getting a HTMA to identify any potential imbalances. By addressing these underlying causes and ensuring proper copper levels, you can support your body's ability to produce healthy red blood cells and ultimately improve your overall well-being.

To place an HTMA order today, please click here.

Barbara Madimenos
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach

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