We've all heard of "copper toxicity" or "copper dysregulation" and some people wonder how in the world did they even develop it in the first place?
Are they drinking from copper pipes?
Do they have a copper IUD?
Is there copper in their foods?
It's confusing for some because so many people, especially for those who are health conscious are "doing everything right" and can't figure it out.
This is why we're here today to help break it down and explain some of the most common possibilities on as to how someone can develop copper dysregulation without necessarily even over exposing themselves to copper.
Firstly, let's understand how we use copper in the body.
There is a specific protein called ceruloplasmin made in both the adrenals and the liver. Without this specific protein, we cannot carry copper nor use it as it is considered "bio unavailable" without ceruloplasmin. In times in which we are stressed or have a lot of toxin accumulation, but the adrenal glands and liver will then slow down, which then leaves us susceptible to copper excess, for the production of ceruloplasmin can dwindle.
Conversely, we then have another protein called metallothionein which helps increase the resistance of cells to exposure to high copper and helps with the utilization of zinc, which in a sense helps control copper in the body. This protein is also found in the liver, as well as in the kidneys. Why is this important? Because the kidneys are what carry the adrenals and primarily work off of two specific minerals: sodium and potassium, which also regulate the adrenal glands.
Are seeing connections so far? Cellular hydration, adrenal, kidney and liver function are all main stake holders in preventing copper accumulation in the body.
Now, let's take this one step further and ask ourselves, okay, we have acknowledged we're stressed both physically and mentally, but aside from reducing the stressors in one's life, how else would be remove the excess copper?
The answer? Bile flow.
Copper is a fat soluble mineral and must go through the liver in order to be processed and excreted out. Interestingly enough, estrogen, the hormone that copper mirrors on a test, goes down a similar pathway and needs to be removed from the body through the liver. So let's first understand how bile works.
Bile is a sticky fluid that consist of bile salts, electrolytes, bile pigments, cholesterol and other fats that comes out of the liver and is stored into the gall bladder until it is secreted into the small intestine when needed to digest fats and eliminate certain waste products (like hemoglobin's, heavy metals, excess hormones, and excess cholesterol). It is considered that bile salts function as nutrient signaling hormones by activating certain receptors and when don't have enough of these bile salts to activate these receptors, this in turn can lead to dysregulation in the body like hormonal imbalances or digestive issues.
If our liver is not working properly to produce enough bile, we lack the ability to bind to hormones, toxins, excess metals, etc., which can then have them recirculate into our system.
Symptoms of poor bile flow can look like jaundice of the skin, low appetite, constipation, acne, acid reflux, nutrient deficiencies (particularly fat soluble vitamins), high cholesterol, sensitivity to chemicals or fragrances, excess estrogen symptoms, anger, floating or light colored stool and more.
Without proper bile flow, we wouldn't be able to detox copper, which would also be a sign of low production of ceruloplasmin and metallothionine. So question now is, how do we fix and how can minerals play a role?
Glad you asked!
Aside from the basic food and lifestyle recommendations like reaching for cruciferous vegetables, hydrating, eating bitter foods, maybe even considering an ox bile supplement- all of these are great. However, there are some minerals that can help nudge the excess copper out.
Zinc, because it is fueled by the other protein metallothionein, it will cause cellular resistance to absorbing excess copper and balance out zinc within the cells. Conversely, taking zinc in itself is antagonistic to copper and supports a stress response, especially if someone is struggling with a high Na:K ratio on an HTMA.
Manganese is a copper antagonist and is usually utilized supportively when zinc is contraindicated due to a low sodium level or a low Na:K ratio.
Sulfur is vital for detoxification, specifically in the liver. Sulfur compounds are important for binding to copper and other metals to help excrete them out of the body, as well as nourish the liver in phase 2 detoxification.
If you're concerned you might have copper dysregulation and need a more concrete and bio individual protocol for yourself, click here to purchase an HTMA kit with us to then book a consult with one of our nutritionists!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach