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Veganism and Copper Toxicity

Veganism and Copper Toxicity

Veganism and Copper Toxicity

It's common knowledge that copper is an essential mineral for our health - but did you know that too much of it can actually be detrimental? Copper toxicity is a real concern, and it's important to make sure that we're not getting an excess of this important element. Our bodies need the right balance of copper and other nutrients to function at their best, and that's why it's essential to be mindful of our intake. At the end of the day, it's clear that moderation is key when it comes to copper - and that finding the right balance is crucial for our health and wellbeing.


Copper Toxicity vs. Copper Dysregulation


Copper dysregulation can make life difficult with myriad symptoms that impact quality of life. It's important to differentiate copper toxicity from dysregulation, albeit it's not always easy. While copper toxicity has become a common topic among many of us, copper dysregulation is not as well-known. It's a condition that's often overlooked or misdiagnosed. 


Copper toxicity means you have too much copper in your system, while copper dysregulation means you struggle to use copper properly, even in normal amounts. This causes side effects similar to toxicity and affects other minerals and organ systems like zinc, iron, and the liver.


Symptoms of Copper Toxicity

Copper toxicity is a complex biological condition that can have serious health implications if left untreated.Copper toxicity is when the body accumulates excess copper, leading to tissue buildup. If you experience constant fatigue, gut issues, poor immunity, depression, or other unexplained symptoms, it might be the cause. Symptoms of copper toxicity include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Graying of hair
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Infertility
  • Estrogen dominance (painful periods, heavy periods, long periods, PMS)
  • Viral infections
  • Candida or other fungal infections
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Low muscle mass

Factors That Increase Susceptibility to Copper Toxicity

If you're someone who is susceptible to copper toxicity, it's important to first acknowledge that it can be overwhelming and scary to navigate. The reality is, there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to excess copper in the body, like certain medications like birth control, the copper IUD, drinking out of copper pipes, and certain dietary choices. For those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it can be particularly challenging to monitor copper levels since plant-based foods tend to have higher amounts of copper. 


Eating a plant-based diet is great, but it's crucial to keep an eye on the risks. Vegan diets often miss out on essentials like zinc, which can lead to yeast or fungal overgrowths, mental health issues, and low stomach acidity. While we can find zinc in nuts, seeds, and legumes, it's important to also add animal-based products to regulate digestion and acid levels. When it comes to designing a healthy and sustainable diet, balance is key.


The Role of Zinc in Preventing Copper Toxicity

Our bodies are remarkable complex machines that rely on a variety of nutrients to function properly. One mineral that often doesn't get the attention it deserves is zinc. Zinc plays a significant role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our bodies - from supporting digestion and muscle mass to pancreatic enzyme activity and cognitive function. Despite its importance, many people don't consume enough zinc in their diets. If you're looking to boost your zinc intake, don't worry - it's easier than you might think.


When it comes to our hormones, maintaining balance is key. That's why it's important to pay attention to the levels of zinc and copper in our diets. Did you know that zinc is like the knight in shining armor for progesterone and testosterone? On the other hand, copper represents estrogen and can cause havoc when not kept in check by zinc. Consider a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) to identify mineral imbalances. Eating a diet low in copper and high in zinc, as recommended, can help prevent hormonal imbalances. Let's help our hormones help us!


Plant-Based Diets and Copper Toxicity

Choosing to adopt a plant-based diet has become increasingly popular over the years for a variety of reasons. However, it's important to note that a plant-based focus diet, or veganism, may be low in sulfur containing compounds found in proteins such as taurine, cysteine, carnitine, creatine, and methionine. This may seem concerning at first, but fear not! Sulfur is crucial for liver detox, and some amino acids are sulfur-based. They also help synthesize proteins for detox and maintaining metabolism.


Cysteine, found in phytochelatins, aids metallothionein formation, which assists in heavy metal detox. Since vegans have less access to it in their diet, zinc supplements can also help.


The Benefits of Copper in the Body

It’s true that copper is an essential mineral for the human body, helping with various functions such as ATP production and hemoglobin synthesis. However, it’s vital to strike a balance and contain this mineral at a reasonable level. While copper has its benefits, an excess amount can cause harm to the body. As such, it’s essential to consume copper within manageable limits while also ensuring we pair it with other vital nutrients. It can be tricky to navigate this, but we can start by doing our due diligence in managing our copper intake. Through proper nutrition and moderation, we can lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle that benefits our overall wellbeing.


If you suspect that you may have copper toxicity, it's not a good idea to simply guess and test on your own. Instead, we invite you to test by checking via HTMA test for identifying copper toxicity and other mineral imbalances. Let us assist you in taking the right steps towards a healthier you. Click here!

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

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