Zinc is touted as a vital mineral for men. It is intimately linked to the trace mineral copper however, and this is highly important because this balance between the two minerals is crucial to living healthily as a male. Copper and zinc both aid in the metabolism and excretion of one another. One source says the optimum ratio of copper to zinc is 1:8. Too much of one or the other can cause problems.
Most men will not have a problem with copper deficiency in the United States thanks to copper piping and a lack of zinc in the diet. The problem here will most likely be excessive copper, as men should have more zinc than copper compared to women.
In women, copper is highly important for the production of estrogen. What this means for men however is that an excess (or imbalance) of copper in relation to zinc will lead to an upset in testosterone-related hormones.
Here are some symptoms related to an imbalance of copper:
- Growth and developmental delay
- Depression and moodiness
- Low energy/variable energy, possible form of anemia
- Chronic infections and illness (hence why zinc is an “immunity” mineral)
- Craving for high-copper foods (chocolate, cashews, etc.)
- Low libido and sexual issues (prostate problems, etc.)
- Issues with skin and hair (dandruff, acne, etc.)
Causes of copper imbalance
Aside from diet, lifestyle and stress can be the biggest contributors. Anything that causes the adrenals to burn out the body’s zinc will push copper up in relation, causing the acute symptoms of both copper toxicity and copper deficiency. During a low of copper in the blood, there is a craving for copper-rich foods like chocolate or cashews as this mineral is stimulating. However, copper on its own in men is not good as it has estrogenic and depressive properties.
Excessive copper can also come from food sources and copper piping. Eating a vegan or vegetarian-style diet can cause too much copper to build up in the body, not to mention an excess of carbohydrates and possibly protein, and not enough fat.
Eat some fatty food (in moderation)
If you’re eating paleo with some organ meats, whole animal products like raw whole milk and butter, and you’ve already added some greens, roughage and resistant starch to the mix, chances are you won’t have to worry about getting enough “good fat” in your diet to keep the copper balanced and floating in the body. Most readers are familiar with paleo and so this is most likely not an issue. Fat, meat and plants can co-exist peacefully in a well-balanced diet.
For those of you who eat exclusively low-fat, I have bad news for you: copper is excreted mainly by the bile. If the body’s not using its bile to digest fat as it normally would, copper builds up in the system, wreaking its cupric havoc — I assume this would explain the term “melancholic,” referring to the black bile of the old “four humors” personality theory. In people who eat too little fat or get too little zinc in their diet, it’s safe to say that they suffer from this depressive, melancholic disposition due to a build up of bile and by extension, copper.
The copper crash
For those who are naturally “high in copper,” exhilarating activity like exercise, drugs and other stimulating activities become addictive to them because the adrenals stimulate the release of copper due to the use of zinc. However, once the zinc is spent the copper goes back into the tissues causing an adrenal crash.
For me, I suspect I experience this because sometimes I have a “high” and a sudden low that is sometimes unrelated to the carbohydrates I’ve eaten throughout the day. I am not quite bipolar, but I have a hunch that bipolar behavior is related to these blood copper fluctuations.
Getting copper under control
Start with a supplement containing zinc if you aren’t already getting enough through beef and other foods. Testojack 100 is a good place to start for most men as it contains other beneficial minerals, B vitamins and herbs. Selenium is also a helpful trace mineral and antioxidant that can help the body to balance its copper levels, but should be cycled. I will cover this mineral later.
Your diet should consist of a balance of fats, complex carbs from green vegetables, resistant starches and protein from animal sources, not just exclusively one type of food or macronutrient.
Another cause for copper imbalance is adrenal fatigue and stress in general. When you can calm down and help your adrenals to recover, you will be more apt to arrest the issues caused by copper. This means cutting back on the coffee and other stimulants and getting rid of foods that exacerbate the condition.
Article on Copper Toxicity Syndrome by Dr. Wilson
Adrenal fatigue and copper overload