The Copper Revolution: Ch. 3: DC Nutrition Article Summary

Chapter 3: DCNutrition One of my favorite articles on copper is from a Chiropractor and pharmacist, Dr. Winston Greene, who quotes many very important scientific studies.  This is a much more “pro copper” article.  As we go over these articles, there will be repetition.  This is good, as this helps us learn and remember, like lines from our favorite movies.

The best things I learned from this article were that copper is needed to help convert the thyroid hormone T4 to T3.  And that copper deficiency can lead to sagging eyelids.  My wife had both problems, high T4 and low T3, and one sagging eyelid, which has since healed from taking copper supplements.  I also recently learned elsewhere that magnesium also helps convert T4 to T3.

The article also mentions how “swayback” in animals is from copper deficiency.  I noticed in myself, over the last 5 years, my back has straightened out from taking copper!

The next best thing I learned from this article is that copper helps prevent heart disease by cleaning out cholesterol.  While that has never been my great concern for myself, I can see this is a very big deal for our nation, since heart disease is the number one leading cause of death.  Other things that clean out cholesterol are greens, and cayenne pepper, and magnesium, things I have known about and have taken for a long time.  Copper is less well known for this.  Copper stops bleeding and I have read elsewhere that cholesterol accumulates in the vessels as a means to clot potential bleeds.  When the vessels are stronger from collagen, there is less of a need to patch them up with cholesterol.  Furthermore, copper boosts the master hormone DHEA in the adrenals, which is converted to so many other hormones in the body, including testosterone.  In fact, cholesterol is a “sterol”, or “steroid”, just as testosterone is a steroid, and thus, the so-called “bad” cholesterol is a precursor to super good testosterone, and copper not only helps clear out the arteries and improve blood circulation but also helps build muscle and increase healing through increasing testosterone.  Many other minerals and herbs can also boost testosterone, such as iodine, boron, and especially zinc.  Even magnesium boosts testosterone.

There is so much in this article, I find it difficult to summarize it all, and reorganize it. This is my only complaint. But that is my task, to summarize, and put it all into easily understandable words, and to list all the things copper does in the body, listing both deficiency symptoms, and listing other interesting facts.

Quick facts from the introduction at 

“Copper is found in igneous rocks at 55 ppm; shale at 45 ppm; sandstone at 5 ppm; limestone 4 ppm; fresh water at 0.01 ppm; seawater at 0.003 ppm; soils at 2 to 100 ppm… marine plants 11 ppm; land plants 14 ppm; marine animals 4 to 50 ppm… land animals at 2 to 4 ppm…”

“Symptoms Associated with Copper Deficiency
White hair
Gray hair
Dry brittle hair (“steely wool” in sheep)
Ptosis (sagging tissue – eyelids, skin etc.) (sagging eyelid could be from lack of nerve conductivity)
Hernias (Congenital and acquired)
Varicose veins
Aneurysms (large artery blowouts, cerebral artery blowouts) Kawasaki Disease (congenital aneurysms with Streptococcal infection)
Anemia (especially in vegan and high milk diets)
Hypo and hyperthyroid
Arthritis (especially where the growth plate is involved) Ruptured vertebral disc
Liver cirrhosis
Violent behavior, blind rage, explosive outbursts, criminal behavior
Learning disabilities
Cerebral palsy and hypoplasia of the cerebellum (congenital ataxia–loss of control of body movements (dead nerves)) High blood cholesterol
Iron storage disease (abnormal iron accumulation in the liver)
Reduced glucose tolerance (low blood sugar)
Neutropenia (low neutrophils) (low white blood cells–recognized as a classic sign of copper deficiency)

Copper is essential to all living organisms and is a universally important cofactor for many hundreds of metalloenzymes. 

Cerebral Palsy (characterized by lack of myelin, the fatty coating around the nerves) is from copper deficiency.
Ruptured Aneurysms are from copper deficiency.  4-6% of people die from them, and 40% of dead people have Aneurysms in development.

“The average well-nourished adult human body contains between 80 and 120 mg of copper. Concentrations are higher in the brain, liver, heart and kidneys. Bone and muscle have lower percentages of copper but contain 50 percent of the body total copper reserves because of their mass. It is of interest that the greatest concentration of copper is found in the newborn and their daily requirement is 0.08 mg/kg, toddlers require 0.04 mg/kg and adults only 0.03 mg/ kg.”

“The average plasma copper for women ranges from 87 to 153 mg/dl and for men it ranges from 89 to 137 mg/dl; about 90 percent of the plasma copper is found in ceruloplasmin.”  Average does not necessarily mean “optimal”, if, for example, the average person is copper deficient. 

Copper deficiency in pregnant women results in congenital defects of the baby’s heart.   Kawasaki Disease and brain cerebral palsy.

Copper is needed for the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) and to keep blood vessels strong, so they don’t burst or bleed out.

Copper is needed for the skeleton and the nerves. 

Copper deficiency results in anemia.

Copper strengthens the hair and fingernails and is responsible for hair color.

Low white blood cell count is an indication of copper deficiency in infants. 

Infants fed only cow’s milk become low in copper, and get anemia.

Menkes’ syndrome is a rare copper absorption problem.  They get low overall growth, strange hair and nails, loss of hair pigment, low body temperature, aneurysms (burst blood vessels), arthritis, and mental deterioration.

Pregnant women have high copper in the blood (100% more), and so do women on oral birth control, (and IUDs.)

Copper is high in the blood also during infections, liver disease, and niacin deficiency.

Copper and the Thyroid:

Copper deficiency caused high cholesterol, and low body temperature in rats.  The rats also had high TSH and low T3, (a common problem in people with thyroid problems).  The copper enzyme that converts T4 to T3 was low in copper-deficient rats.

That study suggests that low copper can cause hypothyroidism.

Copper, zinc, selenium, and iodine) are all needed by the thyroid for thyroid hormones.

Dr. Carl Pfeiffer thought copper was toxic, and a cause of schizophrenia.  He worked for the CIA and worked with Abram Hoffer, an advocate of Niacin.  I believe Abram Hoffer’s bias was also against copper.  I note that too much niacin at levels up to 3000 mg a day is associated with liver disease, a symptom of low copper.  I believe niacin blocks copper, which I cover later.  Abram Hoffer is associated with Andrew Saul, a high vitamin C advocate, and Vitamin C also lowers ceruloplasmin, and thus copper. These guys advocate “Orthomolecular medicine”, a term meaning “right molecule”.

Wiki says they advocate minerals, but they do not advocate copper, which is strange.  Perhaps this is why their ideas are said to be not very effective.

—– continuing to summarize:

The body of an adult contains 100 mg to 150 mg of copper. 
Copper helps to make collagen.  (Also, Vitamin C and silica help make collagen)

Copper and collagen strengthen cartilage, tendons, bones, and blood vessels.  (Also muscles, and other tissues, preventing hernias and hemorrhoids, etc.)

Copper helps maintain lung tissue and prevent emphysema.

Copper insulates nerve cells by making the myelin sheath.

Copper prevents oxidative damage.

Copper helps energy production, in the mitochondria, and helps burn fat.

Copper helps make norepinephrine, both a neurotransmitter and adrenal hormone.

About 30% of dietary copper (1-3 mg) is assimilated.

“The standard American diet is copper-deficient and between 66% and 75% of the U.S. population do not consume enough copper.”

Dieters, older people, and alcoholics are vulnerable to copper deficiency.

Things that increase the need for copper: “excessive dietary fiber, high zinc supplements (50 mg or more daily), cadmium, excessive vitamin C and excessive sugar (fructose) intake (at least in rats).”

Low copper intakes (copper deficiency) increase the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, low immunity, “gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia, nervous disorders, decreased pigmentation of the skin, fragile bones and erratic heartbeat.”  Also, “increased oxidative damage to cell membranes.”  Also, low norepinephrine.

“There are certain precautions to keep in mind for copper supplements. Consumption of 10 to 15 mg of copper daily can cause side effects.”  (I note that such side effects were not listed, so that’s likey a bad opinion, or perhaps a result of a half-hearted overly quick thinker who is quickly trying to synthesize his knowledge of an upper limit established at 10 mg, with the idea that copper is toxic at some level that is likely just over that?)

“A green stain in the sink from a faucet drip, or in a teakettle, suggests excessive copper in drinking water, leached (by fluoride!) from copper plumbing.”

—– continuing to summarize: Copper Physiology

1.  “Copper is required for cellular respiration, bone formation,” the heart, “connective tissue development (collagen), myelination of the spinal cord (and nerves),” hair and nails, “and tissue pigmentation.”

Copper does its work by helping the body make many important enzymes that require copper.  With copper deficiency, these enzymes are poorly produced, and in lesser quantities (and less active).

Copper is needed to make red blood cells.  Anemia develops with iron deficiency and copper deficiency (and several B vitamin deficiencies as well).  Blood cells have a shorter life span with copper deficiency.

Copper helps the body both absorb and use iron. (Most people get plenty, or too much, iron in American food diets.)

2.  Aortic aneurysms result from low copper which helps build collagen.

3.  Copper helps convert protein into skin and hair color.  Copper converts the amino acid tyrosine to tyrosinase, then dopamine, then melanin, which causes both skin and hair pigmentation, or tanning and hair color. Copper makes keratin, needed for normal and strong hair and nails.

4.  Copper is needed to make the myelin sheath around the nerves.  Low copper results in brain and nerve disorders.  Low copper results in low neurotransmitters (which helps nerves communicate) norepinephrine and dopamine.

5.  Copper deficiency results in miscarriage.  And anemia, low growth, and bleeding.  From poor blood cell development and low collagen, resulting in low growth.

6.  With low copper, resulting in low white blood cells, they cannot defeat candida.  Other infections are also greater.

7.  Copper helps digest and burn fat. 

“The National Institutes of Health did a study showing that 81 percent of people have less than two-thirds of the recommended daily allowance of copper (of 0.9 mg).”  “Another study revealed that hospital meals provide only 0.76 mg of copper per day, whereas people need 2-4 mg for health, and even more for healing.”  “A study by the Food and Drug Administration showed that, in an analysis, 234 foods that constitute the core of the American diet provided less than 80 percent of the RDA of copper.”  (Copper is only high in liver, a food seldom eaten.)

“So all copper studies seem to point to the majority of people being deficient.”

“When we studied 228 of our patients, 165 (or 72 percent) were deficient in copper.”

“So, no matter whose studies you look at over the last 20 years, there is a wealth of data showing that copper deficiency is rampant in the United States.”

(The most reliable way to test if you have enough copper is to ask yourself if you eat liver several times a week, or take a lot of copper supplements.  If not, you are likely low in copper.  A multi-mineral or multivitamin usually has far too little copper, and too many other copper blocking minerals.)

—– continuing to summarize: Why Copper Is Needed

Copper helps the body make an enzyme that breaks down histamine.  Copper is an antihistamine.

Copper helps the body make another enzyme that boosts energy.

Copper helps the body make an enzyme that detoxes and reduces chemical sensitivities.
Copper helps the body’s detox pathways function.

Copper helps make the copper/zinc enzyme, SOD, which prevents aging, and arthritis.  In nearly all diseases, lower SOD is found, for example, Alzheimer’s and Cancer.


Copper boosts glutathione, a major detox enzyme.

Copper deficient rats develop liver disease and death when exposed to carbon tetrachloride.  Copper sufficient rats do not.

Copper boosts mood through increasing dopamine.

Copper helps make 4 neurotransmitters: dopamine and serotonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline).

I note: A copper-containing enzyme, Dopamine_beta-hydroxylase, converts dopamine to norepinephrine, the direct precursor to epinephrine (adrenaline).  To get the final product, epinephrine, we only need methylation, which is easy.  Exercise alone boosts adrenaline.

The Heart Protector

Copper protects against “arteriosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia, aneurysms (weakened or burst blood vessels), EKG abnormalities, hypercoagulable states… and sugar metabolism.”  Copper helps metabolize cholesterol into hormones. 

A copper enzyme (delta-9 desaturase) helps metabolize fatty acids and increases the strength of cell walls and cell nuclear membranes, and other membranes.

Zinc, molybdenum, and iron are all both complementary and antagonistic to copper.  Too much copper can block all three of the others.

Copper is anti-inflammatory and is good for Lupus.


Lead blocks copper.  Swayback in animals is a copper deficiency.

Both Swayback and MS are nerve demyelination disorders fixed by copper. 

Copper salts prevented swayback from demyelination (destruction of the fatty coating around nerve cells) in animals.

Copper Deficiency Symptoms:

“anemia, neutropenia, hypopigmentation (graying) of the hair and skin, abnormal bone formation with skeletal fragility and osteoporosis, vascular abnormalities and crimped or steely hair.”

There are no good ways to test copper in the body.  Levels of copper in the blood, urine, hair will be depressed only in very copper-deficient people.  Low SOD (superoxide dismutase) might be a better way to detect copper deficiency. (This is disputed).
Neutropenia is copper deficiency.

In the 1920s copper was found to be important for red blood cell formation.  Then, also for the formation of aortic elastin in the heart.

Excess zinc, which can block copper, can lead to heart disease. (Klevay, 1975)

Note the name, Klevay, who has done a lot of research on copper deficiency leading to heart disease.  I quote a few of his articles later.

Copper deficient animals end up with too much cholesterol, too much uric acid in the blood, glucose intolerance, and heart problems, connective tissue problems, and fat deposits in the arteries.  Copper deficient animals may die from ruptured heart aortic walls.

In 1982, 75% of people got less than 2 mg of copper per day.  Later sources show 80% of people get less than 0.7 mg copper per day and are deficient.

Tissue distribution

Copper is found and needed by most tissues in the body.  It’s used for cell respiration and energy.  Copper is used to make connective tissues, collagen in bones (and the bone marrow), and blood vessels.  Copper is used in multiple ways by the nerves.  Most people only have about 80 mg of copper in their bodies.  Maybe up to 120 mg.  Infants may have about 6-10 times more copper in the liver than adults.  (Note, in Wilson’s Disease, it’s 5 times as much copper in the liver). Copper (and zinc) are found in SOD, superoxide dismutase, found in red blood cells.

(Low SOD activity has been linked to lung diseases such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD))

Copper is bound to ceruloplasmin in the blood.  Ceruloplasmin helps transport both copper and iron.

Copper intake and assessment of copper status.

There are no reliable tests to determine copper deficiency. 

Less than or equal to 2.6 mg Cu/d for periods of up to 42 d is not sufficient for recovery from copper deprivation.

People get less copper in the modern era due to greater consumption of processed and sugary foods.  (Sugar blocks copper.)

Low copper is associated with aneurysms.

Copper deficient piglets grew smaller, but had enlarged hearts.  These findings are similar to rats.  Many cardiac disturbances are found among many different animals when copper is deficient.

Copper deficient rats were anemic, and exhibited a larger heart.

—– continuing to summarize:

Copper? You Bet Your Heart!

Infants, fed cow’s milk, which is low in copper, become malnourished.

Copper is needed for the nerves, the immune system, “as well as the lung, thyroid, pancreas, and kidney.”

Copper deficiency hurts the heart and blood vessels.  The heart’s ability to pump blood is weakened, as the heart weakens.  With copper deficiency, the heart also has less energy.  Blood vessels do not dilate, or open up, with copper deficiency.  This leads to high blood pressure, and the blood does not circulate as well.  (In addition, blood cells themselves are weakened, and they are fewer (anemia).  This further reduces blood circulation’s effects.  Clotting is also impaired, there is increased bleeding, and reduced ability of the body to dissolve clots.

“And finally, copper-deficient blood vessels tend to leak excessive fluid into injured tissues, thus exaggerating swelling.” 

(Copper is an anti-inflammatory.  This is the first time I have seen a rather solid potential mechanism of action for copper reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after working out.  As far as I know, I’m the only one who has discovered that copper reduces DOMS.  Upon further reflection after having written this book, copper’s power to detoxify the body, make collagen, make ATP, and help the nerves by increasing neurotransmitters, and boosting testosterone and other hormones, clear out blood vessels of cholesterol, increase red blood cells, and increase blood supply, are several other mechanisms of action that may contribute to reducing muscle soreness after workouts).

It is difficult to study copper deficiency in humans without hurting them. 

The liver is the highest copper food, and people should take water-soluble copper supplements.  (Copper sulfate dissolves easily in liquid, and is easily absorbed by humans.)

Copper intake and assessment of copper status.

People become deficient in copper on 1 mg of copper per day, which is above the RDA of 0.9 mg.  Again, “more than 2.6 milligrams of copper per day may be needed to recover from the effects of copper deficiency.”

—– continuing to summarize:

Lack of a recommended dietary allowance for copper may be hazardous to your health.

Most people do not get the RDA of 1 mg of copper per day.  This likely leads to irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

They believe a copper RDA of 1-3 mg is better.

Copper for Cancer.

Copper is needed to make enzymes that are required for cells to use oxygen. 

Copper metabolism is disrupted in the presence of cancer.

“A reduction in tumor growth was reported (Oberley et al., 1982) when CF1 mice were injected with a single dose of Cu Zn-SOD one hour after they implanted Sarcoma 180 tumor cells.”

Copper inhibits tumor growth.  It might be from increasing oxygen or detoxing, or both.

(I note that copper detoxes fluoride, which is said to cause cancer, and of course, there is controversy about that, too.  Copper is also antifungal, and cancer is said to be fungal, and fungal infections are very often present with cancer, and they often give anti fungal drugs to cancer patients.  Like copper, iodine and boron are also both antifungal, and both also detox fluoride!)