Chapter 24: 45 Copper Antagonists (Some are also synergists!)
I have decided to order the list in “some kind of order”. It could have been alphabetical, but that’s typically useless. It could have been by category, such as minerals, then vitamins, etc. I decided to order the list from my favorite items to my least favorite items.
–iodine, (may block copper through increased sweating, and up to 1 mg of copper can be lost in sweat in a day)
–zinc, (blocks copper when zinc is taken above 50 mg, but usually blocks copper at 100 mg)
–vitamin C, (blocks copper through lowering ceruloplasmin at 1500 mg Vitamin C)
–Greens, (leafy green veggies are chelators and diuretics and absorb all minerals)
–boron, (boron supplementation causes more copper to come out in the urine)
–fiber, (like greens, fiber may absorb copper)
–selenium, (minerals are often antagonistic to copper)
–DMSO/MSM sulfur, (Sulfur is known to bind to copper, such as copper sulfate)
–silver, (silver is said to displace copper, yet silver is not involved in making enzymes, but silver does kill pathogens)
–molybdenum, (usually copper blocks molybdenum because most people get more copper than moly. But high moly soils can block copper in animals, by way of increasing copper excretion.)
–calcium, (a big curve: low calcium seems to hinder copper’s absorption. Some calcium helps. Too much calcium blocks.)
–potassium, (potassium also helps absorb copper, but at perhaps high levels, it blocks copper)
–sweating heavily, (Up to 1 mg of copper can be lost in sweat, more than the average person gets in a day)
–drinking distilled water, (distilled water has no minerals, and acts as a mild diuretic)
–sunlight, (copper may be used up in the process of converting dopamine to melanin, the color showing in a tan)
–niacin (Vitamin B3), (niacin binds to, and can block copper, especially if taken to excess. Copper can also block niacin.)
–coffee, (coffee is a diuretic, meaning it depletes minerals)
–sugar, (sugar contains no minerals and fructose blocks copper)
–phytate in many carbs, (phytates absorb copper in the gut, preventing you from absorbing it)
–excess dietary cholesterol
–stress, (I try to avoid things here, and below, on the list.) Stress can release cortisol and adrenaline, which use up copper.
–iron, (competitively blocks copper’s absorption)
–Vitamin D supplements, (Lowers Vitamin A, needed for ceruloplasmin, a copper transport enzyme)
–pain killers, (mints and painkillers both block copper) –prescription drugs & street drugs,
–fluoride, and other toxins,
Edited to add: Mercury, and other toxins, EDTA, Penicillamine, and other chelators, Tetrathiomolybdate, diuretics, Steroids.
Given that there are so many copper antagonists that lower or block copper, this would make it nearly impossible to study what “diets of X mg of copper” actually does. Because of so many potential cofounders, all these other things, we could expect to see a wide variety of potential outcomes. Naturally, the more copper blockers one takes or is influenced by, such as lead contamination, the more copper one would need. At one point, I was doing or taking 19 other copper antagonists simultaneously. And in the past, I had been doing several others, as well. No wonder I became copper deficient and benefitted from taking so much copper. That could, of course, possibly contribute to my bias in favor of copper.
Another factor to consider is that people who take many of the other good minerals and vitamins on the list that can block copper might not only need more copper, but might also tolerate far higher levels of copper far better than other people.
Some people mistakenly use zinc and Vitamin C to “lower toxic copper”. Others, like myself, take zinc and Vitamin C because they are each good in their own right, and I take extra copper to balance out their anti copper effects.
And another way to look at it, someone who only took copper as a supplement, and no other supplements, might need to take far less copper if they are not taking any of the other copper blocking supplements.
I apologize for the lack of proof or source for each of these on my list. Sometimes, I’m better at making lists than keeping track of my sources. In this case, I have been building my list of copper blockers for nearly 4 years. I have only intended to write this book for the last year.
Let’s review some of the evidence for the copper antagonists.
I do not have strong proof that iodine blocks copper. Iodine can increase sweating, and copper is lost in sweat. Iodine and copper can bind together, and both are easily excreted in the urine. Some people on the high iodine protocols appear to end up with adrenal fatigue, and copper gives us energy, and copper fixed my adrenal fatigue that developed a few months after I started on iodine. I don’t find it unusual that there is so little research in this area. The reason is that the high iodine movement is a very small minority of doctors and a small community. And none of the iodine doctors that I know of advocate copper, so maybe they just don’t know.
Taking 121 mg zinc with only 2 mg copper for 5 years caused a copper deficiency.
Yet, some zinc, at reasonable levels, increases copper absorption, as follows:
“Turnland et al. (1988a) found that diets low in zinc (below the dietary requirement) decreased copper absorption in humans; 48.1% of radiolabeled copper was absorbed when the diet contained 1.3 mg copper and 16.5 mg zinc (dietary requirement is 15 mg zinc), and 37.2–38.5% of radiolabelled copper was absorbed when the diet contained 1.3 mg copper and 5.5 mg zinc.”
So there is a curve for absorbing copper with zinc.
At low levels of zinc, 5.5 mg, copper is less well absorbed: 37% of 1.3 mg copper
At moderate levels of zinc, 16.5 mg of zinc, copper is better absorbed: 48% of 1.3 mg copper.
At high levels of zinc, 121 mg, even 2 mg of copper leads to copper deficiency.
Other data points, these studies appear to be speaking of people taking only zinc, and no copper:
“Excessive Intakes and Toxicity Acute toxicity, resulting in gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting, has been observed following the ingestion of 2 g (2000 mg) or more of zinc in the form of sulfate (Prasad, 1976). The more subtle effects of moderately elevated intakes, not uncommon in the U.S. population, are of greater concern, because they are not easily detected. Impairment of the copper status of volunteers by dietary zinc intakes of 18.5 mg (Festa et al., 1985) or 25 mg/day (Fischer et al., 1984) has been reported. Patients given zinc in quantities 10 to 30 times the RDA for several months developed hypocupremia, microcytosis, and neutropenia (Prasad et al., 1978). Zinc supplementation of healthy adults with amounts 20 times the RDA for 6 weeks resulted in the impairment of various immune responses (Chandra, 1984). Daily supplements of 80 to 150 mg caused a decline of high-density lipoproteins in serum after several weeks (Hooper et al., 1980). For these reasons, chronic ingestion of zinc supplements exceeding 15 mg/day is not recommended without adequate medical supervision.”
At 1500 mg of Vitamin C, it lowers ceruloplasmin. On the other hand, whole food Vitamin C contains copper in the center, and they are both needed to make collagen. Both appear necessary to stop bleeding.
Boron: [Use of antagonistic metals to correct copper metabolism in patients with hepatocerebral dystrophy].
“An inversely proportional relationship between the content of boron and copper in the patients’ urine was discovered, the fact, that points to their competition. It is recommended to use boron compounds for removing copper from the body if this metal is accumulated in pathological quantities.”
Of note, very few people supplement with boron. I do. Why? Boron helps us retain calcium and magnesium, and helps cure arthritis, and helps detox fluoride.
My article on boron:
My boron, plus the high iodine protocol, plus my weightlifting, could explain why I slipped back into copper deficiency so quickly when I stopped taking copper, and could explain “my bias” in favor of copper. Let’s either blame, or cheer, for the boron, iodine, and lifting, for my discoveries of copper!
“Copper absorption can be … inhibited by phytate, zinc, iron, molybdenum, calcium, and phosphorous.”
Molybdenum can block copper, but usually this effect is noted at extremely high moly levels in animals, or when a molybdenum containing drug is used to detox copper such as with Wilson’s Disease. Since molybdenum supplements come in low levels, this potential danger is minimal and rare.
Copper deficiency exacerbates bile duct ligation-induced liver injury and fibrosis in rats
In the study above, they induced or created copper deficiency in rats by giving them a drug, tetrathiomolybdate, at a”dose of 10 mg/kg by body weight”. 10 mg/kg for a man of 100 kilos would be 1000 mg of the molybdenum-containing drug. People normally get about 0.5 mg molybdenum in the diet or less, and about 0.35 mg of molybdenum is mostly found in a serving of beans. So, molybdenum blocking copper is not usually a valid concern, unless you are on that particular drug.
Phytate: Phytic acid foods:
Grains: Such as whole wheat, oats, and rice.
Legumes: Such as black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, soybeans, peanuts, and lentils.
Nuts and seeds: Such as walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and sesame seeds.
Tubers: Such as potatoes, turnips, beets, and carrots.
“Elevated levels of dietary zinc, as well as cadmium, high intakes of phytate and simple sugars (fructose, sucrose) inhibit dietary absorption of copper.”
I note: Sugar leads to lower copper and causes diabetes. Diabetes is a copper deficiency disease.
Copper absorption and bioavailability
“Copper status in humans can deteriorate when the predominant carbohydrate in the diet is fructose (40). The extensive use of fructose-containing sweeteners in convenience foods and beverages has made this finding relevant.”
“Zinc, Iron, Tin, Molybdenum” block copper.
Going sugar-free with aspartame is not the answer, as aspartame also binds to copper, and appears to block copper!
A theoretical and experimental study of calcium, iron, zinc, cadmium, and sodium ions absorption by aspartame
“Experimental studies show that aspartame causes osteoporosis and some illnesses, which are similar to those of copper and calcium deficiency”
I note that aspartame also causes nerve problems associated with Parkinson’s.
Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection?
“Aspartame (α-aspartyl-l-phenylalanine-o-methyl ester), an artificial sweetener, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems. Possible neurophysiological symptoms include learning problems, headache, seizure, mi
graines, irritable moods, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.”
“Further, it has been shown that excess dietary cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease by lowering the absorption of copper, an effect that is preventable by increasing the copper level in the diet.” Source: 31) L.M. Klevay, Biol Tr Elem Res 1988; 16: 51-57.
Conditioned copper deficiency due to antacids
A case report of TRISIBAM, 15 tablets a day, causing copper deficiency.
Severe copper deficiency due to excessive use of an antacid combined with pyloric stenosis
“A case of copper deficiency due to excessive use of an antacid…” “Copper deficiency disappeared after discontinuing of the antacid and beginning oral copper therapy.”
Next, on Vitamin D blocking copper:
Vitamin D lowers copper by lowering potassium and lowering ceruloplasmin, both of which are needed for copper absorption. Vitamin D also raises calcium levels too high, which can block copper.
“Vitamin A is necessary for the production of ceruloplasmin, a protein that binds to Copper to make it bioavailable. Unfortunately, Vitamin D lowers Vitamin A which lowers ceruloplasmin which makes copper bio-UNavailable.”
Vitamin D is bad enough for its role in suppressing copper, but the bigger problem is that it calcifies the soft tissues, causing arthritis, heart disease, and kidney calcification, and Vitamin D suppresses the immune system. And remember, copper reverses those problems, so Vitamin D could be causing those problems through the mechanism of inducing copper deficiency.
Here is my article on Vitamin D:
Here is the best study proving Vitamin D is counterproductive, in that it weakens bones, and does not strengthen them.
Stopping Vitamin D increased bone calcium.
Gains in bone mineral density with resolution of vitamin D intoxication
“Conclusions: Occult vitamin D intoxication was detected in patients who were using dietary supplements that contained an unadvertised high level of vitamin D. Resolution of vitamin D intoxication was associated with a rebound in bone mineral density.”
Copper binds to Niacin.
There is a copper/niacin supplement. (I believe it is vastly overpriced, and contains way too little copper.)
I felt very tired on high niacin, only 1500 mg. Copper gives us energy. But I felt that I just could not get energy from my copper, when taking that much niacin. Niacin is reported to make people tired, so it’s not just me.
In discussion with Dr. Mahmood, author of a paper on copper cited in chapter 17, he suggested Niacin may block copper.
Niacin is said to make one less anxious. Copper is said to be able to make people more anxious. Although copper made me more energized, not anxious, a subtle difference.
And after these insights that niacin could block copper, I found sources that say the same thing,
Chris Kresser: “So, these are things like vitamin B1, B3, (NIACIN) B6, folate, inositol, and choline, and those are all antagonistic to copper, and then there are some minerals that are antagonistic to copper, like zinc, of course, which we’ve been talking about, manganese, iron, sulfur, and molybdenum.”
“The vitamin niacin and the mineral copper are mutually antagonistic to each other as copper deficiency can be induced by large intakes of niacin. Excess copper increases the requirements for niacin and, as mentioned above, also for vitamin C. In people suffering from pellagra, copper retention and absorption increases.” From David L. Watts, Ph.D. at
On the complementary side, both niacin and copper help us “feel good”. Niacin appears to activate the reward center of the brain that runs on dopamine. Copper helps us make dopamine. Unfortunately, both copper and niacin can each induce a bit of nausea, and taken together, that can sometimes be even worse.
Curcumin binds copper:
Curcumin interaction with copper and iron suggests one possible mechanism of action in Alzheimer’s disease animal models
“Using spectrophotometry, we quantified curcumin affinity for copper, zinc, and iron ions. Zn2+ showed little binding, but each Cu2+ or Fe2+ ion appeared to bind at least two curcumin molecules.”
Sunlight: I am only guessing that the sunlight could block copper. I believe it would help use up copper, as the body converts dopamine into melatonin in the tanning process. I often feel tired after tanning in the sun. With copper, I do not feel as tired after the sun. Copper also helps me tolerate the sun far more, I get better tanning, a darker tan, and I’m much less likely to get a sunburn.
Regarding aluminum. I am not listing aluminum as a copper antagonist, as I can find no evidence that it lowers copper.
However, it appears that aluminum is more toxic during copper deficiency and that copper acts as a protective mechanism against aluminum toxicity.
Protective effects of copper against aluminum toxicity on acetylcholinesterase and catecholamine contents of different regions of rat’s brain
“In overall, it has been found that copper may have a protective-like ability to hinder aluminum toxicity in the brain.”
” It was found that aluminum accumulated in the pituitary glands and testes when dietary copper levels were suboptimal.”
Aluminum is found in increased amounts in the brains of Autistic children. See Chris Exley’s work:
Aluminium in human brain tissue from donors without neurodegenerative disease: A comparison with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism
Copper is also higher in the brains of the Autistic and those with Alzheimer’s. Due to the political climate around vaccines, and this particular controversy in Autism, I was planning on not mentioning Autism at all in this book. However, after having written most of the book at this time, and finding this aluminum/copper connection, it could explain why there is more copper in the brains of those with Autism as well, as the body might be putting copper there on purpose as a reaction to help detoxify the high aluminum.
I found a similar kind of effect noted by researchers of mercury and copper in the kidney. When adding mercury to animals, copper levels in the kidney rose 7 times higher, without the addition of any copper at all!
Next, bromide may lower copper. Bromide at least binds with copper, as do the other halides, fluoride, iodide, and chloride.
Does copper both increase and decrease copper? Copper blocks copper absorption, and copper assists copper absorption. How are both of these states possible?
It is said that taking copper will increase both ceruloplasmin and metallothionein, copper transport proteins. This would increase copper, over time. But it takes time for the body to make more of those proteins, perhaps from a month or two. Some studies show taking copper increases ceruloplasmin, others see no effect.
On the other hand, when copper intake increases from about 1 mg to 10 mg, copper absorption does not go up 10 fold, instead it only doubles. But this has only been studied in the short term. They don’t know what happens in the long term. Perhaps in the long term, we can absorb more copper, from taking more copper, after we make more copper transport proteins.
Oh yes, one final note. I lost the source, I apologize… but copper deficiency over several generations appears to reduce the ability of the rat to absorb and use copper. At first, I thought this was extremely discouraging, which is why I lost the source. A day later, I realized the flip side. This also may explain why we might all need more copper than humans historically needed, given it has now been several generations of humans who have been copper deprived through depleted food, extra iron, and fluoridated water. My father and his father were alcoholics, and I battled that as well. And alcohol depletes copper, among all these other things we cannot avoid.
And maybe, this reduced ability to absorb copper is simply one of those things that takes time to fix. Studies are often done over a far too short of a duration. And it’s only a reduced ability, not zero ability.