Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hidden Copper Overload

The copper connection to low thyroid, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia.
Diagnosing copper overload is more of an art than an exact science. Ironically many people who have copper overload don’t initially test high in copper—at least 50% of my clients don’t—when they take a Tissue Mineral Analysis. Their metabolism is so depressed that the copper is tightly stored in tissue and hasn’t yet been released into circulation and deposited in the hair.

Yet, if they begin treatment for copper overload, eating a low-copper, high-zinc diet and taking supplements to boost their metabolism, copper will be mobilized from storage deports and show up in high amounts on a Tissue Mineral Analysis conducted within two months.

Since initial testing is simply not as sophisticated as the wisdom of our own bodies, taking my Copperhead Questionnaire will help you to better assess common symptoms and indicators associated with copper overload. If you answer “yes” to three or more questions in the quiz, some degree of copper overload is likely present:

1. Do you eat frequent light meals, but still lack energy? Meals consisting of legumes, whole grains, nuts, and especially soy products are healthy for some people, but not for those with copper overload.

2. Does your mind tend to race, even when your body is exhausted? Copper is a brain stimulant—it speeds up mental processing, so high levels usually lead to racing thoughts. But high levels also tamp down the thyroid and adrenal function, which are the glands most responsible for metabolism, and giving us our get-up-and-go.

3. Do you consider yourself a highly creative person, but one who is frequently anxious and drained of energy? Individuals who have high tissue copper levels tend to be right-brain dominant, thus they are intuitive, emotionally oriented, and artistically inclined—and tend to overdo it.

4. Do you tend to daydream and live in your head? People with copper overload sometimes are so overly creative that they become wrapped up in their thoughts and daydreams.

5. Do you frequently experience insomnia because your mind simply won’t calm down? Copper is a brain stimulant, so excess copper typically interferes with sleep.

6. Are you prone to emotional and physical highs and lows? Often people with copper overload are so stimulated by their creative ideas that they become emotionally and physically hyperactive for a while, drawing on borrowed energy despite their fundamental fatigue.

7. Do you have frequent cold and flus, slow wound healing, lack of taste or appetite, or white spots on your fingernails? These are all typical signs of a zinc deficiency—a common factor that leads to the development of copper overload. Zinc is the mineral antagonist or balancer to excess copper.

8. Do you suffer from any of the following conditions—migraine headaches, hyperactivity, panic attacks, mood swings, depression, premenstrual tension, or skin problems—for which no underlying cause has been identified? Women with high levels of copper in their body frequently experience these symptoms.

9. Do you have high estrogen levels or use birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, or a copper IUD? Estrogen and copper levels tend to go hand in hand in the body—as the level of one rises, the level of the other tends to rise, too.

10. Do you either crave or adversely react to high-copper foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, chocolate, soy products, avocados, and black tea? Individuals with copper overload tend to either crave foods high in copper (like those listed) or have adverse reactions to them.

11. Do you have areas of dark pigmentation or skin blotches on your face? Copper dependent melanin influences the color of hair, as well as the color of skin. Dark areas of pigmentation or skin blotches on the face are often signs of hidden copper overload. This unusual pigmentation is most likely to occur during pregnancy, when estrogen and copper levels rise.

Supplement Your Diet

A hidden place you may be ingesting copper is in your multivitamin. Copper-free multiples are hard to locate because even in the natural health industry, few people know about the problem of copper overload (meaning that most natural-product manufacturers don’t make copper-free products). I became aware of this problem when I learned that I had copper overload many years ago. As a result of my frustration at not being able to find a product that met my needs, I worked with UNI KEY to develop a copper-free multiple.

The supplement I developed, the Female Multiple, is completely free of copper and scientifically designed to meet the needs of women. I recommend it for all women who are tired and know or suspect that they have copper overload.

For those of you who are interested in having testing done, keep in mind that—as with most other tests—it’s helpful only if the results are evaluated correctly. I recommend UNI KEY’s Tissue Mineral Analysis. It measures levels of 29 major nutrient minerals and 8 toxic metals, is simple to do with speedy results, and comes with my personalized recommendations specific to you.

Take this advice from a fellow “copper head” and don’t allow preventable ailments to continue. With simple dietary and lifestyle change, you can cop out on copper. For more information on copper overload, please refer to my book, Why Am I Always So Tired?

-Edge On health, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman