Previously, I've written about my acne and sex drive problems. At the advise of the good people of paleohacks, I went down to my local lab to get some blood work done. As advised, I got copper and zinc tests. I didn't have enough money to do a full endocrinology profile so for now I only managed to get estrogen and cortisol tested.
Serum copper: 20.7 umol/L. Reference: 12.6 - 24.3
Serum zinc:16.2 umol/L. Reference: 10.7 - 18.4
S-caeruloplasmin: 31 mg/dl. Reference:25 - 60.
S-17b-oestradiol: 81 pmol/L
S-cortisol: 135 nmol/1. AM Reference: 101 - 535.
What does this mean? Am I any closer to understanding if excess copper is the cause of my poor skin and low sex drive?
asked byHannah_15 (45)
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on July 04, 2013
at 06:04 AM
I have a zinc:copper imbalance myself and my doctor treats this as one of his specialties.
Zinc and copper should always be assessed together in terms of their ratio, in addition to whether they are in range or not. Also, usually plasma zinc is the measure of choice for zinc status rather than serum zinc - plasma zinc for some reason is believed to be more indicative of status rather than serum zinc. Plasma zinc levels are usually lower by a few umol/L than serum zinc.
The ideal ratio is between 1:1 and 1:0.75 zinc:copper. So this means that you do not have enough zinc in ratio to copper.
It can take quite a while to fix the imbalance, up to a year or more. I have been working on it myself for over two years. I took a mis-step when I used EDTA to chelate aluminium and mercury -it took a lot of zinc with it, so just be wary of any chelation as it will affect mineral status.
The most straightforward approach is to limit high copper foods: liver, oysters, avocado, buckwheat, cashews, cocoa. It's frustrating but doesn't have to be done forever, perhaps just for 6 months and then being careful not to overdo high copper foods. It's important to be aware that even though some of these foods are high in zinc they are also very high in copper which doesn't help matters. The ratio of zinc:copper in foods is important.
Also, the best form of zinc is picolinate, Thorne or NOW brand are pretty good. Usually the dose is 1mg/kg of body weight, sometimes with an additional 20mg on top. Important to monitor this with testing every 3 months and try to find a practitioner who treats zinc and copper imbalances if you are able to. Always stop the zinc 4-5 days before blood test to avoid an artificial spike and also no high copper foods for a few days beforehand too.
I would assume this is factor in your skin issues and also sex drive. Zinc is incredibly important for a wide range of bodily functions. As is copper, but when the two are not balanced, many problems arise.
You can read some more about zinc and copper balance here: http://naturalinsight.hubpages.com/hub/Hypercupremia-High-Copper
Written by a highly experienced naturopath in Australia.
Your cortisol level doesn't look too good for a morning level - what time was that done? It is supposed to peak in the morning but it does fall away as the morning progresses.
Good luck! Allison
on July 03, 2013
at 12:48 PM
Well yo didn't provide the reference ranges from the tests yo got which means that for most people to answer this question they'll have to find the referece ranges on their own.
According to this source the reference range for copper is 1.6-2.4 umol/L, which would put your copper high outside the reference range by an order of magnitude, which does sound like it would be an issue. Does this sound right to you? Did the doctor say something to that effect or is the reference range I'm using off?
I found something else that says 10-22 umol/l is the reference range for serum copper, which sounds a little more reasonable. In that case, you still have high copper, but not off the charts high.