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Help Me Understamd My Blood Test Results (Acne, Sex Drive Problems)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 03, 2013 at 12:28 PM

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.

My results:

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?

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on August 16, 2013
at 12:24 AM

It's the ratio between the zinc and copper that matters much more than the individual levels.

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 09, 2013
at 02:48 AM

...cortisol. Hope that helps!

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 09, 2013
at 02:47 AM

Hi Hannah Try the link again, it is definitely working for me. As for long term zinc supplementation, that is why the regular monitoring is important so that you don't end up with low copper due to the zinc supplementation. As I have pyroluria, I need higher doses of zinc than the RDI and my doctor monitors it. It is a lifelong condition, so I will be taking zinc picolinate for life. I just don't retain it as a "normal" person would, regardless of diet. As for the cortisol, you'd be best to get the test re-done at 8am and also with ACTH (the pituitary hormone that directs the adrenals to make

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 04, 2013
at 05:52 PM

Cortisol levels were tested around 10:00, on a fasting stomach. I'd probably been awake and about for three hours. In your opinion, what's the next step to investigating whether I have cortisol issues?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 04, 2013
at 05:49 PM

Thanks very much for this information, Allison. The link you posted isn't working for me. What does your doctor say about long term use of zinc supplementation - is it healthy and realistic to be on these pills for life? I wish there was such a specialist in my area but no such luck (I'm in Sub-Saharan Africa, yo!).

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 03, 2013
at 03:11 PM

Get a stool sample for dysbiosis. That will make things more understandable for you.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 03, 2013
at 01:06 PM

Thanks for your feedback. I've included the ranges. I didn't speak to a doctor about these tests because I didn't want to pay the extra cost of a consultation.

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2 Answers

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957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 04, 2013
at 06:04 AM

Hi Hannah,

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

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 04, 2013
at 05:52 PM

Cortisol levels were tested around 10:00, on a fasting stomach. I'd probably been awake and about for three hours. In your opinion, what's the next step to investigating whether I have cortisol issues?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 04, 2013
at 05:49 PM

Thanks very much for this information, Allison. The link you posted isn't working for me. What does your doctor say about long term use of zinc supplementation - is it healthy and realistic to be on these pills for life? I wish there was such a specialist in my area but no such luck (I'm in Sub-Saharan Africa, yo!).

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 09, 2013
at 02:47 AM

Hi Hannah Try the link again, it is definitely working for me. As for long term zinc supplementation, that is why the regular monitoring is important so that you don't end up with low copper due to the zinc supplementation. As I have pyroluria, I need higher doses of zinc than the RDI and my doctor monitors it. It is a lifelong condition, so I will be taking zinc picolinate for life. I just don't retain it as a "normal" person would, regardless of diet. As for the cortisol, you'd be best to get the test re-done at 8am and also with ACTH (the pituitary hormone that directs the adrenals to make

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 09, 2013
at 02:48 AM

...cortisol. Hope that helps!

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

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.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on July 03, 2013
at 01:06 PM

Thanks for your feedback. I've included the ranges. I didn't speak to a doctor about these tests because I didn't want to pay the extra cost of a consultation.

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on August 16, 2013
at 12:24 AM

It's the ratio between the zinc and copper that matters much more than the individual levels.

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