The Symptoms of Copper Deficiency You Must Watch out For

Health isn’t the first thing that usually comes to mind when you hear the word ‘copper’. So, it may shock you to find out that the mineral is actually one of the essential trace nutrients you need to function normally. Insufficient intake of copper can cause you to become deficient. And, as far as the symptoms of copper deficiency are concerned, it’s no vacation.

Copper is involved in numerous processes in the body, which makes its presence integral to human health. If you find that you’re suffering from the symptoms presented below, then it’s time to consult your doctor.



Copper deficiency has several possible causes, ranging from gastric bypass surgery to malabsorption disorders. It can also be the result of zinc toxicity or poor diet. Since copper plays many roles within the human body, not having enough of it can have adverse effects.

Good sources of copper include shellfish, organ meats, beans, nuts, whole grains, cocoa and black pepper. You can also find it in potatoes, as well as dark, leafy greens. Males aged 40 and up have a recommended dietary intake of 1.7mg of copper per day, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.


You might think that calcium is the only mineral that promotes bone health — you’re wrong. Copper deficiency has been associated with osteoporosis, as pointed out by a study published in the Biological Trace Element Research. Older people have more to worry about when it comes to this, as bones deteriorate with age. And when your bones are weak or brittle, they become prone to fractures.


One of the symptoms of copper deficiency is an issue with mobility and coordination. A common manifestation of this is difficulty walking or poor balance, as one study published in the British Medical Journal indicates. This is due to the role copper plays in maintaining the spinal cord. The condition, otherwise known as myelopathy, is known to be linked to low levels of copper within the body.


Extreme tiredness can be a sign of many other conditions, but that doesn’t mean you can rule out copper deficiency at once. The essential mineral allows the body to absorb iron, another important element of human health. An iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, which in turn drains you of energy, making you feel fatigued.

Thankfully, this symptom may be reversed by consuming a diet rich in copper. This much was concluded in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.


Premature greying of hair — that doesn’t run in the family — can be a cause for alarm. Melanin, the pigment that gives your hair colour, can be impacted by low copper levels. Research has shown that copper deficiency can cause the untimely greying of hair. One such research has been published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology.

It’s plain to see that copper is undoubtedly a vital part of health and wellness. Maintaining a well-balanced diet can help ensure that you meet all your nutritional needs, including copper. However, that isn’t to say that you must turn to supplements. In fact, taking too much copper can also be detrimental to your health.


Copper is required for the normal functioning of your nervous system. Without it, your nerves can become impaired. One of the symptoms of copper deficiency is optic neuropathy, a neurological problem characterised by damage to the optic nerve. This can lead to the inability to see colour or even loss of vision.

It isn’t definitively known whether vision loss due to copper deficiency can be reversed. However, the results of some studies — such as one published in Retinal Cases & Brief Reports and another in Archives of Neurology — suggest that the condition can’t be improved upon increased consumption of copper.


Copper deficiency is a possible cause of skin becoming paler than normal. As with premature greying of hair, this has to do with insufficient copper affecting melanin production. For those who are unaware, melanin is the pigment that gives colour to your skin and hair. The lesser the melanin, the lighter the skin.


Cold intolerance can be the result of a number of things, including little body fat and certain health conditions. However, it may also be a sign of copper deficiency.

Copper plays a significant role in thyroid gland function. Given that the thyroid gland is involved in heat production, it makes sense to have an increased sensitivity to cooler temperatures when your copper levels are low.


If you often get sick, then it’s time to consult with your doctor. Frequent sickness is a telltale sign that your immune system isn’t in tip-top shape, and this may be because of inadequate copper intake. The essential mineral helps maintain your first line of defence against disease, so lack of copper can markedly decrease the immune cells in your body.

All things considered, there’s no denying that humans can’t survive without copper. Luckily, you don’t have to consume it in bucketfuls. By simply maintaining a well-balanced diet, you can prevent and combat the symptoms of copper deficiency. After all, let’s face it — these symptoms are quite serious.


Anthony Hill

When you put together the sum total of my 30 years of bodybuilding training, the contests, the vast array of diets I have experimented (tortured) myself with as well as the experiences I have been through with various training partners in the gyms I have trained in all over the world, it’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do lots of personal training for private clients alongside my day job. For a few years during my 30’s, I moved to Asia and worked as the Fitness Manager and head personal trainer at one of Thailand’s leading gyms in Bangkok. Learn More

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