Zinc & Copper

Zinc & Copper

Lindsay Mustard
Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor

04 Nov 2019

Zinc & Copper

Balancing Zinc & Copper

You’ve likely heard the term, “yin and yang” before. Couples use the line in their wedding vows and others use it to craft yoga sequences and classes. In this case, we’re talking about the yin and yang of copper and zinc. The dynamic duo is a powerful micronutrient couple that is responsible for hundreds of enzymatic processes in our bodies. When we have balanced levels, these two are a powerhouse couple, but unpaired and properly monitored, its easy for our bodies to become deficient in zinc and/or copper.

What is Copper?

Copper plays an important role in our bodies. Between monitoring our nervous system to ensure that we are operating efficiently, to boosting our immune system and ensuring we are consistently creating new red blood cells, copper is a superhero in the eye of our bodies.

Our connective tissue (fascia and ligaments) is made primarily of collagen and elastin. This allows for them to be pliable, maintain an adequate balance of tension and elasticity which produces smooth movements at joints and when we are performing tasks involving many muscle groups. Copper is the mineral at work when it comes to maintaining the collagen and elastin levels in our skin - which make it easy to predict the outcomes of low copper levels: joint discomfort, increased risk of injury and dull, lackluster skin.

When copper isn’t doing our connective tissue wonders, it is maintaining our cardiac muscle, boosting our immune system and acting as an antioxidant to fight the damaging free radicals we are exposed to. It's incredible how many benefits one single micronutrient can offer, including its role as a cofactor in enzymes and other bodily functions that help to assist in increasing iron metabolism, antioxidant defense and neuropeptide synthesis (assists in interneuron communication).

Causes of Low Copper Levels:

There are a host of factors at play that could be contributing reasons for low Copper levels, however, these are the biggest driving reasons:

  • Increased intake of Zinc
  • Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Central Nervous System Damage
    • Demyelination, polyneuropathy, myelopathy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and inflammation)


  • Bone fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Loss of skin pigmentation and elasticity
  • Thyroid problems
  • Anemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Joint discomfort

What is Zinc?

Zinc, on the other hand, plays a significant role in our bodies by assisting with over 300 enzymatic reactions. It plays a roll in both cell division and growth, wound healing, nerve function, and digestion.

Zinc is also known for its role in gene expression and its ability to affect multiple signaling pathways on a molecular level. If that wasn’t enough, Zinc offers additional support to our immune system as it fights off invading bacteria and viruses and put the remaining active mineral to use and assists with making proteins, DNA and new genetic material for our cells.

Causes of Low Zinc Levels:

Similar to Copper, it is easy to become low in this micronutrient if an individual isn’t monitoring their dietary and supplementary intake. The most common causes of low zinc levels include reduced intake through food and high levels of copper.


  • Low energy
  • Brain fog or poor memory
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Skin rashes or eczema
  • Insomnia
  • Spots on fingernails
  • Impaired immune function
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Delayed wound healing

Recommend Intake for Zinc:

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 11 mg per day for adult males and 8 mg per day for adult females.

The Fine Art of Balancing Copper & Zinc Levels

Now that we know that zinc and copper are antagonists to each other, it is important to focus our attention on how we can ensure that we balanced levels for optimal health, immune and nervous system functions.

The two micronutrients compete for absorption in our intestines, which brings me to my first point - ensure that you have a thriving gut microbiome before you focus on balancing zinc and copper levels. Taking a probiotic ensures that you are replenishing lost bacteria in your small intestine when you experience times of stress and sickness. Priming your gut ensures that you can reap all the benefits that this dynamic duo has to offer when partnered properly.

A balanced Copper to Zinc ratio is between 0.7 to 1.0.

Food Sources of Zinc:

  • Oysters
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lentils

Food Sources of Copper:

  • Liver
  • Sesame seeds
  • Oysters
  • Cacao powder
  • Cashews
  • Lentils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Buckwheat

As you can see from the food lists above, there are many overlapping delicious options that offer an abundance of both minerals. Sesame seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and lentils offer a plethora of both micronutrients and ensure that your intake is balanced.

The other method of ensuring balanced zinc and copper levels is supplement with Pure Lab Vitamins Copper and Zinc Glycinate. Zinc is best absorbed 1-2 hours after a large meal, where Copper is best taken away from meals and other supplements.

Pure Lab Vitamins uses the glycinate form of each of these key minerals. This is the form that the body can easily absorb. In addition, Pure Lab uses a lower dose of each mineral to insure there is no toxicity or imbalance. You choose the dose that's right for your body.

Resource Links:

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Copper: The Confounding Variable in Iron-Deficiency Anemia?


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