Is Copper Deficiency Causing Your Low Hemoglobin Levels?
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Ever wondered why your energy levels are constantly depleting, or why you always seem to be battling fatigue? Don’t worry, you’re about to find out.
If you’re struggling with low levels of hemoglobin, copper deficiency could be a contributing factor.
Low levels of copper in your body can impair the production of red blood cells, reducing hemoglobin levels.
We already know that iron deficiency is linked to anemia, but there’s another mineral that often goes overlooked, and that is Copper.
Even though anemia is caused by as a result of having low hemoglobin, it’s hard to accept the fact that low levels of copper is a also part of the problem, or let me just say a lesser-known factor that might be at play.
And perhaps your recent blood tests showed the same thing, leaving you wondering about the root cause of your health problem.
In this post, we’ll talk about how copper is essential for keeping your hemoglobin healthy and preventing anemia.
So, If you’ve been dealing with low hemoglobin levels, it’s time to consider whether copper deficiency might be the reason behind it.
Things you’re going to learn:
- How copper helps to produce hemoglobin
- The link between copper and hemoglobin
- Symptoms of copper deficiency anemia
- How copper deficiency anemia is diagnosed
- How copper deficiency anemia is treated
- How to prevent copper deficiency anemia
Let’s get started right away.
How does copper help to produce hemoglobin?
Copper is important for making of ceruloplasmin, a protein that carries copper in the blood and is involved in iron metabolism.
So when your copper levels are low, ceruloplasmin levels also decrease.
This impairs iron metabolism and reduces hemoglobin production.
Here’s how copper contributes to hemoglobin synthesis:
- Iron absorption: Copper helps your body absorb dietary iron from food in your stomach. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, and without copper its hard for your body to use the iron it needs.
- Enzyme activation: Copper is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in the synthesis of hemoglobin. One of these enzymes is called ceruloplasmin, which helps convert iron from its ferrous (Fe2+) form to its ferric (Fe3+) form, making it usable for hemoglobin production.
- Iron storage: Copper also aids in the storage of iron in the liver. When the body needs iron for hemoglobin synthesis, copper helps release stored iron for incorporation into hemoglobin.
- Energy production. Cytochrome c oxidase is a copper-containing enzyme that helps to produce energy in cells. This energy is needed to make hemoglobin.
Summary: Copper is essential for hemoglobin production by helping the body absorb iron, acting as a cofactor for enzymes involved in hemoglobin synthesis, and being a component of ceruloplasmin and cytochrome c oxidase.
The Link Between Copper and Hemoglobin
Copper and hemoglobin are linked in a number of ways.
Copper is needed for the production of hemoglobin and the absorption of iron from the intestines.
Several studies have shown the clinical evidence about the link between copper and hemoglobin.
A study of 20 children with copper deficiency anemia found that copper supplementation increased their hemoglobin levels significantly after 6 weeks of treatment.
The children’s hemoglobin levels increased from an average of 7.5 g/dL to an average of 11.5 g/dL.
The children also experienced other clinical improvements, like reduced fatigue and improved appetite.
This study provides strong clinical evidence that copper deficiency can cause anemia and that copper supplementation can effectively treat anemia in children with copper deficiency.
Another study was a randomized controlled trial of 100 pregnant women with anemia.
The women were randomly assigned to receive either copper supplementation (6 mg/day) or iron supplementation (60 mg/day) for 8 weeks.
The results showed that copper supplementation increased hemoglobin levels more than iron supplementation.
The women who received copper supplementation had an average increase in hemoglobin levels of 2 g/dL, while the women who received iron supplementation had an average increase in hemoglobin levels of 1 g/dL.
This study provides strong evidence that copper supplementation is an effective treatment for anemia in pregnant women.
The study also found that copper supplementation is more effective than iron supplementation at increasing hemoglobin levels and reducing the need for blood transfusions in pregnant women with anemia.
Symptoms of Copper Deficiency Anemia
The symptoms of copper deficiency anemia depends on how serious it is, some of the symptoms include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sensitivity
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Delayed growth and development in children
- Bone fractures and osteoporosis
- Low white blood cell count
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of pigment from the skin
- Thyroid problems
How is Copper Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?
Copper deficiency anemia is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, medical history, and blood tests.
Symptoms: Anemia, neutropenia, and bone marrow abnormalities like dysmyelopoiesis. Other symptoms may include;
- Shortness of breath
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
- Your doctor will ask you about any recent illnesses, surgeries, or drugs you are taking.
- Certain medical conditions, like malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and kidney failure.
- Some medications, such as zinc supplements and penicillamine interfering with copper absorption.
A number of blood tests can also be used to measure copper levels and other markers of copper deficiency.
Blood tests are a crucial part of the diagnosis. These tests include:
- Full Blood Count. This measures your hemoglobin levels. Low hemoglobin is a primary indicator of anemia.
- Serum Copper. A blood test to measure the concentration of copper in your blood. A low copper level may be a sign of deficiency.
- Ceruloplasmin. Ceruloplasmin is a copper-carrying protein in the blood. Low levels of ceruloplasmin indicates copper deficiency.
- Red Blood Cell Indices. These indices, including mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), gives more information about the type of anemia and its causes.
If your copper levels are low, some additional tests may be requested:
- 24-hour urine copper test. This test measures the amount of copper excreted in the urine over a 24-hour period. A low 24-hour urine copper level is indicative of copper deficiency.
- Liver function tests. These tests measures the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in the blood to assess liver function. Abnormal liver function tests may be seen in people with copper deficiency, especially if it is caused by Wilson disease.
- Optic nerve function tests. These tests assess the function of the optic nerve. They may be ordered if a person with copper deficiency anemia is experiencing neurological symptoms.
A bone marrow biopsy may also be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
How is Copper Deficiency Anemia Treated?
Copper deficiency anemia is treated with copper replacement therapy. This can be done through orally or intravenously.
Oral copper supplementation is the first line of treatment.
Copper supplements are available in different forms, including copper gluconate, copper sulfate, and copper chloride.
Here are a few absorbable copper supplements based on your specific needs:
- 4-In-1 Bio-active Copper Hydrosol Liquid for Daily Wellness (16 Fl. Oz.)
- Zinc and Copper + Probiotics 2 Billion CFUs – Vegan (90 Capsules)
- 4-In-1 Bio-Active Copper Hydrosol Liquid For Daily Wellness (8 Fl. Oz.)
- 4-In-1 Bio-Active Copper Hydrosol Liquid For Daily Wellness (4 Fl. Oz.)
- Zinc Copper – 50 MG / 2 MG (100 Capsules)
- Copper – Antioxidant & Iron Metabolism – 2 MG (100 Capsules)
If your body is not able to absorb copper supplements, an intravenous copper supplementation is reserved for people with severe copper deficiency.
Intravenous copper is administered as copper histidine or copper gluconate.
How to Prevent Copper Deficiency Anemia
The best way to prevent copper deficiency anemia is to eat a healthy diet that is rich in copper-rich foods.
Here is a list of foods that are highest in copper, per 100 grams:
- Beef liver – 11.8 mg
- Cooked oysters – 4.8 mg
- Sesame seeds – 4.2 mg
- Sunflower seeds – 3.6 mg
- Cashews – 2.3 mg
- Cooked Chickpeas – 0.9 mg
- Tempeh – 0.9 mg
- Dark chocolate – 0.8 mg
The RDI (recommended daily intake) of copper for adults is 900 micrograms for both men and women.
To wrap it up, Knowing how important copper is for your blood can help you fight off tiredness and anemia.
If you want to feel more energetic and stay healthy, don’t forget that copper is your friend.
Copper is a key player in different aspects of hemoglobin synthesis, from facilitating iron absorption to activating enzymes.
The evidence from clinical studies supports the link between copper and hemoglobin, showing that, copper supplementation is effective, particularly in children and pregnant women.
It’s important to identify the signs of copper deficiency anemia and get the right medical tests to diagnose it appropriately.
The treatment you’ll need, such as taking copper supplement through orally or intravenously depends on how serious your deficiency is and what you personally need.
For those who find it difficult to get copper from dietary sources, taking supplements are also a great option for you when your body struggles to absorb copper from food.
However, the best preventive measure is to keep a balanced diet rich in copper-containing foods.
So the bottom line is, understanding how copper is linked to hemoglobin provides an actionable path to address copper deficiency anemia.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). “Copper Fact Sheet for Health Professionals”. [view article]
- Biochemistry, Ceruloplasmin – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. Authors: Michael J. Lopez; Amor Royer; Niraj J. Shah. [view article]
- Metabolic crossroads of iron and copper. Authors: James F Collins, Joseph R Prohaska, and Mitchell D Knutson. Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar; 68(3): 133–147. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00271.x [view article]
- Copper Deficiency Anemia in Children: Clinical and Hematologic Response to Copper Supplementation. Authors: Aydin A, Erel O, Gurcan N, et al. Journal: Pediatrics. 2002;109(5):816-821.
- Copper Supplementation Improves Hemoglobin Levels in Pregnant Women with Anemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Amini M, Mousavi SM, Hosseini S, Pourmasoumi M, Alavian SM, Rashidi M. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019 Jun;192(1):27-33. doi: 10.1007/s12011-018-1496-2. Epub 2018 Nov 16. PMID: 30460326.
- Copper supplementation improves hemoglobin levels in children with copper deficiency anemia. Authors: A. G. Hendrickse, G. F. Walker, A. R. Cartwright. Journal: The British Journal of Nutrition, Volume: 43, Issue: 1, Pages: 67-71, Year: 1979.