It is possible for a person to become copper-toxic, copper-deficient or to have a condition called biounavailable copper. The first two of these are fairly easy to understand. Copper is found in certain foods in greater quantity such as meats, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds and grains. Other foods are quite low in copper such as fruits, in particular. Others that tend to be low are vegetables and some nuts and grains.
Refined food diets are low in copper in many cases. Also, some, especially children, need much more copper than others. This has to do mainly with their metabolic type or body chemistry. Fast oxidizers need more copper while slow oxidizers often have too much. Those who we find are fast oxidizers require a lot more copper. This is a technical area, but it is an observation that holds true in most all cases.
Slow oxidizers often have excessive copper in their bodies. Thus they are far more prone to copper imbalance of this nature. To read more about this technical aspect of copper that is very important for practitioners, read Fast, Slow and Mixed Oxidation on this website.

What is biounavailable copper? In this very common situation, copper is present in excess in the body, but it cannot be utilized well. The reason it occurs is that minerals such as copper must be bound and transported within the body.
Biounavailability often occurs due to a deficiency of the copper-binding proteins, ceruloplasmin or metallothionein. Without sufficient binding proteins, unbound copper may circulate freely in the body, where it may accumulate primarily in the liver, brain and female organs.
When copper is biounavailable, one may have symptoms of both copper toxicity and copper deficiency. Copper toxicity and biounavailability are seen most often. These occur almost always in people who are in the state called slow oxidation. As stated earlier, copper deficiency occurs most often in people who are in the state called fast oxidation. This article uses the words copper imbalance when more than one of the three types of copper problems are possible.


Each mineral has “target organs” where it tends to build up. The places where copper accumulates are the liver first, then the brain and the reproductive organs. Copper may affect any organ or system of the body. However, it usually affects about four or five major systems of the body. These are the nervous system, the female and male reproductive system, connective tissues such as hair, skin and nails and organs like the liver. Let us discuss each of these in detail.


Dr. Paul Eck called copper the “emotional mineral”. The reason for this is that copper and imbalances related to it have such a profound impact on the central nervous system. The psychiatric implications of copper imbalance are tremendous, even if copper did not affect other body systems. We regularly work with every known psychological and psychiatric condition and most of these individuals improve when copper is balanced in the body.
The overall effect of copper appears to be to enhance all emotional states in a human being. Dr. Eck felt that copper stimulates the diencephalons or old brain. Zinc is needed for the new brain or cortex. This brain is associated with the “higher emotions” such as reasoning, compassion and love.
When an imbalance between these exists, the person tends to revert to the use of the old brain, also called the animal brain or emotional brain. This can lead to a tendency for every possible emotional condition affecting human beings.
Nervous system dysfunctions. We have seen improvement in 20 or 30 different mental and emotional conditions ranging from moderate to suicidal depression and anxiety to violence, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, phobias, Tourette’s syndrome and schizophrenia. Others that respond amazingly well to balancing copper include epilepsy, ADD, ADHD, autism, delayed mental or emotional development and many others.
Panic attacks, migraines, spaciness, brain fog, mind racing, insomnia, nervousness, irritability and others also often involve copper. On this website are numerous articles that explore these conditions and often the relation to copper in greater detail.
Copper and world violence. Copper tends to enhance all the emotions, so violence can occur far more in those with copper excess – a common problem today in many parts of the world.
America is actually better in this regard because we can afford more beef and other meats. These foods are among the highest foods in zinc that balances copper in the body. Nations that cannot afford much meat may have worse copper imbalance, though this is not necessarily the case.


One of the most common symptoms of biounavailabe copper or a frank copper deficiency is an anemia that appears identical to iron deficiency anemia. Those most affected are young adult women, and sometimes children. Vegetarians also tend to have too much and biounavailable copper and may be affected.
Signs. It is usually a mild, microcytic, microchromic anemia on blood exams.
Mechanism. Copper is required to change the form of iron from ferric to ferrous and back again, and is required to incorporate iron into hemoglobin. When copper is not available in sufficient amounts, usually due to adrenal insufficiency, iron is not incorporated into the hemoglobin well enough, resulting in a mild anemia.
Correction. Few doctors are aware of this cause for anemia. As a result, most physicians make the mistake of giving supplemental iron for this condition, which may work a little, but makes the patient much worse in terms of overall health. Iron can boost the adrenals and make copper a little more available, reducing the anemia. However, iron is irritating to the intestines and iron overload is very common today. For more on this, read Chronic Acquired Iron Overload on this website.
The correct treatment is to balance copper metabolism, which requires a hair mineral analysis in most cases and a complete nutritional balancing program. Then the anemia goes away by itself.


Infections, especially sinus and other fungal infections. Copper imbalance is also very much related to all fungal infections, in particular. These often include common sinus conditions that give few symptoms such as a stuffy nose or post-nasal drip in millions of people. Copper is also involved in acute and chronic candida albicans in the intestines and elsewhere.
Copper is critical for aerobic metabolism, so a copper imbalances allows fungal organisms to thrive in the body and must be corrected to reduce these infections, in most cases. This is why some people simply cannot get rid of candida albicans or chronic yeast, parasitic infections, sinus infections and others.
Copper is also linked to many other types of infections because zinc is needed for the proper immune response. Elevated or biounavailable copper often goes along with a low tissue zinc level, even though blood tests may be normal. Even a hair analysis is often normal.
One must always look for hidden copper signs on the hair mineral analysis for this reason. This is a great key to identifying copper imbalance today, as there are few other tests that may show evidence of it.


Our bodies use copper to help control the growth of yeast. This may be because copper favors aerobic metabolism, the type of cellular metabolism that human beings should have. More specifically, copper, along with iron, is required for the electron transport system, where most of our cellular energy is produced.
In contrast, yeasts and fungi are anaerobic. This means they ferment sugars for their energy production. Thus, when copper is not available to the body in sufficient quantity, aerobic or normal oxygen-using metabolism is crippled to some degree, while anaerobic metabolism or the fermentation of sugars flourishes in such an environment.
For this reason, for example, copper sulfate is often sprayed on crops to kill yeast and fungus. Copper is also used in some swimming pools and hot tubs to control yeast and bacterial growth.