Copper Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Copper deficiency


The mineral copper plays a significant role in the physiological system of human beings. Copper helps to produce red blood cells (RBC) in the body and maintains healthy maintenance and activation of the immune system. It also helps with iron absorption in the body. Copper is essential for proper growth, functioning of the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and regulation of blood pressure. It promotes collagen production which is essential for bones and connective tissue. Copper helps in the formation of melanin which is essential to protect the color of the hair. Nowadays, fitness and wellness enthusiasts suggest drinking water from copper bottle as it aids in digestion and enhances the function of the immune system. 

The condition of copper deficiency in blood is known as hypocupremia. According to research, copper is interdependent on zinc and iron to maintain bodily processes and the immune system. The human body does not require much copper. Intake of copper in high quantities may lead to copper poisoning, resulting in fever, nausea, headache, stomach pain, diarrhea and anxiety. In case of copper deficiency, an adult above 19 years needs 0.9mg of copper daily in their diet. It also ensures the production of white blood cells which protects the body from foreign bacteria. 

Symptoms of Copper deficiency 

  • Low body temperature
  • Brittle bones
  • Frequently sick 
  • Easy bruising of the skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Paleness of skin
  • Inflammation of skin
  • Muscle sore
  • Poor growth
  • Premature hair greying

Symptoms of Copper deficiency based on its types

There are two types of copper deficiency, acquired and inherited. 

Acquired Copper deficiency 

  • As copper helps in the production of strong connective tissue, deficiency may result in brittle bones and cardiovascular abnormalities.
  • Copper is integral to the production of red blood cells (RBC). A low count of RBC leads to fatigue and pale skin and a low count of white blood cells (WBC) results in frequent infections. 
  • Copper plays a role in the formation of the myelin sheath which facilitates the nervous system. Inadequate copper in the body leads to numbness in the hand and feet. It further causes defects in the spinal cord.
  • Inherited Copper deficiency 

    Symptoms include tangled hair, difficulty in weight gain, weak muscles, delay in intellectual development, and seizures. It is quite rare and is found in males.

    Causes of Copper deficiency

    • Insufficient protein consumption during childhood
    • Excessive intake of zinc 
    • Persistent diarrhea during infancy
    • Nutrition gained through intravenous formula may not contain an adequate quantity of copper. 
    • Weight loss surgeries, cancer surgeries, or gastrectomy can disrupt the absorption of nutrients.

    How to include Copper in your diet?

    • Drinking water that is stored in a copper water bottle helps to fight against various bacteria, boosts overall health, and maintains the required amount of copper in the body.
    • Shellfishes like oysters, crab, lobster, and others
    • Organ meats like liver
    • Nuts and seeds such as cashew, pistachio, macadamia, almond, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.
    • Whole-grain foods
    • Dark chocolate
    • Legumes, beans, soybeans
    • Vegetables like spinach, potato, sweet potato, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
    • Fruits like avocado, bananas, grapes, pomegranate, mango, pineapple, blackberries, kiwi, and guavas

    Complications of Copper deficiency 


    The most common condition resulting due to copper deficiency is anemia, which results in a low count of red blood cells (RBC). This influences the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues and organs.


    It affects the nervous system which leads to losing control over body movements.


    This condition prevails when the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelet count are low altogether. 

    Treatment of Copper deficiency

    Copper deficiency is more common than excess copper in the body. To take care of this condition, some of the most common treatments include the intake of food that is rich in copper. A proper amount of copper intake must be ensured. The balance between zinc and copper is important to prevent other health problems. Intake of zinc supplements should be decreased. Various copper supplements are prescribed by the doctor to overcome this condition. Lastly, in case an individual has limited capacity to absorb copper, intravenous copper treatments are also available. One may immediately consult a doctor in case of health deterioration.