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Zinc, Copper, and Hyperthyroidism

When dealing with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, there are many different factors one needs to look at. This includes the adrenal glands, immune system, imbalances of the sex hormones, digestive issues, as well as certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Two of the most important minerals one needs to look at when dealing with any hyperthyroid condition are zinc and copper.

With regards to zinc, this mineral has many different functions. It is involved in many different enzyme reactions in the body, is involved in protein synthesis, immunity and digestion, and it has other important functions.

Copper also has many different functions, as it also is inolved in immunity, as well as the nervous system, reproductive system, and other bodily systems. The thyroid gland is very sensitive to copper, and many people with thyroid conditions have a copper imbalance, and as a result, copper is one of the most important minerals to evaluate in anyone with any type of thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, but especially hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease.

Do You Have Too Much Zinc?

Some sources claim that most people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease have too much zinc. I have not seen this pattern, and as I frequently say, everyone needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. In other words, one just can’t assume that everyone with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease has an excess in zinc and a copper deficiency, or vice versa. This is why it’s important for people to obtain additional testing. In the case of zinc and copper, one can’t rely on the blood levels of these minerals alone, which is why you need to look into other areas, such as a hair mineral analysis. However, when looking at such a test one needs to do more than just look at the zinc levels, as other minerals need to be evaluated as well, such as sodium and potassium.

The same concept applies to copper, as you can’t assume that everyone with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ has a copper deficiency, although some sources make this assumption. Some people with a hyperthyroid condition are deficient in this mineral, but it’s also not uncommon for someone to have a copper toxicity problem. And you can’t always tell just by looking at the copper levels on a hair mineral analysis. The reason for this is because copper can be biounavailable, which means that it might show up on a hair mineral analysis as being low, but the problem is that the body is unable to utilize it properly.

As I mentioned earlier, these two minerals interact with one another. So if someone has a zinc deficiency, typically there will be an excess of copper.  And I commonly see people with low zinc levels more than I see low copper levels.  In fact, most people seem to be deficient in zinc, which based on what I stated in this article would suggest that most people have too much copper.  However, as I mentioned earlier, one can’t just look at the zinc and copper levels alone, as one needs to look at other factors.  For example, problems with the adrenal glands can cause a copper imbalance.  And of course many people have weak adrenal glands.  The hair mineral analysis can give an idea as to how the adrenal glands are functioning, but one might want to go a step further and do some separate adrenal testing.

Using The Hair Mineral Analysis To Detect An Imbalance In Zinc and Copper

Dr. Larry Wilson is a medical doctor who focuses on nutritional balancing.  He has a very interesting website, consisting of dozens of articles, one which focuses on copper toxicity.  While it is usually fairly easy to determine if someone has a zinc deficiency on a hair mineral analysis, it is more challenging to determine if someone has a copper imbalance.  In his article he lists some of the different factors one needs to look at to help determine if someone has high copper levels.  Some of the indicators include high calcium and magnesium levels on the hair mineral analysis, and/or low potassium levels.  But in addition to the low zinc levels, one of the main indicators of a copper imbalance is high mercury levels.

But how does one develop a copper toxicity problem?  Well, a deficiency in zinc and/or weak adrenals can contribute to this problem.  And of course being exposed to copper can cause or contribute to this problem as well.  While copper pipes don’t seem to be contributing much to this problem, having a copper IUD, frequently going in swimming pools, and/or eating copper rich foods on a regular basis can contribute to this condition.

Many people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, as well as those with other conditions, are guilty of randomly taking vitamins and minerals based on what they read in a book and/or on the internet.  But the best approach is to get tested, and if one happens to be deficient in copper, then a copper supplement might be needed, along with eating foods such as avocados and nuts which are rich in copper.  If someone is deficient in zinc, then they might need to supplement with this mineral, and also eat foods rich in zinc.  It’s important to understand that while the RDA for zinc is 15 milligrams, this usually won’t be enough to correct a zinc deficiency.  In fact, depending on how severe the deficiency is someone might need to take two to three times the RDA of zinc.  And the same concept applies to other mineral deficiencies as well.

In summary, an imbalance in zinc and copper can cause or contribute to a hyperthyroid condition.  And while supplementation might be necessary to correct the mineral deficiency, sometimes other factors are causing or contributing to the problem, such as weak adrenals, toxic metals, etc.  Plus, remember that the minerals are interactive, so an imbalance in one or more of the other minerals can also affect the minerals zinc and copper, and thus affect one’s thyroid health.

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