What is it?

Copper deficiency, is defined either as insufficient copper to meet the needs of the body, or as a serum copper level below the normal range.

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Copper Deficiency.

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Hypocupremia

Signs & symptoms

Copper deficiency can be hard for doctors to diagnose because the symptoms are like many other conditions. For example, the symptoms associated with copper deficiency are similar to those of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Low copper levels can affect a person’s immune system and energy levels. Examples include:
* always feeling cold
* easy bone breakage
* easy bruising
* fatigue
* getting sick easily or frequently
* pale skin
* poor growth
* skin inflammation
* skin sores
* unexplained muscle soreness
* Very low copper levels can cause problems with muscle movement as well.


To diagnose copper deficiency, a doctor takes a health history and asks what kinds of medications and supplements you’re taking. They consider your symptoms when evaluating you for a copper deficiency. They may consider if you have risk factors. These include:
* excess zinc supplementation
* history of bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass
* history of gastrectomy (surgical removal of a part or all of the stomach)
* history of upper gastrointestinal surgery
* malabsorption syndrome, such as celiac or inflammatory bowel disease, where a person may not fully absorb all the nutrients in their food

A doctor may also order a blood test for plasma copper levels to determine if your blood copper levels are low. This test isn’t a definitive diagnostic test for copper deficiency because other factors can falsely elevate a person’s blood copper levels. Doctors usually consider copper levels to be severely deficient if they’re less than 30 percent of the expected normal range.


Initial treatment of copper deficiency may depend on why your copper levels are low in the first place. For example, if you’re taking too much zinc, you may just need to cut down on zinc supplements.
Doctors often recommend a copper supplement as adequate treatment. Copper supplements on the market include copper gluconate, copper sulfate, and copper chloride.
Taking about 2 milligrams (mg) of copper per day may help to correct a deficiency, but your doctor will let you know the right dosage for you. Increasing your intake of copper-rich foods may also help.
If your deficiency is severe and your doctor is concerned that your body won’t absorb copper supplements, they may prescribe intravenous (IV) copper treatments.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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