Suffering From Hair Loss, Anemia and Thyroid Problems? Copper Deficiency Might Be the Reason

Suffering From Hair Loss, Anemia and Thyroid Problems? Copper Deficiency Might Be the Reason

Some minerals are abundant in our body, yet they cannot be produced by the body itself and has to be sourced from certain foods. One such essential mineral is copper which plays an important role in the maintenance of healthy metabolism.

Copper – What does it do?

Copper is the third most abundant mineral present in our body. It is necessary to carry out several enzymatic reactions and needed for the proper maintenance of the connective tissues. Since our body can only store copper in small amounts, it is needed frequently from various food sources.

There are several functions performed by copper in our body. They are briefly outlined below:

  1. Copper is needed for proper functioning of the brain. It impacts neurotransmitters such as dopamine and galactose which are needed to keep energy levels up and maintain happy mood.
  2. It plays a vital role in 50 different metabolic reactions that occur in our body everyday. These metabolic enzymatic reactions are necessary for proper functioning of various organs and nerve transmission.
  3. Copper keeps our nervous system healthy by protecting the myelin sheath (outside layer of nerves). It stimulates several thought processes in the nervous system and is involved in transporting certain proteins.
  4. Building and maintenance of skeletal structure requires an adequate amount of copper. The deficiency of this mineral can cause the bones to become brittle or underdeveloped. People low in copper can also experience weakness in joints and muscles.
  5. Copper works with other trace minerals such as calcium, potassium, and zinc, to maintain proper thyroid activity. As a result, you are saved from various thyroid problems.
  6. Iron and copper work in conjunction in the synthesis of hemoglobin and producing red blood cells. As per some studies, copper absorbs iron from the intestinal tract and helps it release into the liver. When there is deficiency in copper, iron levels also drops which can result in anemia.
  7. Copper is needed in adequate amounts to produce natural texture and pigment of the hair, skin and eyes. The copper is involved in the development of melanin, the pigment which gives brown colour to the skin as well unique colours to hair and eyes.

How much copper do we need on a daily basis?

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine suggests following daily dietary intake of copper based on the age. It is similar to what is recommended by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).


  • 0-6 months – 200 mcg/per day
  • 7-12 months - 220 mcg/day


  • 1-3 years - 340 mcg/day
  • 4-8 years - 440 mcg/day
  • 9-13 years - 700 mcg/day

Adolescents and adults

  • 14-18 years - 890 mcg/day
  • 19 years and above - 900 mcg/day

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

  • Pregnant women - 1,000 mcg/day
  • Lactating women - 1,300 mcg/day

Copper deficiency and overdose – What are the side effects?

It is believed that majority of the adult population in developed countries can obtain proper amount of copper from their diet. However, deficiency is more common in countries where malnourishment is widespread.


In medical terminology, copper deficiency is also known as hypocupremia. This can occur as a result of stomach surgery. The deficiency can also occur due to zinc supplementation because both these minerals compete each other for absorption in the stomach. Zinc usually has an upper edge; hence copper is not properly absorbed.

Typical symptoms of copper deficiency include weak bones, getting sick easily, poor growth, pale skin, skin sores, fatigue and easy bruising. Copper deficiency can also cause anemia and loss of body control and movements (ataxia).

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In some cases, an excess of copper can cause toxicity, a condition known as hypercupremia. Although, copper overdose is rare, it can occur due to certain conditions such as Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder which causes the body to accumulate too much copper.

Common symptoms related to copper overdose include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, stomach pain and metallic taste in the mouth. Serious copper overdose or toxicity can lead to heart problems,jaundice, and even death.

Copper rich food sources

Since copper is required frequently in our body for several metabolic functioning, we should focus on healthy balanced diet. There are several foods high in copper, the top 10 are mentioned below.

Beef (bade ka meat) liver

Apart from hoards of protein, beef ranks as incredibly highest among non-veg foods when it comes to offering copper content. The liver is also filled with vitamin and other essential minerals.

Dietary value – 100 grams of beef liver can supply 4490 mcg of copper. This is five times the daily requirement.

Cashew nut (Kaaju)

Crunchy nuts are always munchy and nutritious whenever you eat. Though almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts contain a decent amount of copper, cashew nuts have an upper edge in offering copper content.

Dietary value – 50 grams or 1/4 cup of cashew can give 1000 mcg of copper, way above the daily requirement of 900 mcg.

Dark chocolate

Yummy is the word that comes to mind when we hear of chocolates. If you are one of those who love eating chocolates, then you don’t have to worry about copper intake. Dark chocolates in particular, are known for lowering blood pressure.

Dietary intake – 100 grams of basic dark chocolate contains about 70 percent of cacao solids, which can give you 1248 mcg of copper.


Here is another reason for having almonds, the high amount of copper. Almonds are superfoods rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and contain a whole lot of other minerals. They are heart friendly as well as keep skin and hair healthy.

Dietary intake – 50 grams or ¼ cup of almonds contains 450 mcg of copper, half the total daily requirement.

Watermelon seeds (tarbooz ke beej)

Typically, almost all types of edible seeds are high in copper content. They are also rich in protein, zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin B & E.

Dietary value – 100 grams of watermelon seeds contains 700 mcg of copper, 77 percent of the total dietary value required daily.


A relishing and wonderful source of protein based on plant, soybeans are rich in copper as well. Moreover, they are rich in manganese which keeps your bones and heart healthy.

Dietary value – 100 grams of soybean contains 400 mcg of copper, 44 percent of the total daily recommended intake

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.Kidney beans (Rajma)

Staple food of millions of Indians, kidney beans are rich source of copper. They are a healthy option for pregnant women as they are filled with magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Dietary value – 100 grams of kidney beans provides 200 mcg of copper, this is 22 percent of the daily recommended intake.

Walnuts (akhrot)

Nuts have tons of goodness in them and walnuts are one such. They are known as healthy brain foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. And with lots of protein and copper, there is another reason to go for this crunchy nut.

Dietary value – 50 grams or 1/4 cup of walnuts will give you 950 mcg of copper, well over the daily recommended intake.


A rich source of calcium, blackberries mineral store include iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. They are also loaded with essential dietary fiber.

Dietary value – 100 grams of blackberries offer 200 mcg of copper, 22 percent of the total required dietary intake.


Besides a good source of getting copper, peanuts are rich in folate and have loads of phosphorus as well. Peanuts are also filled with sodium, vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium along with healthy dose of dietary fiber.

Dietary value – 100 grams of serving contains 700 mcg of copper, about 77 percent of the daily dietary requirement.

Copper deficiency can induce negative health effects, but it occurs rarely. All our nutritional needs should be met through healthy balanced diet. In case you are taking copper supplements, you must check with your doctor or dietician.


1. Kim BE(2008, March).Mechanisms for copper acquisition, distribution and regulation read more
2. Lazarchick J(2012, January).Update on anemia and neutropenia in copper deficiency read more
3. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc(2001). read more
4. Copper in diet(2017). MedlinePlus 
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