Dr. Eric Osansky, Guest
Thyroid Nation

Copper Toxicity And Thyroid Health

Many people with thyroid conditions have a copper imbalance, which not only affects their thyroid health, but can also lead to numerous other health issues such as migraines, allergies, PMS, and depression. Some people with a thyroid condition are deficient in copper. This seems to be more common in people with hyperthyroid conditions, but can also occur with hypothyroid conditions as well.  On the other hand, some people have a copper toxicity issue.  In either case, it is important to try to determine whether someone has such an imbalance and correct this in order to restore one’s thyroid health.  In this article I’m going to specifically focus on how copper toxicity can affect thyroid health. The goal is to not only show you how copper toxicity can affect thyroid health, but to also show you how to determine whether you have a copper imbalance issue, and if so, what you can do to correct this problem.

But before I do this, I’d like to discuss some of the common causes of copper toxicity. After all, while it’s important to detect this problem and then have it corrected, once this is done you of course will want to do what is necessary to prevent this problem from occurring again. So let’s look at some of the more common causes of copper toxicity:

Copper Toxicity Cause #1:

Drinking Tap Water. Some water supplies contain high amounts of copper, as some water supplies have copper sulfate added. So this is yet another reason why you ideally want to drink purified water, and not drink unfiltered tap water.

Copper Toxicity Cause #2:

Water Pipes. Many homes contain copper plumbing, which means that the tap water, as well as the water you bathe and shower can contain high levels of copper.

Copper Toxicity Cause #3:

Birth Control Pills. Birth control pills don’t contain copper, but they can raise the copper levels in the body. Birth control also can lead to other health issues as well, so while it can be an effective contraceptive, there are potential health consequences.

Copper Toxicity Cause #4:

IUDs. Women who use an intra-uterine device with copper will most likely have higher copper levels that can become toxic.

Copper Toxicity Cause #5:

Adrenal Problems. Weak adrenal glands can also lead to copper toxicity. The reason for this is because healthy adrenals will produce a copper-binding protein, which declines when the adrenals are in a weakened or fatigued state. If this happens then the copper cannot bind and thus will accumulate in the tissues.

Copper Toxicity Cause #6:

Zinc Deficiency. Zinc is necessary to balance the levels of copper, and so a zinc deficiency can lead to excess copper levels.  And as you may have guessed, many people have a zinc deficiency.

How To Detect A Copper Toxicity

While blood tests can be a useful method of determining whether someone has a copper toxicity problem, I typically resort to a hair mineral analysis. There are a few reasons I prefer this test. One reason is because it’s pretty accurate. This isn’t to suggest that blood testing isn’t accurate, as this once again can also be used to detect a copper toxicity problem. But an advantage of the hair mineral analysis is that it detects the levels not only of copper, but of other minerals as well.This is important because the minerals interact with one another.  It’s also a relatively inexpensive test, and so for a small fee not only will this test tell you if you have a copper toxicity problem, but it will let you know if you have other toxicities, as well as any mineral deficiencies, and this test will also show the ratios of other important minerals in the body.

As I’ve mentioned in past articles, you do want to be careful about the lab you choose for a hair anaylsis. Not all of them are accurate, as some wash the hair multiple times before analyzing the hair sample, which will affect the results. I personally choose to use Analytical Research Labs, as they do a great job and I’ve been happy with them thus far.

How To Correct A Copper Toxicity Problem

There are a few different things you can do in order to correct a copper toxicity issue.  As mentioned before, you obviously will want to minimize your exposure to copper. So you will want to pay attention to the six different causes of copper toxicity I listed above, and do what is necessary to reduce your exposure to copper.

For example, if you have weak adrenal glands, which many people have, then you of course will want to restore your adrenal health back to normal. I’ve discussed this numerous times in other articles, as it takes a long period of time to develop adrenal problems. So if you have weak adrenal glands then you will want to address this problem to help with any existing copper toxicity problem. Since it takes awhile for adrenal problems to develop, it will also take some time to correct such problems. Similarly, if the copper toxicity problem is due to zinc deficiency, then the obvious goal is to correct this deficiency. Certain supplements may also be necessary to chelate copper from the body.


One important thing to keep in mind is that sometimes a copper toxicity problem isn’t easy to detect. In other words, some people have a “hidden” copper toxicity problem. For example, sometimes copper will show up low on a hair mineral analysis test, but this could indicate bio-unavailable copper. So you might actually have an excess of copper, but your body may not be able to properly utilize it. Because of this you can’t just rely on the copper levels alone, but you need to look at the other mineral levels and ratios, certain heavy metals such as mercury, and you also need to carefully look at the patient’s history to see if they have used a copper IUD and/or birth control pills.

In summary, copper toxicity is pretty common, but many people never get the appropriate testing done to detect this problem. If you suspect a copper toxicity problem, then a hair mineral analysis can detect this, and will also help to determine if you have other toxicities, as well as other mineral imbalances. Then once a copper toxicity problem is detected you can take the necessary steps to correct a problem which is an important part in achieving optimal thyroid health.

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About the Author

drericosanskyDr. Eric Osansky received a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. Dr. Osansky is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, which requires advanced-degree education qualifications, completing and passing an examination, and substantial nutrition experience. Although he’s not an herbalist, Dr. Osansky has received a certificate of herbal therapy through the Australian College of Phytotherapy. is a licensed healthcare professional who focuses his practice on conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease. For more information, please visit his Facebook page and website, NaturalEndocrineSolutions.com.

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 Questions or anything to add about copper toxicity and thyroid imbalances? We’d love your thoughts in the comments section!