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A vitamin or mineral imbalance, such as a copper-zinc imbalance, can cause side effects that resemble malabsorption, a condition where damage to the gut prevents absorption of vitamins and minerals. In the case of a vitamin or mineral imbalance, however, the condition of the gut may be completely normal. The problem arises when a vitamin or mineral is extremely out-of-balance with others, causing deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals because your body requires them in higher amounts to compete with the vitamin or mineral being consumed in excess. The imbalance could be mistaken for absorption problems.

I had always wondered if my iron deficiency was a result of celiac disease. However, when my problems with iron intensified last year, I had no idea what could be causing them. I had come a long way in dealing with allergen exposure issues. If anything, my uptake of iron and other vitamins and minerals should have been improving. I was really confused. I wondered if my IgA deficiency might have been causing the issues since I could not come up with any other possibility. I found out over time that I could not get by on my twice-a-day regimen and was even having problems adding iron on top of that. It seemed no matter what I tried, I could not keep up my iron.

When I discovered my copper toxicity and began changing my diet to bring copper and zinc into balance, I felt wonderful. I no longer needed an extra iron supplement with my regimen. It was great to have discovered the cause of my issues with iron. I thought that things would go smoothly from there on out. It turned out I was wrong. While I felt fine in the beginning, I started feeling more fatigued. I’d get extremely sleepy during the day. I began to get severe cystic acne down the sides of my face and on my neck. In my investigation of the causes, I discovered that my vitamin and supplement regimen was at least part of the problem. Bringing copper and zinc into balance in my diet allowed my body to sustain itself on my diet, without the need for all of the supplements I was using. The severe acne I was experiencing was telling me that my supplement regimen was now way too much, way more than my body needed.

Over time, I eliminated all my supplements except for my omega supplement and my probiotic. At first, I just stopped my multivitamin, the calcium, and the magnesium. I wanted to make sure that neither my cod liver oil capsule nor my omega capsule had gone rancid, causing symptoms. I felt fine for about a week taking the remaining supplements, but I realized I needed to try eliminating the cod liver oil as well. I suspected that the vitamin A in

My current regimen

this supplement might have been causing issues. I was now down to just my omega supplement and my probiotic. I took these once a day. Several days later, I realized I needed vitamin D as well. I decided to try adding a supplement with an amount low enough where I could easily balance it through diet, 400 IU. I’m currently taking the vitamin D supplement, the omega supplement, and the probiotic once a day. It’s possible that I may need to add other supplements in the future, but this regimen seems to suffice for now.

I’m absolutely amazed at the impact that changing the balance of copper and zinc in my diet has had on my need for supplements and on my uptake of vitamins and minerals. My plan was to continue taking supplements as nutritional insurance, to make sure I didn’t become deficient in anything. However, considering that copper and zinc were so out-of-balance in my diet previously, even the supplements did not, in the end, provide sufficient protection from resulting deficiencies. I was, however, afraid of stopping my supplements, but I knew I could not continue on the regimen that had sustained me for years. It’s been hard trying to figure out what regimen will actually work with my new diet, but I believe I’m getting closer. I’ve been a user of multivitamins all my life, and my current regimen is such a huge departure from what I’ve been accustomed to doing. I’m still afraid of developing deficiencies. I know that over time, I’m just going to have to listen to my body and then determine from my diet and lifestyle what might be lacking and then figure out how to make up for it, either through diet or supplementation. Of course, when needed, I plan to consult with my doctor about testing to determine what I actually need to get more of through diet or supplementation.

If you are having problems getting enough vitamins and minerals through diet and/or supplements, and you’ve determined that you have no intestinal damage or other gut problems that can cause absorption issues, you may want to consider a vitamin and/or mineral imbalance. Your diet or excess supplementation can cause an imbalance and a deficiency in vitamins and minerals that compete with what is being consumed in excess. For me, the imbalance was between copper and zinc, and a multivitamin with a high zinc-to-copper ratio allowed me to make this discovery. A doctor or nutritionist may be able to assist you with determining the source of the imbalance and what you need to do to correct it. You may also find that you no longer need massive supplementation once the underlying imbalance has been corrected.

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4 Thoughts on “Copper Toxicity Can Masquerade as Malabsorption

  1. I am finding these posts fascinating. I never realized how much one group of vitamins/minerals can affect others.

    • retrogirl77 on March 12, 2017 at 1:17 am said:

      I know, and I find it interesting how some can take megadoses of supplements and not have negative effects. I seem to struggle hard with just seemingly slight imbalances.

  2. Veronica on April 23, 2017 at 11:46 pm said:

    I am enjoying your posts on your journey to balance and wellness. I think that our bodies consistently “tell us” what they need, we just have to be in tune with it. You seem to be adept at hearing and understanding. That, I believe, is a key to longevity. Hearing, understanding and providing. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • retrogirl77 on April 24, 2017 at 12:03 am said:

      You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! I agree that our bodies tell us what they need and that we need to learn to listen. It’s difficult at times, but it goes a long way toward solving many health problems.

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