Copper and zinc are two essential nutrients metals. Copper is important for keeping your heart healthy, brain development and healthy bones. Zinc is an immune-system booster and ensures that your body stays healthy. Copper and zinc have an interesting relationship where the intake of one of these elements causes the other element to decrease in your body. An intake of too much zinc, which is a key ingredient in some over-the-counter cold remedies, can cause irreversible neurological ailments associated with cooper deficiency. Learning how to maintain a proper balance between the two is important in preventing toxicity in the body while ensuring both of the functions of these two minerals is preserved.
Read the back of nutrition labels and supplements you consume and write down how many milligrams of zinc you have consumed. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends getting at least 15 mg a day for men and 12 mg a day for women.
Add together the total zinc values you have consumed for the day.
Read the back of the nutritional labels and supplements you have taken for the day and write down how many milligrams of copper you have consumed for the day. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a consumption of 1 mg a day of copper for both men and women.
Add together the total amount of copper you have consumed for the day.
Multiply your daily zinc intake by two and then divide by 15 to get the amount of copper you need to consume to meet the US National Academy of Sciences recommended ratio of zinc to copper. The ratio is 2 mg of copper should be consumed for every 15 mg of zinc. For example, if you consumed 30 mg of zinc for the day then: (30 x 2) / 15 = 4 mg of copper required to maintain a proper ratio.
Subtract the amount of copper you have consumed from the amount of copper recommended. If the numbers are equal, then you are balanced for the day. If the number is positive, consume an amount of copper equal to the difference between the two. If the number is negative, continue to the next step. For example, assume you consumed 30 mg of zinc. You require 4 mg to stay balanced; however, you have ingested 3 mg. Then 4 mg - 3 mg = 1 mg. For this example, you would need to consume 1 mg of copper.
Multiply the amount of copper you have ingested over your proper ratio by 7.5 mg to determine how much zinc to consume to restore balance to your daily ingestion of the two metals. For example, if you required 4 mg of copper but ingested 6 mg of copper then you have ingested 2 mg of copper in excess of the ratio. 2 mg x 7.5 = 15 mg of zinc to restore the ratio.
Keep copper and zinc specific supplements on hand so that you can easily balance the two by consuming a zinc or copper pill as required. Check the amount of zinc or copper in the pills and cut the pill according to how much you need to restore the balance between the two.
Do not exceed the daily maximal intake limit of 45 mg of zinc per day.
The recommended upper limit of copper is 10 mg per day; however, adverse side effects have been shown for sustained levels of 7.8 mg per day according to research published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
Consult your doctor before supplementing with copper or zinc to ensure it is safe for you and will not interact with any medications you are taking.
- International Copper Association; Copper, Iron, and Zinc - an Essential Trio for Health; November 2009
- Dr. Jeremy Kaslow: Copper/Zinc Imbalance
- The Great Plains Laboratory: Copper / Zinc Profile
- "Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements"; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2009
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Long-Term High Copper Intake: Effects on Copper Absorption, Retention, and Homeostasis in Men; Judith Turnlund, et al.; April 2005
- National Academy of Sciences; News from the National Academies; 2009