If you’ve got chronic health problems and you’ve been searching on the internet for solutions, you may have come across the idea of “copper toxicity”.
The idea promote heavily by Lawrence Wilson and other hair mineral analysis “experts” is that many people suffer from a form of copper toxicity that they call biounavilable copper. This is a scenario in which they claim that the body has stores of copper that is not bioavailable (usable by the body). Thus, one can be deficient in copper and simultaneously suffer from toxicity of too much (elemental) copper.
They claim that it is possible to diagnose this through hair mineral analysis – which it may or may not be. But they then go on to propose all kinds of (often highly restrictive and obsessive) dietary and lifestyle practices to remedy this situation.
The lifestyle practices are commonly extreme and potentially dangerous – and almost certainly unnecessary.
And depending on the practitioner, they may recommend an arsenal of supplemental nutrients.
When I am confronted with these complexities, I take a step back. I am strongly of the opinion that our bodies are largely capable of taking care of the complexities of health without us having to make it complex…as long as we keep it simple and don’t do things to obstruct balance in our bodies.
Animals, including humans, have existed for a very long time. And they have not needed complex protocols or dietary regimens to survive and thrive. So maybe, just maybe, the answers are simpler than we have been trained to think.
(Yes, at can be argued that we live in a time with unprecedented exposures to potential toxins – toxic metals, human-made poisons, halogens, etc. But before jumping into extreme remedies, it makes the most sense to me to first address the basics, which are about adequate food-based nutrition [which needn’t be restrictive], adequate sleep, loving care for yourself, letting go of unnecessary stresses, etc.)
Researchers studying how our bodies use copper tell us that our bodies need a type of protein called ceruloplasmin.
Without ceruloplasmin, copper sits around in elemental form and can be toxic.
With cerulopasmin, our bodies make use of copper (and iron) to carry out needed processes in the body and support health.
In other words, so-called “copper toxicity” or “biounvailable copper” may not be due to a deficiency in restrictive diets or coffee enemas. It may be because of something that we do that inhibits our bodies from producing adequate ceruloplasmin.
What does this have to do with nutritional supplements like Natural Calm and vitamin C?
Well, at least two things found in popular nutritional supplements may interfere with ceruloplasmin production. Please note that I used the word “may”. Don’t take this to an alarmist extreme. But some prudence may be worth exercising.
One of those things is citric acid (citrate). If you take supplemental minerals, there’s a good chance you’re taking minerals bound to citrate. For example, magnesium citrate is one of the most popular forms of supplemental magnesium.
Another of those things is ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. [ibid]
Okay, let’s put this in perspective: citrate is naturally-occurring in a variety of foods, including, not surprisingly, citrus fruits. If you eat an orange or drink a cup of orange juice, you’ve just ingested citrate.
Does that mean that if you eat oranges or squeeze lemon on salmon or a salad that you are causing a ceruplasmin deficiency?
Probably not. There’s no real evidence to support that view.
And so it may be that taking magnesium citrate supplements (like Natural Calm) or calcium citrate supplements or potassium citrate supplements may be completely benign – perhaps even beneficial. After all, citrate has been shown to reduce kidney stone formation.
But then again, maybe not. I don’t know of any human research demonstrating that supplemental citrate in these forms is benign in regard to ceruplasmin.
The Center for Magnesium Education & Research says that there is no proof that supplemental citrate is problematic. But again, I don’t know of any research demonstrating that it is benign.
Now, what about ascorbic acid? Well, there are a few studies showing that supplementation with ascorbic acid in humans in relatively large amounts can reduce ceruplasmin levels. For example, one such study reported that “serum ceruplasmin activity was significantly reduced” among the ascorbic acid supplementation group.
In the studies reporting these effects, participants supplemented with 1500-2000 mg of ascorbic acid daily, which is a fairly large amount. But consider that many ascorbic acid supplements these days contain 1000 mg per serving, so a lot of people are supplementing with 1000+ mg per day, and they may be experiencing reduced ceruplasmin levels as a result.
I have no idea what the effects of megadosing ascorbic acid may be, but I do know that there are a lot of advocates of supplementing ascorbic acid to “bowel tolerance”, which often involves taking 5000, 10000, or even more mg daily.
I don’t think any of this is cause of alarm. But I do think it is cause for prudence.
The point here is not to say that I know for sure that supplemental citrate or ascorbic acid is bad for health. Rather, it is point out that we simply do not know what the unintended consequences may be of these common practices.
Many of us have been sold the idea that magnesium citrate and ascorbic acid are entirely benign. But the truth is this: we don’t know.
Does this mean you should not take supplemental nutrients such as magnesium citrate or ascorbic acid? No, not at all. I can’t know that.
But I do think it is sensible to think twice when you come across such recommendations. We live in a time when many practices and lifestyle choices are normalized that are not time-tested.
People will argue in favor of or against many of these things, but the simple truth is this: we don’t know.
One thing I can say is that it seems to me that supplements can give us a sense of security – a sense that we’ve got the answer and a kind of health insurance policy through capsules and powders. This view is obviously promoted by the makers and sellers of nutritional supplements. They want us to feel that we’re making wise choices to ensure our health by buying and using these products.
But this can cause us to overlook the importance of attending to the basics, like eating a varied and adequate diet to cover our nutritional needs, sleeping enough, getting outside, taking responsibility for really loving our lives, engaging in meaningful relationships, and learning how to let go of unnecessary stresses.
Meanwhile, it can create a new unnecessary stress – the idea that somehow we need these supplements to be healthy, to ward off future illness. We can become dependent upon these stories, and that can generate a lot of stress that turns out to be counterproductive to health.
Please understand that this article is not a libel piece against Natural Calm or vitamin C or nutritional supplements in general. But it is just a call to consider how we’ve been brainwashed in some ways, and to have the courage to wake up from that and begin to take true responsibility for our health and happiness.
If this leaves you with more questions than you started with and perhaps some discomfort, then don’t be dismayed. That’s not a bad thing. That’s part of the process of waking up from the trance.