CD stands for copper deficiency. A pronounced copper deficiency is very rare, as copper is sufficiently available in the diet. As an essential trace element, copper is present in numerous enzymes and is also closely linked to iron metabolism. A lack of copper leads to anemia and immune deficiency.
What is copper deficiency?
A pronounced copper deficiency is manifested by anemia that resembles iron deficiency anemia. Not enough red blood cells are made. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to copper deficiency.
In the industrialized countries, a pronounced copper deficiency occurs only very rarely. The daily copper requirement for humans is 1.5 to 3 mg. Nuts, meat, seafood, grains and beans in particular contain a lot of copper. The higher the physical strain, the higher the copper requirement. It is mainly excreted in the urine. The body can store between 40 mg and 80 mg of copper. Both too low and too high copper concentrations lead to health problems.
Copper is a key trace element that controls many metabolic processes. It is found in many enzymes that protect against reactive oxygen, that support dopamine formation and that are responsible for elastin and collagen synthesis. It is also closely linked to the metabolism of vitamin C and controls the absorption of iron from food. Due to these diverse functions of copper, a pronounced copper deficiency has a very negative effect on the organism.
The causes of a copper deficiency are very diverse. The main cause is the reduced copper intake from food. In the industrialized countries there is a sufficient supply of food, so that the demand for copper is usually covered. In developing countries, copper deficiency is a bigger problem due to insufficient food supply. However, malnutrition can also lead to it.
In the case of malnutrition, there is sufficient food available, but the one-sided consumption of low-copper foods can lead to a copper deficiency. Other causes can be eating disorders and alcoholism. Older people in particular are at risk of suffering from a copper deficiency because, for various reasons, normal food intake is no longer guaranteed. However, there are other deficiencies in addition to the copper deficiency.
Medications can also interfere with copper absorption. Zinc-rich preparations in particular inhibit copper absorption. Certain medical conditions associated with malabsorption of dietary components, such as chronic gastrointestinal disease or celiac disease, can also cause copper deficiency. Hereditary diseases such as Wilson’s syndrome or Menkes’ syndrome also lead to low copper concentrations in the blood.
Wilson’s syndrome is a copper storage disorder and in Menkes’ syndrome copper uptake is impaired. In the case of severe injuries with blood loss, burns, certain diseases or medication, the need for copper is increased. If no more copper is supplied in this situation, copper deficiency also occurs.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A pronounced copper deficiency is manifested by anemia that resembles iron deficiency anemia. Not enough red blood cells are made. The copper deficiency causes a secondary iron deficiency due to a reduced absorption of iron from food, which can no longer be remedied by oral administration of iron preparations.
The pigment distribution in the skin changes. Furthermore, there is rapid graying of the hair, fatigue, paleness, poor performance and concentration and frequent infections. The bones become brittle. Psychological problems such as depression are particularly common. Copper deficiency often occurs together with other deficiency states.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Since the pronounced copper deficiency is very rare, it is often not examined and diagnosed. For this, blood tests must be carried out. The normal concentration of copper in the blood is between 80 and 140 micrograms per 100 ml. Due to the many possible causes, a copper deficiency may not be all that uncommon.
However, an insignificant copper deficiency does not cause any symptoms. The symptoms only appear when it is already more serious. In these cases, however, other deficiency states such as iron deficiency already appear in addition to the copper deficiency.
A prolonged copper deficiency can cause various complications. First of all, a lack of copper causes tiredness and lack of concentration as well as breathing difficulties. This increases the risk of accidents and can rarely lead to circulatory problems. Severe copper deficiency can lead to fainting and other complications.
Without copper, the immune system is also less efficient and there are more infections and skin diseases. The nervous system is weakened, which, for example, reduces fertility and can lead to growth disorders. If the trace element copper is missing, this also leads to reduced iron absorption from food. This leads to headaches, dizziness, exhaustion and a general drop in performance.
In the long term, physical complaints such as chapped lips, dry skin and brittle nails occur, which in turn can be associated with serious complications. Sometimes the physical changes can lead to psychological problems. Since a copper deficiency is difficult to diagnose as the cause, it can develop into a long-term emotional suffering.
Dietary supplements with copper can cause allergic reactions and other disorders. In addition, a targeted intake of copper through dietary measures can lead to weight gain and an unbalanced diet, each associated with further problems and complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
If symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and external changes are noticed, a doctor should be consulted. Signs of physical or mental weakness indicate a deficiency that needs to be diagnosed and treated. Since a copper deficiency can only be corrected in a targeted manner with an appropriate diagnosis, medical help must always be sought for the symptoms mentioned. If bone fractures or disorders of the central nervous system occur repeatedly, the deficiency may have existed for a long time.
Immediate medical attention is necessary to avoid permanent damage. People who suffer from an eating disorder, alcoholism or chronic gastrointestinal diseases are very susceptible to deficiency symptoms. Patients with Wilson syndrome, Menkens syndrome and celiac disease are also among the risk groups and should have signs of a deficiency checked immediately. If you have a copper deficiency, it is best to see your family doctor or an internist. If the disorder occurs as part of an existing illness, the responsible doctor must be informed. Further tests and adjustments to medication may be necessary during therapy.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment for copper deficiency depends on the underlying cause. As a rule, treatment consists of sufficient oral administration of copper preparations. However, these must not be administered together with zinc-containing preparations or medicines because zinc inhibits copper absorption. In severe cases of malabsorption, it may be necessary in rare cases to apply copper parenterally. Parenteral means that the intestine must be bypassed for absorption.
In these cases, there is a particularly severe disturbance of copper absorption in the intestine. If iron deficiency anemia is also present, iron must also be administered parenterally, because the copper deficiency prevents iron absorption in the intestine. The main causes of copper deficiency in industrialized countries are serious illnesses. Malnutrition plays no role here. However, psychologically-related eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia can lead to copper deficiency. Therefore, treating these eating disorders is paramount.
Other serious diseases such as cancer, depression or dementia can also be associated with reduced food intake. Here, too, it is important to treat the underlying disease. Impaired uptake of copper is to be expected in the case of severe gastrointestinal diseases and celiac disease. In addition to the parenteral administration of copper preparations, the prerequisite for an adequate copper supply is the healing of the corresponding disease.
Outlook & Forecast
The probability of suffering from a copper deficiency is very low in the western world. The trace element is present in many foods that are available everywhere. A disease can also be successfully treated, resulting in a good prognosis.
However, if there is a permanent copper deficiency, anemia and a weakened immune system set in. In addition to typical physical complaints, the psyche also suffers. Because dry skin or brittle nails reduce the attractiveness. In the long term, non-treatment entails a risk for the entire human organism.
In industrialized countries, copper deficiency is often a consequence of serious illnesses. Cancer and dementia in particular are considered triggers. Treatment consists of oral administration of tablets containing the trace element. In severe cases, the intestines must be bypassed, which is unproblematic according to the current state of science. Copper deficiency is usually treated as a secondary concern. Doctors focus on the causative disease. In the case of eating disorders and a tendency to an unbalanced diet, the prospect depends on the willingness of the person concerned to cooperate. Because here the wrong food intake and problematic ideals cause the complaints.
The prevention of a copper deficiency consists in an adequate supply of copper to the body. This is usually not a problem because the food contains enough copper. If there are signs of an eating disorder, you should seek medical advice. Serious gastrointestinal diseases urgently need to be clarified and treated in order to prevent deficiency symptoms such as iron or copper deficiency.
Unlike, for example, in the case of a tumor disease, aftercare for a copper deficiency is usually not part of the therapy. This is mainly due to the fact that the risk of disease in western industrialized countries is minimal anyway and can be easily remedied with suitable medication. The supply situation could hardly be better for avoiding illness.
Eating a balanced diet is enough to prevent recurrence. However, this does not fall under the responsibility of the health system; rather, the patient has to adapt to his everyday life. If necessary, a nutritional consultation can be attended. Long-term treatment is only necessary in cases where other diseases are causing the copper deficiency. Eating disorders, cancer and depression can cause the typical symptoms.
Follow-up care consists of regular check-ups, which are agreed with the doctor treating you. This refers to a symptom-related examination and a blood analysis. The patient also receives nutrition tips and other recipes. Scheduled follow-up examinations therefore do not play a significant role after a copper deficiency has been diagnosed in western industrialized countries. They only take place in the case of permanent and severe underlying diseases in order to prevent complications.
You can do that yourself
Normally, a balanced diet is sufficient to compensate for a copper deficiency. Anyone who feels the typical symptoms should primarily eat mushrooms, whole grain products, liver and mussels. Iron -rich foods such as nuts, cabbage, lentils and oatmeal also alleviate the symptoms and prevent the iron deficiency that often occurs as an accompaniment.
In the case of a pronounced copper deficiency, the doctor can also prescribe copper-containing dietary supplements. In addition, a healthy lifestyle should be striven for. Regular exercise and a good diet strengthen the entire organism and help to regulate deficiency symptoms in a natural way. A food diary can also help to identify the symptoms early on and prevent deficiency symptoms before pronounced physical and psychological problems occur.
If you have difficulties putting together a balanced diet, you should speak to a specialist doctor or directly to a nutritionist. This is particularly useful if you have an eating disorder, cancer, depression, dementia or another chronic condition that promotes copper deficiency. In the case of a first underlying disease, you should also consult your doctor. He can monitor the diet and give other tips and measures to counteract a copper deficiency.