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Copper Deficiency Causing Neuropathy

Brandt R Gibson, DPM
Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute
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A well documented cause of peripheral neuropathy is vitamin deficiency.  The same deficiencies are found in many minerals, such as trace copper.   Copper is a mineral found in whole grains, legumes, shell fish (such as oysters), liver and other organ meats, fruits (especially cherries and prunes), leafy green vegtables, nuts, poultry, dark chocolate, and soybean products.  Due to the common oral intake and need for only very small amounts, copper deficiency is somewhat rare. 

When it presents, however, it can cause anemia, leukopenia, myelopathy (problems with the spinal cord) and peripheral neuropathy including poor muscle control.  This is extremely problematic and can lead to long-term symptoms of neuropathy if not diagnosed and treated quickly.  It may also lead to muscle weakness and frequent falls or loss of balance. 

Causes of Copper Deficiency

So even with limited chance of neuropathy from not eating enough copper, there are two major (and common) reasons for peripheral neuropathy to present:

  • Gastric Bypass Surgery - Leading to poor absorption (malabsorption) of copper from the diet or supplements.
  • Zinc Toxicity - Higher amounts of zinc in the diet (as when taking zinc for a cold or in a vitamin without adding copper) can cause a decrease in copper stores and lead to copper deficiency.

Whatever the cause of your copper deficiency, this is a condition that should be considered when looking at peripheral neuropathy.
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