You're Not Getting Enough Copper If This Happens To You

When you think of nutrients your body needs, copper might not be the first one that comes to mind. But it is necessary for many functions including making red blood cells, converting sugar to energy, and protecting cells from damage. It also helps your body absorb iron, and it supports your immune system. You don't need a lot of copper — adults need 900 micrograms daily— and most people get enough of it through a healthy diet, per WebMD. Vegans and strict vegetarians might have a harder time than most when it comes to copper, but nuts, beans, and lentils are some good sources of the nutrient, according to SF Gate.

There are some conditions that make it harder for your body to absorb copper. For example, people with intestinal, kidney, or pancreas diseases may need to add more copper to their diet. If you are under a lot of stress, or if you have the genetic disorder Menkes disease, you might also be low on copper.

What are the signs of a copper deficiency?

Because copper helps in the development of red blood cells, a deficiency could lead to anemia, which is a condition in which your blood cells cannot oxygenate your tissues. This condition makes you feel weak and tired, per Healthline. Low levels of copper may weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Copper is important for brain function, so memory problems are possible. If you have low levels of copper, you could also be more sensitive to cold. Interestingly, not having enough copper in your blood might lead to pale skin or the premature graying of your hair. The good news is that most of these conditions can be reversed with an increase in copper-rich foods.

While copper deficiencies are considered rare, 25% of the population in the U.S. and Canada have low levels of copper (via Healthline). If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor.