How To Get The Proper Zinc-Copper Ratio And Why It Matters For Your Bones And Your Health

When it comes to mineral supplementation, a very important aspect tends to get overlooked: how a mineral balances with other supplements. The fact is, if you rely solely on the Establishment’s overemphasis on calcium, you can unknowingly cause an imbalance that can actually harm your bones and overall health.

The mineral we’re going to discuss today is seldom mentioned in relation to osteoporosis, but it’s a very important nutrient your bones need to renew and rejuvenate. What’s more, another mineral can act as its antagonist if taken in too great a quantity.

So today you’ll learn about the important bone health and overall health benefits of zinc and copper, both of which are Foundation Supplements, and how to balance them so you can maximize their effects.

Let’s get started!

Why Zinc For Bones?

If you look for zinc supplements in the store, you’re likely to find them among the cold and flu remedies, not with the bone supplements. But zinc is actually required during every single step of the complex process of bone metabolism and remodeling.
Let’s take a look at the very important functions of zinc as it relates to bones:

  • Zinc acts as a cofactor during bone formation by regulating enzymatic activity in several metabolic processes (such as the regulation of collagen and elastin crosslinking), and osteoblast activity itself.
  • Zinc naturally inhibits osteoclasts (bone-destroying cells) while increasing osteoblasts (bone-building cells).
  • Zinc is part of a crucial trio with manganese and copper that work together to form Superoxide Dismutase, a vital enzymatic antioxidant.
  • An enzyme called alkaline phosphatase needs zinc in order to function properly. Alkaline phosphatase boosts osteoblasts’ bone-building activity.
  • Zinc is present in bone itself – it’s found in hydroxyapatite mineral crystals which account for 50% of your bones’ weight.
  • Vitamin D must have zinc to get into bone cells.

Zinc And General Health

Zinc is important for overall health as well. There’s a reason you find zinc supplements with cold remedies in the store – a zinc deficiency reduces the efficiency and activity of the immune system.

Your skin health is also influenced by zinc. Diets low in zinc play a part in skin conditions such as acne and even canker sores.

Too little zinc can result in a loss of taste and decreased appetite, and in fact, low zinc levels are often found in those with anorexia.1

Your eyesight is also affected by zinc; it works with Vitamin A to facilitate your ability to see light and send necessary nerve impulses to the brain.

While it’s possible to obtain this mineral from foods, sometimes the best way to ensure that you’re getting enough zinc is with a supplement (more on this later).

Foods High In Zinc

Here are some of the foods highest in zinc, many of which are Foundation Foods.

  • Grass-fed beef*
  • Oysters
  • Sesame seeds*
  • Pumpkin seeds*
  • Cashews*
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach*
  • Lentils*
  • Peas*
  • Lamb
  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)*
  • Turkey*
  • Sunflower seeds*
  • Mushrooms*
  • *Foundation Food

    So many delicious Foundation Foods are rich in zinc that if you’re following the Save Our Bones Program, you’re well on your way to getting plenty of this mineral. It’s crucial, however, that zinc be balanced with copper, which is also important for general health and bone health. Copper is a Foundation Supplement that’s necessary for collagen manufacturing, and it works with zinc and manganese, as mentioned earlier.

    But copper is only needed in trace amounts (the RDA is a mere 0.9mg a day), and too much copper can undermine your zinc levels and cause unpleasant symptoms.

    Zinc And Copper: A Vital Balancing Act

    Copper is abundant in a wide variety of foods (we’ll take a look at those foods in a moment) and in tap water (many plumbing systems use copper pipes). Copper jewelry is also popular. But that means it’s abundant in the environment, and therefore fairly easy to take in too much. And when excessive copper is coupled with too little zinc intake, copper can build in the tissues.

    Too much copper can manifest in a number of unpleasant health problems, ranging from chronic fatigue to nausea and even mood disorders.2 And of course, such an imbalance also prevents proper bone remodeling.

    If your diet includes abundant zinc, however, and you are eating moderate amounts of high-quality protein, excessive copper can be metabolized and excreted via the bile.3

    Foods Rich In Copper

    The following foods contain copper, and they are all Foundation Foods. You’ll notice that many of them are rich in zinc as well – another reason why a nutritional plan that emphasizes whole foods is the most balanced.

    • Mushrooms*
    • Sesame seeds*
    • Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)*
    • Sunflower seeds*
    • Lentils*
    • Cashews*
    • Walnuts*
    • Lima beans*

    *Foundation Food

    You needn’t worry about getting too much copper from the above foods if you’re supplementing with zinc and if you’re following the Program, which includes the right proportions of protein, grains, and zinc-rich foods.

    What About Zinc Supplements?

    It’s a good idea to supplement with zinc if you’re following a pH-balanced diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables rather than meats. In addition, heavy intake of grains, whole or refined, can skew the balance in favor of copper.

    Refined grains have nutrients removed, disturbing the copper-zinc ratio, and whole grains contain phytates which interfere with zinc absorption (copper absorption is not as affected by phytates as zinc).4 Because the nutritional plan in Save Our Bones Program is pH-balanced, it does not emphasize grains, which is another way it helps maintain a healthy zinc-copper balance.

    The RDA for zinc (8mg for women and 11mg for men) is likely too low to offset the abundance of copper in our diets and environment, so supplementation with a good quality amino acid chelate, such as zinc orotate, is a good idea. The tolerable upper intake level, or UL, for adults is 40 mg, which means that you can take up to that dosage without worries.

    It’s Important To Know Which Supplements Help Your Bones, Because Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

    It’s clear: you can’t rely on the Medical Establishment to inform you of all the necessary nutrients that your bones need. As Savers know by now, Mainstream Medicine focuses solely on calcium and occasionally Vitamin D, but no nutrient works in isolation. Such an approach can cause more harm than good.

    That’s why it’s so crucial to understand what vitamins and minerals you need to build bone, and how they work.

    The Save Our Bones Program contains vital, detailed information about each Foundation Supplement, and it’s all backed by more than 200 scientific studies. The Program is based on research and sound information, not trends or conventional “wisdom.”

    Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss

    Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Save Our Bones Program.

    Learn More Now →

    The Save Our Bones Program’s nutritional plan brings everything into balance!

    Till next time,

    1Molokwu, Caleb O., BS and Li, Yang V., MB, PhD. “Zinc Homeostasis and Bone Mineral Density.” Ohio Research and Clinical Review. Fall 2006. Volume 15. PDF. http://airccse.com/ijbes/papers/1114ijbes04.pdf

    2Ross, Julia, The Mood Cure. Viking Penguin, New York, NY, 2002. p. 303

    3Pfeiffer, Carl C., PhD., M.D., Mental and Elemental Nutrients, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, CT, 1975, p 222

    4Lee, DY and others. Enhancement of CU bioavailability in the rat by phytic acid. Journal of Nutrition. 1988 Jun;118(b):712-7.

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46 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Robert DiSilvestro November 24, 2017, 11:07 am

    I am considered a world expert in copper and zinc. I have published multiple research study papers on both. Most of what’s said in this page is just not correct. For one thing, in response to Noelene’s issue, a high copper to zinc ratio in plasma is generally caused by inflammation causing body mineral redistribution. It is NOT generally caused by eating too much copper and too little zinc. In my own research, I have shown that high plasma copper can occur despite having a degree of copper deficiency. I could just keep going on and on about what’s wrong here. I will just say that I am an expert; the person writing this page is not

  2. Ryan October 22, 2017, 8:21 pm

    How much Zinc should I take daily for health? I am really wondering. Please let me know, Vivian.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 23, 2017, 9:33 am

      Hi Ryan,

      Here’s a segment of the article that should answer your question: “The RDA for zinc (8mg for women and 11mg for men) is likely too low to offset the abundance of copper in our diets and environment, so supplementation with a good quality amino acid chelate, such as zinc orotate, is a good idea. The tolerable upper intake level, or UL, for adults is 40 mg, which means that you can take up to that dosage without worries.”

  3. Noelene November 16, 2016, 6:55 pm

    Hi I have been told I have high copper low zinc. I have suffered depression and anxiety for 32 years on and off. I am taking a 30mg dose of duloxetine and am slowly working with dietitian about copper and zinc. The trouble id I’m going through hell and I don’t know what to do. Has anyone else been in this position. I,m at wits end .
    Noelene

    • Thiago March 20, 2017, 8:50 pm

      Try coffee enemas. IS this best you can do to feel better and eliminate copper off the body.

    • Aisling Fitzgibbon January 26, 2017, 6:45 pm

      Hi Noelene
      when we change the body’s biochemistry the copper that is stored in the tissues is released into the blood stream causing detox reactions. It is necessary to open the detox pathways to release the copper out of the body

    • David December 1, 2016, 8:05 am

      Dear 🙂
      Please watch some of John Bergmans youtube video, he makes often video for Years. he is one of the best health care person that I can imagine because, dr, nutrtionist and one of the best chiropractor plus funny 🙂 i don’t know anyone who don’t like him. by watching his video you learn a lot, FOR FREE, you don’t have to do anything and you understand who our body works and what you need to stay healthy.

      2. you can make a meeting by skype if you don’t live in usa (la).
      if every doctor would have the half of his experience, 90% of the sick people would be healthy. he showed few short videos working on recover brain damage. if he gets this girl healthy, that will be the ticket for him to be send on holograms over the whole globus.

      he is not perfect, no one is. 🙂 he is not 100% vegan ^^ but i still like him, who is active and really help others, with that positive attitude is just great.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA November 17, 2016, 8:12 am

      Noelene, I want to commend you for being proactive and working on your health, mental and physical. That’s far more than many people do! You might like to read this post on lemon balm, a very effective anti-anxiety herb:

      https://saveourbones.com/lemon-balm-a-calming-alternative-to-bone-damaging-anti-anxiety-drugs/

      and you also might be interested in mood-lifting foods, which you can read about here:

      https://saveourbones.com/avoid-the-winter-blues-with-these-8-bone-healthy-mood-lifting-foods/

      Hang in there!

  4. Halima T.Bello November 16, 2016, 4:46 am

    Please show me how to convert zinc result from 68mcg/dl to mg/dl and cupper result from 145mcg/dl to mg/dl

  5. Alex October 28, 2016, 10:29 am

    so if you are taking 25mg of zinc do u need to take copper?

  6. GoldScreen September 1, 2016, 1:22 pm

    please Vivian I wanna know which is right.
    Zinc copper ratio or
    Copper Zinc ratio.

    or it doesn’t matter how you call it does it change the calculated results. tks

  7. Dee August 23, 2016, 8:50 am

    Have excessive copper levels around 400. Trying to deplete using dietary methods while waitingt on prescription to be approved. What foods other than grass Fed beef and lamb are high in ZINC but low in copper?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA August 23, 2016, 1:14 pm

      Hi Dee,

      Pumpkin seeds, turkey, and quinoa are zinc-rich foods with less copper. 🙂

  8. Mel August 17, 2016, 4:01 pm

    Hi there—

    My zinc is 67, and my ceruloplasmin is 48, while my serum copper is 194. I’m also four months pregnant, and know this can be damaging to the fetus. What can I do?

  9. sukhdev singh July 21, 2016, 3:44 am

    Zinc low continuity and above continuty Ration in soil

  10. Michele April 13, 2016, 9:36 am

    My serum zinc is 72 mcg/dL (lab range says (60-130 mcg/dL) and my serum copper is 144 uG/dL (lab range says 70-175 uG/dL). What would be the optimal ranges for zinc and copper serum levels? Someone told me my zinc is too low and my copper is too high. Thanks.

    • matthew April 18, 2016, 1:34 pm

      The ideal ratio (in the blood, not dietary intake) for Copper:Zinc (Copper to Zinc) is 0.7 to 1.0. That means your blood work would have slightly lower copper than zinc, if measured using the same units. So, Copper 84 mcg/dL and 120 mcg/dL of Zinc, for example. You should also be testing ceruloplasmin and also calculating free copper and perhaps NCC.

      Free copper calculation: 100 x (Serum Copper – (3.15 x ceruloplasmin)) / serum copper

  11. Scott January 21, 2016, 12:21 pm

    What would be an appropriate testing method for minerals and ratios? Hair analysis/ blood serum or from spectra cell?

  12. aaron November 7, 2015, 11:54 am

    I take 30mg zinc to 1.5mg copper…can u explain the ratio…and is 30mg of zinc to 1mg copper 10:1 ratio?

    • mark January 19, 2016, 6:58 pm

      i hope that helps aaron

    • mark January 19, 2016, 6:57 pm

      30 mg zinc requires 3-4 mg copper, or take 40 mg zinc to 4 mg copper. if you are taking 500 mg vit c or more, and iron and manganese they antagonize the absorbtion of copper, so make sure to get that copper or you will feel fatigue because you will cripple your iron absorbtion and your thyroid hormone. balance the zinc 10mg zinc to 1 mg copper.

  13. Vincent September 5, 2015, 8:36 am

    Wonderful list Vivian! Here are some other zinc rich foods that can be added to the diet:

    Pine nuts
    Adzuki beans
    Chia seeds
    Pecans
    Brazil nuts
    Oats
    Almonds
    Walnuts
    Lima beans
    Kidney beans

    I found these foods here: http://www.healthsomeness.com/foods-high-in/zinc/ – the article has a lot of information on zinc!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 5, 2015, 2:14 pm

      Thank you, Vincent!

  14. Rita July 6, 2015, 10:25 pm

    What calcium suppliment do you recommend if I’m taken Coumadin and cannot have the vitamin K?

  15. Judy July 2, 2015, 9:56 am

    Hi
    I too would Love to see a DVD for your Densersize program . Please address this. Much appreciation for developing an alternative approach to reversing/ slowing down the progression of Bone loss. Thanks!

  16. debbie dillard July 1, 2015, 10:27 pm

    what affect do amino acids have on osteoporosis? I take a supplement with Vit Bs that also has amino acids in it and green tea extract (advocare biocharge).

    • Customer Support July 2, 2015, 9:08 am

      Hi Debbie,
      Vivian has written quite a few posts on amino acids. Here are the results of a search for “amino acids” on this site:

      https://saveourbones.com/?s=amino+acids

      That should help you get started on your research!

  17. Jan July 1, 2015, 9:48 am

    Hi Vivian
    Thanks for all your helpful information. Can you comment on what you think about ionised water in the PH balance of the body and it’s help in bone health.
    Thanks Jan
    Western Australia

  18. shula June 30, 2015, 7:24 pm

    Thanks

  19. Debby Hanson June 30, 2015, 2:43 pm

    I would love to see a densersize DVD made available. Is that a possibility?

  20. Carole Coleman June 30, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Dear Vivian,

    I am so glad I found you when I was told I had osteoporosis. I read all of your articles. I am wondering why you are not with Pinerest so that we can use Pin It to a board we can create which would make it easy to have your articles all together for reference.

  21. Nancy June 30, 2015, 1:28 pm

    But you never did give us a ratio (like the old calcium/magnesium ratio of 2:1). How do I know if my multi is giving me the right ratio to start with, and when I take a lot of zinc during a sore throat scare, do I need a copper supplement as well?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 30, 2015, 1:59 pm

      The ideal zinc-copper ratio is 8:1, but when looking for a supplement, it’s best to have a little higher zinc than that because copper is more prevalent than zinc (especially when following an 80/20 pH-balanced nutritional plan). Here’s an example of a good ratio for daily intake: 25 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper. Also, you need to watch out for excessive zinc intake (for several months, not for a short period of time, as when taking more zinc to fight a cold), because it can deplete copper.

      • Danielle October 25, 2017, 12:02 pm

        Hi Vivian – I’m 49; I’m taking 22mg of Zinc picolinate , 200mcg of selenium, and 400 mg of vit E mix tocopherols… vit D3 2000mg ( when I remember ) and Vit C gummies 250-500mg. Do I need to take copper and if so, how much and should I change / add anything else into my routine?

  22. Doris J Gibson June 30, 2015, 12:53 pm

    So Vivian can you suggest a vitamin that includes all the things we must take for our bones. It is hard for me to swallow a bunch of pills. Thanks Doris

    • Annie November 5, 2015, 5:43 am

      Doris,
      To take one vitamin pill to get everything you need for your bones, would be like buying a multiple vitamin which is a big waste of money cause there is Not much of anything in them..Just allot of nothing that is not going to matter.

      Try taking a couple of different vitamins at a time, 3 or 4 times a day with a little healthy fat, so your vitamins will absorb.

  23. myrna June 30, 2015, 10:04 am

    Do antidepressant like wellbutrin increase risk for fractures?

  24. Marc June 30, 2015, 5:07 am

    Hello Elaine

    The daily amount of zinc is roughly 40mg. 100-150mg daily can interfere with copper
    metabolism and lead to a deficiency in this important mineral in your body.

    Marc

  25. Betty June 30, 2015, 4:09 am

    Thank you Vivian for for the valuable information about vitamins/minerals etc. It all greatly appreciated.and very helpful.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 30, 2015, 2:17 pm

      You’re very welcome, Betty!

  26. Elaine Neitzel June 30, 2015, 3:45 am

    My zinc level is 128 after taking 50 m of zinc. Is that too high?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 30, 2015, 10:06 am

      Hi Elaine,
      You don’t mention how you’re testing your zinc levels, but the discrepancy could be due to a number of factors, including foods you’ve eaten and your copper levels.

  27. Joan June 30, 2015, 3:42 am

    Hi Vivian
    Thank you for all the valuable information that you pass on to us it’s a great help in keeping me on the right path
    Best Wishes
    Joan
    western Australia

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 30, 2015, 8:58 am

      You’re welcome, Joan!

      • marianna May 13, 2016, 10:31 am

        Hi Vivian,
        What is your opinion on the Osteostrong program?

        Thank you for all your info!

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