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

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.

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 Osteoporosis Reversal 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. You can also supplement with up to 2 mg of amino acid chelated copper.

    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 Osteoporosis Reversal 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 Osteoporosis Reversal 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 Osteoporosis Reversal Program.

    Learn More Now →

    The Osteoporosis Reversal Program’s nutritional plan brings everything into balance!

    Till next time,

    1 Molokwu, 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.

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

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

    4 Lee, 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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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Z

    Funny that this article doesn’t mention Zinc imbalance. You can have too much Zinc with all kinds of wonderful downsides.

  2. paula picariello

    thank you Vivian for all your info. Paula

  3. Johnson Davis

    You list Quinoa as a source of zinc. But Quinoa is a genetically altered, weak sister of Quinua. Quinoa has 80% less zinc than Quinua. Quinoa can hardly be called nutritious in any sense of the word. Quinua, on the other hand is highly nutritious, being 22% more nutritious than whole wheat! Attention to detail folks! Attention to detail!

  4. Lucia

    If my ration Zn-Cu is 21.8, and Zn si 240 and Cu 11, is any problem since my understanding is that the ratio must be between 4-20? Psychosis problem and I am under risperidone 2ml/day and orhomolecular treatment vit B3,magnesium complex B, Adrenoplus 300(has Zn in formula), vitamin D3, Opti DHA. Thank you for your help

  5. Robert DiSilvestro

    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

    • sonia

      I have great doubts about Robert diSilvestro about being an expert on zinc/copper ratio or zinc/copper imbalance. Unbound copper is toxic and cannot be utilised. Copper binds with zinc and manganese and if a person is low on zinc and manganese, the person has plenty of copper but actually suffer the lack of copper, this was very well explained by Alex Tuggle L.Ac. in his discourse Copper Toxicity for example. Too much copper and not enough zinc causes very pink or purple colour of tissues which look inflamed and they are inflamed and it is the reason of inflamation. Germs play secondary role in inflamation. Supplementing with dietary zinc and manganese is crucial in this situation and then copper can reach sites where it is needed once it is bound with Zn or Mn. Don`t forget that alcohol or refined sugar and certain medication depletes zinc, vegan diet isn`t very auspicious for zinc levels. It is an important issue in metabolism and iron is also a player, there is a triangle: copper – iron -zinc. Important relations.

    • David Clark

      Perhaps you should direct us to where you can go on and on, if you are at all concerned that we readers are learning the truth about these two highly debated minerals. Just saying you are an expert tells us nothing, show us.

    • Helper

      Thank heavens an expert expertly shared his expertise. Did I mention you are an expert?

      • David Clark

        I did do a search on Mr. DiSilvestra, and he is indeed a bonafide researcher/expert?. However, to just chastize the writings of this article, instead of giving the readers answers to the zinc/copper questions, or at least telling us where to get answers from him sort of shows me that he himself may not have answers to give because this zinc/copper issue is very complex, especially since one can be copper toxic and copper deficient at the same time. Are you an expert or a troll? If you are an expert, give us info/recommendations, not arrogance.

    • Aleatra Lenahan

      I would like to pick your brain about copper and it’s interactions with certain blood type and who can and can not use copper. You can contact me on Facebook.

  6. Ryan

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

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      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.”

  7. Noelene

    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 .

    • Thiago

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

    • Aisling Fitzgibbon

      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

      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

      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:

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

      Hang in there!

  8. Halima T.Bello

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

  9. Alex

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

  10. GoldScreen

    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

  11. Dee

    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

      Hi Dee,

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

  12. Mel

    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?

  13. sukhdev singh

    Zinc low continuity and above continuty Ration in soil

  14. Michele

    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

      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

  15. Scott

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

  16. aaron

    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

      i hope that helps aaron

    • mark

      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.

  17. Vincent

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

    Pine nuts
    Adzuki beans
    Chia seeds
    Brazil nuts
    Lima beans
    Kidney beans

    I found these foods here: – the article has a lot of information on zinc!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thank you, Vincent!

  18. Rita

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

  19. Judy

    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!

  20. debbie dillard

    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

      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:

      That should help you get started on your research!

  21. Jan

    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

  22. shula


  23. Debby Hanson

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

  24. Carole Coleman

    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.

  25. Nancy

    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

      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

        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?

  26. Doris J Gibson

    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

      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.

  27. myrna

    Do antidepressant like wellbutrin increase risk for fractures?

  28. Marc

    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.


  29. Betty

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

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Betty!

  30. Elaine Neitzel

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

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      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.

  31. Joan

    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
    western Australia

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Joan!

      • marianna

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

        Thank you for all your info!

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