EP 47: Does Zinc Supplementation Deplete Copper? with Dr. Judith Bowman

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Our world is filled with dis- mis- and mal-information.

I am amazed at how many articles and papers have diametrically opposed views about copper and zinc. So no wonder people are confused about the role these important nutrients play in human health. 

To be clear copper isn’t bad and zinc isn’t bad. Ideally, we want them in healthy, functional ranges. But myriad factors, including genetic susceptibility and environmental insults, are common among people that have an inability to regulate metals appropriately, especially copper.

When copper is elevated, it becomes a pro-inflammatory agent and can cause a wide variety of issues, including dysregulation of estrogen receptors, leading to PMS and PMDD, high anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even fibromyalgia to name a few.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why zinc is critical for enzyme production, cell reproduction, and methylation
  • How zinc supports your body’s ability to regulate minerals and metals in your cells
  • Why a healthy balance of zinc and copper is essential for mood regulation
  • The testing that can accurately reflect your zinc and copper levels, and the tests that are often misinterpreted
  • Copper’s links to reproductive cancers and tumor growth

Today I’m joined again by Dr. Judith Bowman to discuss the role copper and zinc play in regulating mood, hormone, and immune system function.

Judith Bowman, MD co-founded Mensah Medical in 2008 with her colleague, Albert Mensah, MD. Dr. Bowman combines traditional medicine with the biochemical approach to treat the symptoms of behavioral and cognitive disorders, autism spectrum disorder, depression (including postpartum depression), anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other biochemical imbalances.

Within the below transcript, the bolded text is Samantha Gilbert and the regular text is Dr. Judith Bowman.

What Does Copper and Zinc Do for the Body?

Dr. Bowman, I wanted to bring you back on because, like copper overload, there’s a lot of misinformation about zinc, especially as it relates to copper. So I feel a conversation about zinc will help clear a lot of things up. So just to start us off. Most people know what zinc is. It’s an essential mineral, it’s needed for fertility and to prevent miscarriage. In fact, we know that women who consistently miscarry males are zinc deficient. In children zinc deficiency causes delayed growth and sexual maturation, susceptibility to infections, hyperactivity, depression and high anxiety to name a few.

Zinc is so important, as I’ve learned from you over the years, that it’s the number one deficiency that we see in mental health. So some of the harmful information that I’m seeing that you and I have chatted about a bit is that you should only get zinc from food, or by taking oyster supplements, because supplemental zinc is bad for you and depletes copper. And that copper is far more important than zinc. So today we’re going to talk about how flawed this thinking is. And before we jump in, I just want to go on the record and let everyone know that I take zinc every single day. And I have for over a decade now. And it’s one of our top healing nutrients. So thank you, Dr. Bowman, for educating me on how important this mineral truly is.

It is definitely that kind of important. And so I know you’ve mentioned several things, but if you were to Google zinc in terms of what it actually does, you would find there’s three or four or five or even 10 pages about how important this one particular mineral is. And so it goes way beyond even the things that you mentioned, which are extremely critical. No doubt about that. No doubt.

The Role of Zinc in DNA Replication

Yes, thank you for saying that. So on that note, let’s start off with how powerful zinc is by talking about enzyme production and DNA repair.

Absolutely. Can’t happen without it.

Yes, without adequate zinc, we can’t function, our bodies can’t repair DNA to maintain health. Dr. Bowman, why is enzyme production and DNA repair so important?

Well, if you consider that every cell that you have doesn’t live for an eternity. Yes, that one cell your entire lifetime, and then it is actually going to need to split into two to keep life going. You need zinc for that to happen. Zinc becomes a major player. That’s basically what that is. DNA ligase is the enzyme that’s involved with that. But there’s more than one enzyme. There’s that one and there’s many other enzymes as well. And without zinc those particular enzymes have no activity. And so in order to keep living, zinc becomes a critical element to do so. In terms of, you know, just reproducing other cells in general and reproduction, as you already mentioned in and of its own. It’s extremely important for that.

Yes, thank you, isn’t it about three hundred enzymes? Is that about right, about three hundred?

Three hundred that are well known, perhaps, but there are many more. And some that we don’t even know because we don’t know everything. But in terms of enzymatic actions, it is extremely important that that particular element be there.

Zinc is Required for Enzyme Production

For people that don’t really quite understand, would you mind sharing with us what an enzyme is and why enzymes are important in the body?

First of all, proteins are the big umbrella. And under proteins there’s enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and other proteins as well. And enzymes, of course, are one of those proteins. You need certain things to happen. A lot of times in school they’ll teach you, well you know you need the enzyme reaction. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take product A and product B, and if you look at them singly, they will just sit there. You can try to fuse them together or mix them up. And they just sit there. Very often an enzyme is needed, something that will actually activate them in order for something else to happen. Some chemical composition or a particular action has to happen once its enzyme is present. As far as how people work, general physiology, most things work with an enzyme or what you call a coenzyme, in order for something to happen. It’s absolutely critical.

Zinc and Copper: zinc is a cofactor in the creation of DNA replication and enzyme production.

Yes, we wouldn’t be standing, we wouldn’t be alive if these processes weren’t continually happening inside our body. So thank you for that overview. One thing that is really critical that we have spoken about so many times on the show is methylation. And even if your zinc levels are normal, let’s say you’re undermethylated, like I am, or maybe you know we have several patients that are overmethylated, we also need zinc for that methylation process to happen, isn’t that correct?

We need zinc and several other items as well, cofactors. Zinc is extremely critical, though, for that to happen. And so we did talk about this methylation issue, over undermethylated and normally methylated individuals. And so in order for things to happen, you need both methylating ability, and there must be enzymes to help one methylate. And so what is methylation about? It’s about activation. So you’re activating other enzymes, sometimes other hormones, neurotransmitters, other proteins so that they do their job. Here’s the issue. Enzymes are necessary, because most things that you make in a cell, they’re packaged little products, they’re in the little bubbles. They’re not active. You don’t want a lot of active little chemicals, free floating, just doing whatever they need to do.

The body is very organized and very timely. And so it will capture all of these products, put them in their little packages. And then there’s a procedure for which they come out. But the enzyme or the protein, whatever it is, needs to be activated. Part of the activation takes place because there’s zinc around. It also takes place with the cofactors that are also there. It also takes place because there’s an enzyme to help activate whatever the product is. So all these packaged goods that ourselves are a big factory making; they don’t just put them out there free floating because they’re very highly active chemicals. And so you don’t want to activate that until the need is there to activate it. And because we’re so wonderfully made of signals, go out signaling exactly that and enzymes get busy, and the products are produced.

Zinc is required for enzyme production. Click To Tweet

How Does Zinc Deficiency Affect the Brain?

Wonderful. Thank you for walking us through that. Another area that is, I think, critically important as it relates to zinc is our antioxidants. Most people are familiar with glutathione, but they’ve never heard of metallothionein, which supports the blood brain barrier. And as you know, it helps prevent harmful chemicals from entering the brain. Zinc is really critical for this process as well.

Absolutely. So a lot of people do not realize they don’t metabolize metals the way they should simply because perhaps their glutathione or their metallothionein are low or aren’t produced in amounts that are going to be beneficial or something’s wrong with it. Something happened, genetic predisposition towards a faulty, say metallothionein. And so very often, when we talk about our autistic community, they are very starved of an active metallothionein. And so very often you see these kids with heavy metal overload, beyond what anybody really should have, missed because their metallothionein is not working the way that it should or they produce, you know, a very low amount of it. So here’s the deal. Zinc needs to be present, guess what, to help activate metallothionein. Otherwise, it just kind of sits over in the corner and does nothing. So unless there’s enough zinc on board. And most of those kids are very zinc deficient, along with a lot of other folks. But, unless zinc is there to activate that particular protein it sits and does nothing. And all that happens is an accumulation of what you call heavy metals, which causes a great difficulty in terms of how you’re actually going to be thinking.

Your brain is somewhat like a battery, and so it needs to process itself. Depending on how many things are there, what is there in the right proportion, copper and zinc also being one of those metals, if you want to call it that, that should be present along with a lot of other minerals and elements that all must be placed in balance. And so metallothionein becomes extremely critical to help that happen. The little visual I’d love to give you relative to how that actually works, because I tend to make movies in terms of trying to give people a perspective of what this must look like. Metallothionein can be somewhat of a sergeant or a foreman, you could say, and needs to inspect every single cell in your body, not just your brain, okay. And so it tends to accumulate or be most concentrated say in the GI tract or the brain, i.e. there is a brain gut connection. And it inspects every single cell to see, are all the minerals and elements and metals in their right proportion.

So you could say it knocks on the door and say, “Hey, it’s your inspection time. Let’s see what you got there. Hmm, looks like we’re a little heavy on the copper, just barely enough zinc, or maybe not quite enough. Let’s go down the magnesium list, sodium list and everything else that should be there.” It seems to have an abundance of things that you might need, for which it will donate that. If the things that there are too much, it will actually regulate and pull those things out of the system. Such that once it decides that everything is in perfect balance, it can leave and go to the next cell. Okay. So that is called a regulation process. That regulation process does not occur if there is no zinc around.

I love your analogies. You always have the best analogies when we talk. It makes it so easy to understand for our readers.

Just trying to paint a movie. You know, let’s visualize what is actually happening there. You know, and that becomes easier to understand. And so yeah, so metallothionein in and of itself, and it doesn’t have to be kids with autism. It can be anyone who has a metal overload or difficulty processing minerals and metals. If your metallothionein is low, a couple of things could be wrong. Perhaps you’re an undermethylater as well. Which is to say that, oh, we can’t even activate that particular protein or enzyme. We can’t activate it. And there’s no zinc around either, to help it move along. Because zinc is acting like a fuel. Okay, it really is. And so unless there’s enough of that around, it’s gonna be some issues. Okay.

Indeed, indeed. Thank you for that, Dr. Bowman. We’re talking about the brain. I really want to do a deep dive here into zinc and the brain and why it’s needed to create our good neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine. Whereas copper feeds the bad ones, the bad pathways such as norepinephrine that we don’t want and lowers dopamine. So we don’t want elevated norepinephrine, which is what copper does. And we don’t want lower dopamine. That’s really a problem. And that’s another reason why zinc is important.

Absolutely. What I wanted to say about that. A lot of folks don’t know, and who go around thinking of biochemistry all the time as if it’s just a daily subject. But in every medical school that you can find, every biochemistry book will show you that B6 and zinc, and I mentioned B6 because we haven’t talked about that one. But this is where zinc also comes into play. They are absolutely critical for the production of, say neurotransmitters. And so when you have things like serotonin, which is one thing that’s becoming very common in terms of just a layman language. Serotonin, your overall sense of well being, GABA, gamma amino butyric acid, which is another neurotransmitter that helps you to calm yourself in a timely manner.

And you mentioned dopamine. Dopamine is your “oh all is well with the world, we won the lottery, I’m feeling so wonderful, I’m walking on sunshine.” All of those are extremely important for a balance of feelings and functions and emotions, the whole nine yards of that. But, they cannot really be made if there’s no zinc around. It’s critical for that last step before the conversion into a neurotransmitter. So it really does need to be around. Most, I can’t think of very many exceptions at all, of people that we’ve tested at Mensa Medical where when depression and anxiety were around, or something called anhedonia, just an inability to enjoy much of anything. Their neurotransmitters seem to be in low supply. But why were they? They did not have enough building blocks on board to make those neurotransmitters. One of the critical elements is zinc. So that’s where it plays another role.

Zinc and Copper: zinc is required to make glutathione and metallothionein, our bodies master antioxidants.

The Role of Zinc in Alzheimer’s Disease

Super important. Yes. And what about zinc’s role in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, which is another big area that you work in, in your clinic?

I’d love to talk about that, because there has been some really bad information that, “Oh, we’ve noticed that in the brain, so those people who have Alzheimer’s disease or something close to it, and dementia, basically, there seem to be a large amount of accumulation of zinc in the brain. So zinc must be the cause, part of the problem. There’s an accumulation of it in the brain.” Well, in actuality, what the body is trying to do is accumulate enough zinc in an area to stimulate the metallothionein such that the elements once again, the minerals that are there can be balanced. And so when they do these postmortems, and they’re trying to figure out what’s going on there, why there’s so much zinc there. It’s there because the brain, for all reasons of trying to hold on to some level of stability, was trying to activate something to actually help it.

I keep saying that your brain kind of works like a battery, it does. And everyone has had a battery before. You stick it in a toy, you put it in a product, whatever it is for it to work, right? Well, why is that what’s in there? The majority of what’s in there is actually very akin to what is inside of a brain cell, what is inside of a gut cell, such that that cell has the fuel and the energy to perform and work and do what it’s supposed to do. And so then as long as what those items in there are in their appropriate proportions, the battery will function. What happens when the battery starts to die and loses its potency? Well, you are starting to degrade, break down, lose whatever power there is because the minerals and metals inside are no longer adequate, and are out of their proportions for optimal functioning. That is how we work. You know, and your brain particularly works that way. Because, you have to think about it, your brain is what? It’s a chemical, as well as conducts electrical activity. It’s an electrical chemical organ. And just like you don’t walk up to a socket with a copper wire and stick it in there. Because you know you’re going to fry. I say copper wire. It plays a role in the conduction of electricity.

So now let’s talk about too much in a brain that’s already an electrical chemical to begin with. Let’s talk about short circuiting processes, whether they’re emotional, or whether they are processing information, like doing the math question. If you short circuit that process, because you are out of balance, you don’t get an answer, you get a wrong or stimulated response. Your emotions might be who knows where, but probably inadequate or overblown. Simply because there’s an off balance of something. And copper is a major player in terms of conductivity. Things need to be in balance. Zinc, people want to say, “Well, you know, zinc, copper and it is supposed to have this relationship of one to one.” Yeah, if they are both normal levels. Your copper is just making up a number if it’s 200. Does that mean your zinc is supposed to be 200? No, you know, if your copper level is a 70, does it mean your zinc is supposed to be a 70? No, because they have different reference ranges of normal.

Zinc Encourages Postpartum Recovery

I’m so glad you said that. Because I think that’s another area where people are getting really confused and trying to self-treat and not understanding the relationships that occur between these two. And again, you know, we said this last time when we were talking about copper, but copper isn’t bad. Okay, it’s important, and we’re going to talk about that in a bit. But it’s a necessary part of our bodily processes. However, when it gets overloaded or elevated, or what we call copper toxic, that’s when things start to become problematic. Another thing I was thinking of while you’re speaking, Dr. Bowman, is postpartum depression and psychosis, we know that’s copper overload. And zinc is really an important part of helping females recover.

Zinc is required for postpartum recovery to balance high copper. Click To Tweet

Absolutely, I have to go to the extreme examples just to give an illustration. I have not seen one yet in terms of people who had postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis where zinc was adequate. And in terms of copper, it’s always been very, very extreme. I keep thinking and trying to go back to zero in on an exception, but I have not seen one yet. So if you’ve got a person who’s got a copper overload, and they just had a baby, maybe it’s the third one, that’s just a typical presentation. They’ve had the third child and copper levels, they cannot quite get those back down to normal for whatever physiologic or genetic predisposition there is. Then that accumulates. And so once again, what is happening is like walking up to a plug and sticking a copper wire in it and watching yourself fry. Only, it’s a brain fry. It’s a brain fry. That’s what it is. And so when you have that, there is no processing information.

All there is bad stuff to put it simply. There’s no figuring out anything, nothing makes sense. In fact, the person is absolutely miserable, at the pit of despair or simply cannot process, to the extent that they’re going to do something crazy, as people call it. It could be walking off of a building. It could be shooting the children. It could be driving your car to the White House, you know. It could be any of those things when it’s called, I can’t process information, because I have copper overload. And here’s another one. Because of that, I don’t know if you knew this, there’s not a brain cell that really touches another brain cell that’s conducting an electric response. Because they would short out. Okay. And so however, if you get these, I call them copper little gang members hanging out at the corner, this is where you can get into trouble. So what we want to do is have everyone, and females this becomes extremely important, but everybody needs that balance such that they can have appropriate functioning.

Copper is important. We need it, you’re not going to live without it, I guarantee. It’s a part of the major physiology that goes on with so many processes. But anything that’s an overload is a problem. Things can be deficient, or things can be an overload. And once again, we kind of come right back to the story of balance. And I will tell you this, we have had some patients who were in the school of “Well, you got to balance things with copper, my zinc levels like this, my copper level has to be like that, because it looks like it’s a little low.” They have ended up in the psych ward in the emergency room, from a really sympathetic nervous system firing an overload and misprocessing all kinds of hypersensitivity issues, to put it like that. And I know there’s a lot of commercials out there, I know there’s a lot of advice in terms of, well take a little bit of copper, you know, it’s gonna do well. Yeah, it’ll rev you up a little higher than when coffee would more than likely. But you’ll also fry yourself a little bit. Nerves also have a time course, when they live and die, you know. You keep zapping them, and you will wear them out. You will, and not just them in and of themselves.

But since your sympathetic nervous system is so much on fire because there’s too much say copper around igniting it and turning everything into adrenaline, you’re going to eventually run out and experience adrenal fatigue like none other. And so a lot of fatigue comes with that including, I’m going to have to throw this in there, the catch all term fibromyalgia very much so happens to be a reason that the systems have been kind of overloaded over a period of time and everything is hypersensitive. You can’t touch someone, they hurt. They hurt in 11 out of 18 places as a criteria. Well, it’s a catch all term that doesn’t explain what really is happening. And for many of our patients, the fibromyalgia actually translates into a copper overload. That’s where a lot of it is. Not for everybody, but that tends to be the case.

Zinc and Copper: zinc is important in postpartum recovery because copper rises with pregnancy and often does not normalize post-pregnancy.

Yes, I’m glad you brought this up. We did talk about this specifically last time, so I’m glad you brought it up again. It’s actually been quite a decent number of patients that have ended up in the ER from taking copper. People will come to us with their hair analysis results and say, “Oh, look, my copper is low. So I thought, well, I’ll just add some copper to my diet,” and then all of a sudden they can’t function anymore.

You know, it’s funny, because that’s really quite the opposite way to look at it. And so here what we do is, by the time we do a hair, urine and blood, we kind of have a good picture of how you metabolize anything. But in terms of a hair analysis, one has to be extremely well trained and very careful about how you read it because most things that you see may represent just the opposite of what you think. Hair is a waste product, and there’s a lot of copper in the system. Let’s try to get that out of there. It’s one way that it gets out. It doesn’t mean that you have low copper, but at least your system recognizes that you need to get rid of it, as opposed to having it accumulate over time. You know, when zinc is actually elevated, we don’t like that at all. And so that translates a little differently than what most people think. Everything is not a direct correlation at all.

So glad you said that. I’m just going to add to that, I hear people saying that serum copper and plasma zinc aren’t good markers for looking at levels.

So you have to ask, “Why do you know that? And why is it that we think that this is the way it is because we’ve done every single experiment to figure out what the best representative level of zinc would be, plasma versus a whole blood versus serum?” Absolutely. And by the way, this resource goes back probably more than 60 years at this point, okay. And so there’s certain things that you can’t calculate or can calculate, based on what form it is you have. It’s one of those things that’s been tried and true. A lot of folks that are doing things out there are trying to figure out what we already know, what they think is happening. When for us, it’s like, we know what’s going on.

I think people don’t really know that or understand that. So I’m so glad that you brought that up.

They don’t and until you really tell them, I’m not sure that they would understand. Eventually, a lot of folks are coming full circle and finally realizing that the information that we provided earlier, wow, it’s actually true.

How Does Zinc Help the Immune System?

Why try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. So I’m glad you brought that up. Let’s talk about zinc as an anti-inflammatory. Most people know this. Most people know that zinc supports the immune system. It also deregulates viral replication. And I really want to make sure that people understand what this means. It’s important protection against all viruses, including corona viruses.

Stop it in its tracks, but you have to have enough zinc on board to do so. You know, not just coronavirus as it becomes more important that we have something in our face with this pandemic to start looking at what can really help us. But I have not seen one authority that hasn’t said, “Well, you have to have zinc.” So whether they’re bacterial, whether they’re viral, or anything else that’s out there. Something that stimulates your immune system is going to require zinc to be a part of the party.

What I’m thinking of, Dr. Bowman, when I hear you share that is our amazing frontline doctors. Have they included copper in their treatment protocols? No. They’ve all used zinc in their COVID-19 protocols. So again, I want people to understand, you’re never going to hear one of these doctors, you’re not going to hear our doctors, Dr. Mensah and Dr. Bowman say, “Let’s just give people high doses of copper to support their immune systems”, because you’re gonna get the opposite effect. I promise you, you will get the opposite effect. And you will not feel good at all.

No, let me tell you something else. So this whole balance with copper and zinc is kind of a seesaw sort of scenario. If there’s an accumulation of one, it tends to suppress the other. So if you have high numbers with copper, a lot of it, that tends to suppress zinc, you know, the levels tend to go down. Once again, we’re looking for a balance, not one over the other necessarily. But if I had to pick, I’d rather pick zinc to be the top guy, because that’s also going to suppress the accumulating effect of copper. And I don’t know that they’re telling everybody when they, you know, if you look up the role of copper, in terms of say tumor angiogenesis, and this is close to my heart here in terms of what copper, what other things copper can do in excess.

Zinc deregulates viral replication. Click To Tweet

Well, we like the fact that you need copper for the production of blood vessels. So it’s important in pregnancy that copper comes on board into roles, because it’s the physiology that’s involved with that requires that to be there so that the baby can grow and develop. However, in a person, say who’s not pregnant, who’s just a naturally high copper female, let’s say. That takes her risk levels up for tumor production and anything that causes the production of blood vessels, including tumors, which has to be supplied by blood vessels. That puts them at risk for tumor growth, or malignancies or neoplasms, whatever you want to call them, and we don’t like that. So if a person already has a high risk of tumor growth or cancer or whatever it is, the idea is to keep copper at a level that is normalized. Anything that’s a really high level of copper is going to support cancer.

It really will, simply by producing or helping blood vessels form that support the tumor growth. I mean, why do you want to do that? Once upon a time, and once again it’s been lost in terms of information, part of cancer therapy at some point in time used to utilize something called tetrathiomolybdate. Molybdenum is the actual element that’s the front loader here. That’s one of those elements that tends to grab on to copper and help it to go away. And at one point in time, we were actually using that as a part of the protocol to keep copper levels as low as they possibly could, so that the production of blood vessels would not continue to feed tumor growth.

What Are the Symptoms of Copper Overload?

I’m really glad you said that, Dr. Bowman, because in Episode 10, we talked about copper and women’s health. And you just shared with us some examples of that manifesting, specifically in a female with breast cancer, fibroids, uterine fibroids, cysts, you know, again, tumor development. Especially women that really have horrific menstrual cycles, PMS, PMDD, things like that, you would never want to give one of these women copper because it make them psychotic, if they’re not already psychotic a couple of weeks out of the month.

And when you think about it, let’s go and talk about some of the therapies for some people who have breast cancer. They’re doing what? They’re giving them medications, usually after their either radiation therapy or lumpectomies are over or whatever. They’re giving them estrogen receptor blockers. Okay. Why is that? Well, you have competition with a blocker in place like that. Then the effects of something, that’s estrogen, let me just back up a little bit. Estrogen is related to, from a physiological standpoint, copper tends to come in, with permission for copper to be accumulated in a female. And so if you have an estrogen receptor blocker, then what you’re doing is blocking the effects of what estrogen can do. Okay, estrogen can keep copper continually accumulating. And once again, you can have support for tumor growth, and that’s not what you want. So that’s where the tie in is with estrogen and copper.

You would know better than I, but I’m trying to remember how many cases of patients that we both worked with that had gone through their cancer protocols and were taking their nutrients, but they weren’t really being compliant with their nutrients. And some recurrence starts to appear because they forgot to take their zinc and their other nutrients. And again, that’s that whole seesaw, if you will, between copper and zinc.

In fact when we do the lab work and find that, “uh oh, this copper level is going back up, I’m not liking how this looks.” We don’t need a recurrence here, let’s jump on that. And so, anyway, I don’t like those cases when it happens like that. Being compliant is just really extremely important.

Again, just want to drive home for our listeners, this is why we do what we do. Because this is how important this is to understand these relationships and why zinc would be a part of these patients treatment protocols and the importance of that. When we were talking earlier about postpartum depression, I also was remembering a patient that we’ve had, several of these patients as well, would have excessive bleeding, while giving birth, later would find out that copper is very, very high. Bleeding disorders are also connected to copper overload, is that correct?

Oh, absolutely. That can very well be if you have a great abundance of arterioles, arteries, capillaries or whatever. You know, the abundance, the fact that it’s there just kind of puts you at risk, because if you do bleed, you will bleed. So it’s just as simple as that.

I don’t want to forget Dr. Bowman, pyroluria. We talked about that in episode 23. And, again, when I hear these people say, “Oh, zinc’s bad for you, you’re going to deplete your copper.” Well try telling that to someone with pyroluria.

Let’s kind of talk about what it is if you want to talk about it from a chemical sense. Generally, it’s really an extreme deficiency of zinc and B6 usually, or zinc or B6. Okay. And so this is where really neurotransmitters come into play a little bit more because once again, B6 and zinc kind of being the rate limiting stuff to the production of neurotransmitters translates into not having enough chemical fortitude, I’ll call it, to be able to manage stress. So it’s a disease, if you want to call it a disease, as a condition of stress intolerance. You can just barely manage that. Because you have become pyroluric. What your body does when you’re under stress, it tries to do everything it can to help you manage it. In that so called “everything that it can” means that it is depleting you of what should be in abundance. Once you’re down to almost nothing, what do you have left to produce neurotransmitters that are going to be beneficial to you? You don’t have enough serotonin for an overall sense of well being. Oh, and from a five sense standpoint, anything that is sensory seems to be a little overblown and everything bothers you. So until you can, guess what, put zinc and B6 back on board in amounts that are going to be beneficial you may stay in a pyro state.

Is Zinc Good for Hair, Skin, and Nails?

Again, for our listeners, that’s Episode 23, where Dr. Bowman and I talked. We did a deep dive into Pyrrole disorder or pyroluria. So please go back and listen to that episode so you can learn more about the ins and outs of that stress disorder. What’s the one thing that you wish people would ask about zinc and don’t?

I always think of immune system health, but I always think of neurotransmitter regulation. I really do. And also, there’s some things that are very important, hair, skin and nails. Okay, I know that sounds on the weaker side when nevertheless, people are very concerned about those kinds of things.

Yes, especially acne, where acne is concerned, zinc can really help with that. Premature graying of the hair is definitely zinc deficiency. Even though people, I see these lists online and they say, “Oh, that’s a function of copper.” No, actually, it’s zinc deficiency. And we see that a lot, again, in Pyrrole disorder. So, if we’re gonna get into a little bit more of the vanity of it, and we can look at zinc as kind of a beauty treatment, if you will.

You also touched on a few things. Sexual function is very important. Potency for those guys who want to think about erectile dysfunction, you want to make sure that your zinc level is on board, where it needs to be. That’s problematic, you know, and even in terms of fertility on both sides.

Yes, I’m so glad you brought that up. I always want to remind people that the highest concentrations of zinc are in the prostate gland and in the brain. And we always want our wonderful parents to think about getting healthy and getting their chemistry checked and balanced before conception for both mom and dad. We want that on board, because that can really diminish, significantly diminish, especially if both parents are undermethylated like I am, the chances of autism. Is that correct, Dr. Bowman?

Oh that’s absolutely correct. Yep.

Yes, so critical. I appreciate you going over the importance of zinc and why it’s needed. Again, thank you Dr. Bowman for your time. I’m just so grateful to have you on the show as always.

Well, thank you very much. I’m always here for you.

To zinc or not to zinc? As I shared during my time with Dr. Bowman, I’ve personally been taking zinc daily for over a decade now, and wouldn’t be where I am today without it. So I hope our conversation answered your questions and concerns about the importance of zinc and how it impacts copper.

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1 thought on “EP 47: Does Zinc Supplementation Deplete Copper? with Dr. Judith Bowman”

  1. Great podcast! Can you please lead me a published study on zinc deficiency and premature graying of the hair? I can’t seem to find anything and since you mention it in your podcast I assume you have a citable source. Thank you.

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