Thyroid Disorders Community
Copper/Ferritin deficiency, low cortisol, high glucose and Hashimoto&#x...
About This Community:

This patient support community is for discussions relating to thyroid issues, goiter, Graves disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Human Growth Hormone (HGH), hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, metabolism, parathyroid, pituitary gland, thyroiditis, and thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Font Size:
Blank Blank

Copper/Ferritin deficiency, low cortisol, high glucose and Hashimoto's/Hypothyroid

I added the test to my labs because I saw a marked increase in gray hair. It turned out I have a deficiency. My levels were 60 (range is ug/dL 80-155). I also started going gray in my mid 20's after having Alopetia Areata. I saw that there's a connection with low copper and low white blood cell count (which I don't have).

I'm a vegetarian and eat plenty of nuts, but eat other copper rich foods. I have been supplementing almost daily for a month and it's only increased to 65. My Zinc is within range at 78 (range ug/dL 60-120). My Ferritin is also low at 7 (range ng/mL 11-307). My vitamin C (which helps iron absorb) is in range at 1.1 (range mg/dL 0.4-2.0).

My a.m. cortisol is also low at 8.4 and range is (7.7 - 22.6 ug/dL). B12 and D also in range, but low - I'll supplement these, copper and iron.

Is there any connection between these or these and hypothyroid, autoimmune disease or other conditions?

Is a blood test for copper reliable? Is it anything to worry about? I don't have symptoms of Wilson's disease except for a recent puffy belly, but I think that might be related to glucose. Doctor didn't tell me this, but it seems from my labs that I am prediabetic with glucose at 101 (range 70-99).
Related Discussions
18 Comments Post a Comment
I should really double check before I hit the post button, but I never do.

The important piece of information in the first paragraph is Copper. I have low copper despite taking 150% US RDA.

I'm wondering where all the copper is going (towards another disease or helping with one?) or why I'm not absorbing it?

I also have low D, low B12 and low Iron. I understand these deficiencies a little bit better than I do the Copper deficiency.

In a addition, my a.m. Cortisol is low, but in range and my Glucose is high (pre diabetic from what I read online, but my doctor didn't mention this at all.
Have you been tested for celiac's disease?

Alopecia Areata And Celiac Disease...

"In fact, the doctors did find a relatively high rate of celiac disease in their patients - much greater than could be expected by chance. On the basis of this study, the doctors recommended that celiac disease antibody testing should be performed in all patients with alopecia areata."

The Celiac/Autoimmune Thyroid Connection...

"According to research reported on in the medical journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, a significant number of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease also have celiac disease."

Celiac's disease causes changes in the bowel that makes it less able to absorb nutrients, minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Anaemia may develop due to iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 malabsorption.  Calcium and vitamin D malabsorption (and compensatory secondary hyperparathyroidism) may cause osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Muscle cramping and weakness can be due to poor absorption and low levels of potassium and magnesium.  Magnesium has been found to regulate and improve blood sugar control.  "Magnesium plays a pivotal role in the secretion and function of insulin; without it, diabetes mellitus is inevitable." - Dr Dean - author of "The Magnesium Miracle".

Deficiency of copper develops with increased frequency in patients with celiac disease, unlike the general population.  Tests for copper deficiency involve blood analysis of copper and ceruloplasmin levels although these tests are not always reliable.  Just to add, Wilson disease is caused by a buildup of copper in the body not a deficiency of copper. :)
Thanks for your reply.

I've been tested for Celiac Disease twice (negative) and have had Alopecia Areata about 14 years ago when I was in my mid/late 20's. I also tested positive for thyroid anti-bodies at that time, but that information was some how lost since I moved countries. I have recently obtained part of my medical records that confirms the diagnosis of asymptomatic Hashimoto's. I wasn't asymptomatic since I had already become depressed, but my TSH was normal and tha's what they wrote.

I just had some nutrition blood labs done and Calcium, Magnesium, A, C, Zinc were fine, but I"m below range for Ferretin, Copper. Vitamin D is also in range because I've been heavily supplementing and will continue to supplement until it's in the upper range. Vitamin B12 is also in range, but very low so I will supplement. I've also had low B12 during the time of Alopetia and found thyroid antibodies and got injections for eight weeks then.

The muscle cramping has gotten a lot better and that could be due to the addition of T3, supplementing with copper and D or to something else, but it's a lot better. I would say it's no longer a symptom.

As far as the copper goes. I thought Wilson's because your organs store so it appears low in your blood, but I don't have symptoms for that. I've read that sometimes low copper looks like iron deficiency anemia and can that copper is necessary for proper iron absorption or use and that C helps your body absorb non-heme iron. I just don't know why I'm deficient since I'm a vegetarian and it's present in a lot of the foods I eat.

Also the high blood glucose and low a.m. cortisol has me a little worried. Would kicking coffee help a lot or enough? Is exercise the best medicine in this case?

Thanks again for your help
High glocose can be a result of thyroid levels being off kilter - or at least it can have some affect on it. I proved this on myself.
A lot of soils are becoming depleted of minerals, therefore, even foods, supposedly high in certain minerals, are not any longer, so we don't always get what we need from our food.  

Cooking and refining also tends to deplete copper content in foods; and taking certain medications, such as antacids inhibits absorption of copper.

In Wilson's Disease, copper is deposited in organs, not  necessarily "stored" there.  From what I've read, Wilson's Disease presents with high copper levels, not deficient.

Seafood, such as oysters, squid, lobster, mussels, crab, and clams are the best sources of copper, with calf's liver hanging right in there with them.  You must have a proper balance of zinc and manganese in order to absorb copper.

In high amounts, copper can be toxic.
"High glocose can be a result of thyroid levels being off kilter - or at least it can have some affect on it."

It's interesting that you say that because I've been wondering the same thing! My thyroid levels has been off kilter for some time.

My glucose in 2007 and 2008 was in the 70's. In 2009 with my TSH at 63, it was in the high 90's and now it's gone to 101. I think because I've not been properly medicated and I needed T3 which was just recently added. For the past two years, I've sometimes had FT3 below range.

I was just wondering how you proved this on yourself? Did you experience the same/similar thing? Did your glucose levels improve with improved TSH, FT3 or FT4?

As always, thank you for your reply
I'm a vegetarian. At this point I wish I wasn't :(

I eat a lot of cashews, spinach, kale etc and there's copper in so many other things I eat that I just don't understand what's going on. I'm also amazed that I've been supplementing copper daily for a month and it's hardly budged. It went for 60 to 65 and the range is 80-155. My Zinc is 78 range is 60-120. Manganese wasn't tested, but I'll be sure to ask for it next time - thanks.

The other thing I don't understand is the difference between iron and ferritin.

My Ferritin is 7 range is 11-307, but my serum iron is 79 range is 28-170. The doctor seemed hesitant to recommend supplementing with iron. He didn't even tell me how to supplement. e.g. what kind to get, what strength etc.

On a side note, I've also been taking a B-complex. I really rather get everything from food, but something's are just not working out that way.

You're right - Wilson's Disease is too much copper, but low serum copper. I'm pretty sure it's not that anyway and my doctor doesn't seem concerned with it. He did mention that low cortisol could be Addison's disease last visit and he mentioned autoimmune this past visit, but I'm still in range so nothing's done. How does low cortisol relate to thyroid if it does? I do get stressed very easily for a few years now. I hope it and I get better.

I'm amazed at how much you (and you guys) know here and grateful for your willingness to help
I watched my fasting glucose levels starting to elevate a few years ago as detected on my yearly physical lab results. That was also when my thyroid was causing all kinds of other medical problems. People with autoimmune thyroid are at high risk for developing 2 more autoimmune health issues / diseases. Three's company.  I have Hashimoto and vitaligo. One of the diabetes is autoimmune (forget which one).

I have almost always gotten way more exercise than average , yet glucose went into pre-diabetic range. My reg Dr didn't seem to care, since I wasn't diabetic YET!. I brought it to my endos attention. At the time my thyroid was way out of whack, I was getting thyroid labs every 4 weeks for a while along with glucose every other visit.

My glucose has improved with improved thyroid levels recently even though I was not at my peak level of fitness. Coincidence? I get way more exercise than the average person, but my glucose levels seem to be more reflective from thyroid levels than fitness level - contrary to what Drs preach. There have been times at my peak fitness level (end of winter) when my glucose was still in pre-diabetic range -  I was also still slightly hypo.

In the past I also self policed my sugar and carb intake, and used several natural supplements known to sometimes lower glucose. Didn't do much compared to improved glucose levels after proper thyroid levels were achieved.

All I can think of is that everything in the body is affected by thyroid hormone, pancreas included. The link between sleep quality and glucose levels is also well documented by sleep doctors. When hypo, REM can be non-existent. One hour of REM can equal three hours of non-REM sleep patterns. I sleep better now - also from thyroid levels. This doesn't mean everyone's glucose will react like mine, we are all individuals. But it's certainty not a waste of time to compare the two.

Something to ponder.
Type I diabetes is the autoimmune one; type II often correlates with lifestyle, such as being overweight, eating foods that aren't good for us, etc. I've been hovering in the pre-diabetic range  myself for some time.  My former pcp wouldn't even look at my blood sugar record and I haven't talked to my endo about it.  With insurance the way it is, I hate to have another "pre-existing" condition to deal with.

Sissaphus - ferritin stores iron, so your body can use it later.  It's directly related to the amount of iron stored in your body.  Your iron level is less than range.  I'm not sure whether it would take a while to deplete the iron or not. Your ferritin level indicates that you have little to no iron stored in your body.

I don't know how long it should take copper supplements to raise your levels, but if you are supplementing and your levels aren't coming up, I'd have to wonder if you have an absorption issue.  It might be helpful to switch to liquid or sublingual vitamins/minerals.

I've suspected that you're not lazy LazyMoose ;)

I've had two other autoimmune conditions - Alopecia Areata and Dermograhism. I hope it stops there, but signs say no - it won't.

I've been under medicated for at least a year but have now added Cytomel 10 to Tirosint 100 for the past two or so months. So some of my recent problems with very low (but in range) a.m. cortisol, low Ferritin, high glucose etc. may very well be a result of too little medication this past year and needing the addition of T3 all along.

My new problem is that I've started having increased and loose bowel movements and incredibly velvety skin (on my face). I used to have very nice skin before going completely hypo, but I haven't seen that for a long time. I don't know weather or not I should cut back on Cytomel to 7.5 rather than 10?  Maybe Cytomel 7.5 would make my  TSH of .06 go up enough to keep my doctor "happy" and it will be enough for me to have continued symptom relief without the possibility of going hyper?

I don't doubt (now) that some of the symptoms I attributed to hypothyroid could have been, at least in part, related to my deficiencies. Maybe once my (known) nutritional deficiencies are corrected my body will do a better job at converting T4 to T3 and my glucose levels and cortisol levels will also improve.
I'm sorry you're hovering there too and I can see that you're not overweight and think you know what to eat/what's good for you so I believe you eat healthily. I generally do as well although I'm pretty inactive. So, I'm going to try and change that as best I can. Yesterday I walked for three hours and it felt nice that my muscles didn't hurt after and I slept like a baby.

I've seen a correlation with Diabetes Type 1 and Alopecia Areata also.

I can look for old labs and see what's been happening with Ferritin. Do you mind if I post them here?

I've found that the copper/zinc ratio is 0.7 to 1.0 so despite the copper deficiency I have a good ratio and will supplement with zinc so I don't mess that up. Sad that my doctor doesn't tell me any of this. I think he doesn't know himself. He is very nice and I like him a lot, doctors don't seem to pay as much attention to nutrition as they should.

That's a great idea about liquid or sublingual. I got a mineral blend because it was mentioned for "Adrenal Fatigue" and I have a.m. cortisol, but I've been hesitant to take it. Always worried about throwing other things out of order, but maybe I should start while trying to track down liquid copper.

Please can you give your opinion on reducing to Cytomel 7.5 if you can? Will taking Cytomel negatively affect cortisol or glucose? Maybe I'm still in my adjustment period and should just leave it alone until my next labs at the end of December? I just don't think my doctor would agree to such a small change, but this change might be enough to raise my TSH and keep him happy while things for me continue to improve and eventually stabilize. I'm going to decide by Saturday since that still leaves four weeks till blood work.

Thanks again Barb135
Actually, I am overweight, but I'd managed to lose about 10 pounds over a couple months, and I thought I was headed in the right direction, but over the past week, I've gained back about 7 of them; not sure what's going on. Part of it might be that since I'm now retired, I don't get as much exercise as I did when I was working, in spite of the fact that I walk for at least 45 minutes daily. I'm having a lot of swelling in feet and hands, too, so am sure that has some to do with it, as well. Gotta quit spending so much time on MH and get back to my yoga............. lol

I've seen liquid copper at The Vitamin Shoppe, if you have one of those near you. I don't know what's in your liquid mineral blend, but you have to be careful of some things; minerals is probably okay, but a lot of products that say they are for Adrenal Fatigue, have herbs in them that can react to medications, so do be careful.

Can you refresh my memory on your FT levels?  I could go find the post, but unlike LazyMoose, I really do get lazy sometimes...  LOL.   I'm not sure that dropping the cytomel by 2.5 mcg will make that much of a difference to your TSH.  Somehow, you may just have to keep convincing your doctor that you aren't hyper.
You're not Overweight with a big O.

In my case, I believe there's a correlation with my thyroid being off - like LazyMoose said. I have gained 15 lbs recently and my doctor could tell me that it's contributing to my raise in glucose (and it may be), but my glucose started rising when my TSH was first found elevated (TSH 63) and I weighed 122 lbs at 5'3. I'm still in the "normal" weight range. I just don't think it's the reason for me (and maybe not the reason for you?).

I did start eating a lot of bread, cakes and high glycemic foods a few months before my thyroid took a nosedive and that  has continued for a few years until recently. I've been tested for celiac and all test come back negative. I'm going to cut back anyway.

IGA Serum 138          66-436 (is this the test for Celiac?)

My feet and ankles swell and or my shins itch when I drink alcohol, eat a lot of pasta, bread or cakes. The swelling just started this year, but the itching started a year and a half ago.

About low Adrenals. I got Colloida Life Trace Minerals and Electrolytes - not specific to Adrenals - and I got Jarrow Adrenal Optimizer, but haven't taken that either.

You're right - I'm not going to drop the Cytomel dose. I'm going to give it more time. It's just my BM have gotten "frequent" and my face feels like velvet. I haven't lost any weight which to be honest isn't more important to me than feeling good/better.

TSH 0.06     0.40-4.00
FT4  1.0       0.6-1.6
FT3   3.4      2.4-4.2 (3.4 with range 210-440 was a mistake)

My labs were done at 9 am. I didn't take Tirosint or Cytomel before the labs. I usually take Tirosint at 7am and Cytomel 5 at 8 am (then again at 2pm).

Here are a few other labs that were off besides B12, D (still in range) and Copper (low)
test              result      range
Serum Iron 79           28-170
% Saturation 19.6       24 - 44
Ferritin        7             11-307
Cortisol       8.4           7.7-22.6 am level
Glucose       101          70-99
Anion Gap  4               5-15

A few other things looked close to the bottom, but still in range like Sodium.

I saw ages ago that there's a yoga pose that's supposed to be beneficial for thyoid. I'll look for it and send it to you. You're invaluable here Barb, but if it's a choice between the two then get your mat out :)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Yes, I'm overweight, with a big O........... lol

Yoga is excellent for the entire body; I used to do it on a daily basis and while it didn't do a lot for weight loss (except Yoga for Weight Loss), my muscles were much more toned and flexible.

Bit of quick research and I find several different poses that are supposed to be good for the thyroid, with the main one being the shoulder pose (or shoulder stand).  Some others are the bridge pose, chin lift and neck rotation, tree pose, cobra pose, and others.  Supposedly, those that fully open the chest area and stretch the neck muscles are good for thyroid.

As far as your blood tests that are off - if it were me, I'd try to resolve one issue at a time and see which symptoms improve or get worse.  In my opinion, it's always a mistake to make 2 or more changes at the same time, because then if you get better, you don't know which change caused the improvement.  Making too many changes, or adding too many supplements, all at once, could prove disastrous.

I've read that when adrenal issues are present, they should be addressed prior to addressing thyroid issues; has your doctor indicated a concern for the low normal cortisol?  That might be a place to start.
Be careful about copper. Serum (blood) levels are NOT reliable. It sounds like you may have a bioavalible copper issue. I recomend reading the artical at:
A copper imbalance can cause a lot of the syndroms (syndromes) you are experiancing. Hope this helps!
Doesn't Dark Chocolate have cooper in it?? :)
Thanks for the link, but I didn't really understand a lot of it. I saw that I have some of the symptoms listed for copper toxicity, but  I have low copper and my zinc and copper ration is in balance (which is good). I have some of the symptoms listed, but they're also symptoms of copper deficiency, anemia and thyroid so it's difficult to figure out what's what. I'm seeing my doctor in a few days and will ask him if it can be tested some other way instead of blood test.
It does, but I guess I don't eat enough of it :)
Post a Comment
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Thyroid Disorders Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
TMJ/TMJ The Connection Between Teet...
Jan 27 by Hamidreza Nassery , DMD, FICOI, FAGDBlank
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm-treatable... Blank
Oct 04 by Lee Kirksey, MDBlank
The 3 Essentials to Ending Emotiona...
Sep 18 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
Top Thyroid Answerers
Queensland, Australia
Sisters, OR
Long Beach