The Link Between Disease and Mineral Excess or Deficiency

Four Minerals: Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium

The relationship between diet and disease has been studied and known for thousands of years with Hippocrates treating foods as medicine.  Slightly more recently, the US Department of Agriculture (1) published a comprehensive study in 1971 relating 124 diseases to improper or inadequate diet.

In this article, we present a synopsis of the link between diseases and symptoms associated with mineral imbalance patterns and ratios involving 4 common minerals; Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium.   For more in-depth understanding of the science behind disease and mineral imbalances, please see the reading suggestions at the end of the article.

Symptoms and diseases involving excess and deficient levels of Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium include: allergies, anemia, arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular irregularities (bradycardia, tachycardia, ECG, etc.), chronic fatigue, colitis, dry skin, excessive bruising, gallbladder obstruction, depression, dermatosis (skin itchiness-rashes), diverticulosis, headaches, adrenal insufficiency, slow thyroid, joint stiffness, liver dysfunction, bleeding gums, calcinosis, calculus, osteoporosis, osteopenia, and renal hypertension.


ALLERGIES AND COPPER:  The mineral copper is a constituent of the enzyme histaminase and the protein ceruloplasmin, both of which have the ability to destroy histamine.  Zinc is required for the storage of histamine.  Since the patient’s zinc level is low to copper, or the tissue copper level is elevated, low serum histamine may be present.  This may result in histamine depletion if chronic.  Low histamine levels have been found in the serum of patients who suffer from allergies to foods and inhalants.

ANEMIA AND EXCESS COPPER RELATIVE TO IRON:  Copper in excess amounts can contribute to iron deficiency anemia, by interfering with iron absorption and decreasing the metabolic activity of iron.  A low iron to copper ratio indicates a trend toward anemia.

BRUISING AND HIGH TISSUE COPPER:  The mineral copper increases the oxidation of vitamin C and may therefore contribute to a relative vitamin C deficiency, or at the very least, increase its requirement.  A lack of vitamin C is associated with increased capillary fragility and bruising.

CHOLESTASIS AND ELEVATED COPPER:  The patient’s test results reveal an excess tissue copper level.  A history of mononucleosis or hepatitis is frequently noted with this HTMA pattern.  Since the mineral copper is normally eliminated via the liver, extrahepatic obstruction (cholestasis) may be present.

DEPRESSION AND HIGH COPPER:  High tissue copper has been associated with an increased incidence of depression, especially in women, often occurring near their menstrual period.  The causative role of excess copper in depression may be due to its producing neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain, or its interfering with other nutrient minerals such as iron, zinc and manganese.

DERMATOSIS AND COPPER:  Copper is known to antagonize the metabolic activity of zinc as well as decrease its absorption.  This may be a contributing factor to copper-induced dermatitis.  Copper toxicity often produces skin rashes that are characterized by red itchy areas occurring on the face, neck, and lower back, on the thighs, and behind the knees.

HEADACHES AND HIGH TISSUE COPPER:  Elevated copper has been implicated in producing headaches, usually occurring in the frontal region.  Copper water pipes may contribute to high tissue copper levels.  The patient’s water may be sent for analysis to determine if it is a source of copper contamination.

HYPOADRENIA AND EXCESS TISSUE COPPER:  Adrenal steroid production effects the regulation of copper excretion.  Excess tissue copper levels indicate an adrenal insufficiency, especially in the slow metabolizer. Adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism frequently occur simultaneously; therefore, evaluation of thyroid function may be appropriate.  Copper toxicity may not be due to excessive exposure, but rather to chronic low exposure and buildup resulting from an inability of elimination.

HYPOTHYROIDISM AND COPPER:  The mineral copper appears to have a suppressing effect upon the thyroid gland.  Excess copper can cause a potassium loss and elevation of tissue calcium.

JOINT STIFFNESS AND HIGH COPPER:  The mineral copper is antagonistic to vitamin C.  This mechanism is related to increased oxidation of ascorbic acid in the presence of excess copper.  Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis.  This pattern (high HTMA copper) may be related to a relative, subclinical vitamin C deficiency.  This could further be related to poor collagen formation.

JOINT STIFFNESS, ELEVATED COPPER AND CALCIUM:  Excess copper increases soft tissue deposition of calcium through a number of endocrine effects.  If calcium deposition occurs within the joints, eventually a decrease in joint mobility can ensue.

LIVER DYSFUNCTION:  High tissue copper levels are associated with decreased liver function.  Copper is stored in the liver and eliminated via the gall bladder.  Excessive accumulation of copper or its removal contributes to liver and gall bladder sluggishness.  This can result in constipation and biliary stone formation due to incomplete emptying of the gall bladder.

PERIODONTAL PROBLEMS AND ELEVATED COPPER:  Excess copper by contributing to the rapid oxidation of vitamin C can contribute to swollen and bleeding gums.

NOTE:  The patient’s test shows a markedly elevated copper level.  Copper contamination can occur from frequently swimming in pools or spas if copper sulfate is used as an algaecide.  If copper is elevated and the patient swims more than twice per week, we suggest that you send fingernail or toenail tissue for testing.  This will help indicate the extent of copper toxicity within the body.  You may also test the serum for elevated copper or ceruloplasm.

Calcium to Magnesium Ratios

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS AND MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY:  Studies have found that dietary magnesium intake is frequently found to be low in individuals with blood sugar disturbances and arteriosclerosis compared to control groups not having these conditions.  Magnesium deficiency relative to calcium indicates poor calcium metabolism.  This patient’s pattern indicates that a tendency exists for calcium deposition into the soft tissues including the arteries.

OSTEOARTHRITIS:  High calcium to magnesium indicates a trend toward soft tissue deposition of calcium.  This can result in hypertrophic osteoarthritic development.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS:  A magnesium deficiency relative to calcium indicates atheromatous development.  If the patient has a high calcium-to-magnesium ratio, it may be a predisposing factor toward atherosclerosis.

CALCULUS FORMATION:  When the calcium-to-magnesium ratio is high, a relative magnesium deficiency exists.  Magnesium is important for normal calcium metabolism.  A magnesium deficiency relative to calcium may cause calcium to precipitate out of solution contributing to calcium deposition in the urinary tract and gall bladder.  Vitamin B-6 along with magnesium aids in preventing calculus formation as a result of calcinosis.

CARDIOVASCULAR IRREGULARITIES:  An imbalance between the normal calcium-to-magnesium relationship can lead to cardiac irregularities such as arrhythmia, bradycardia or tachycardia.  This is especially true if potassium metabolism is disturbed leading to ECG abnormalities.

INSOMNIA AND MAGNESIUM:  Insomnia characterized by going to sleep but awakening frequently is associated with an increased magnesium requirement.  The person who tosses and turns at night, even though he may be unaware of it, could be suffering from an increased need for magnesium.

INSOMNIA:  Two types of insomnia should be distinguished in order to determine effective treatment.

COLITIS:  Calcium and magnesium are necessary in a proper balance for normal muscular function.  An elevation of calcium to magnesium is associated with a colitis-like condition.  If calcium is elevated relative to magnesium, it may contribute to muscular tension.

DIVERTICULITIS:  A disturbance in the normal balance of calcium and magnesium can result in abnormal muscular contraction and relaxation.

The present pattern indicates a possible disturbance in intestinal motility, and inflammation.  This may be associated with some form of intestinal disturbance, such as diverticulitis.

Sodium to Potassium Ratios

DEPRESSION:  A low tissue sodium-to-potassium ratio is related to many emotional changes including depression.  A low sodium-to-potassium ratio may also be related to phobias, withdrawal, repression and indecision.

RENAL HYPERTENSION: High blood pressure is often seen when a low sodium-to-potassium ratio exists.  This is especially true when magnesium is low to calcium and is related to renal hypertension.

Calcium to Potassium Ratios

HYPOADRENIA: Low tissue sodium and potassium relative to calcium and magnesium is associated with adrenal insufficiency.  This may result in low blood pressure, postural hypotension and fatigue.

FATIGUE:  High calcium to potassium is associated with an underactive thyroid.  Fatigue is often a common complaint associated with low thyroid function.

DEPRESSION AND HYPOTHYROIDISM: An elevation of calcium relative to potassium is associated with hypothyroidism.  Depression is often seen when a concomitant hypothyroid condition exists.

HYPOTHYROID:  High calcium relative to potassium indicates a tendency toward a low thyroid function.  It has been found that an elevated TSH, even when circulating T3 and T4 are normal, is an early indication of hypothyroidism.


DRY SKIN AND ELEVATED CALCIUM:  Moisture of the skin is dependent upon adequate fluid retention in the cells.  Excess calcium can cause a loss of cell fluid content or dehydration, thereby contributing to dry skin.

PREMATURE AGING OF THE SKIN AND CALCIUM:  Excess calcium deposition into soft tissue can reduce the normal fluid content of cells.  This can then produce dryness, thickening and wrinkling of the skin, which is related to signs of premature aging.

OSTEOPOROSIS AND CALCIUM:  Even though high tissue calcium is present in the slow metabolizer, an osteoporotic condition can still be a potential risk.  Increased parathyroid activity will increase bone resorption and decrease calcium solubility.  Therefore, calcium that is removed from the bone may not be entirely eliminated, resulting in a trend toward osteoporosis and calcinosis of soft tissues.

Know Precisely What Your Body Needs… It’s In Your BNA”

To learn more about how these four minerals may interact inside you, please refer to your BioCorrect Nutrition™ Analysis (BNA) report or order your BNA today.

The BioCorrect Nutrition™ Analysis is a medically-proven, clinical laboratory test that measures 36 trace and toxic minerals in a patient’s hair sample.  These correspond to an individual’s biochemical and metabolic status.  From the millions of patients tested over the past 30+ years, much has been further studied and learned about the interactions of these minerals with vitamins, enzymes, hormones and other biochemical processes.

References and Additional Suggested Reading:

  1. Meir, Edith C., PhD, et al. Evaluation of Research in the United States on Human Nutrition report #2 (Benefits from Nutrition Research) prepared by a joint task group of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, Issued August 1971
  2. Tefft, GH. Your Personal Life. Westlake Village, CA: Angel Mind, 2006
  3. Tefft, GH. For Your Body Only: Discover the Diet You Were Born to Eat. Dragon Door Publications, 2003
  4. Tefft, GH, Tefft, L. How To Fix The Broken Healthcare System.  Createspace, 2018
  5. Watts, D.L. “Commonly Asked Questions About Hair Mineral Analysis.” US: Trace Elements, 1999
  6. Watts, D.L. Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients. T.E.I., 1995

These statements have not been directly evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease as a substitution for standard medical care.

About the Author:

Dr. Greg Tefft, Board Certified Naturopath (A.N.M.A.), Doctorate in Chiropractics (L.A.C.C./S.C.U.) and Triple-Crown Natural Mr. America is “America’s Leader in Personalized Nutrition.” Dr. Tefft is a best-selling author, pioneered the lab-guided, personalized nutrition system at Malibu Health and Rehab in the 80’s and 90’s, member of the 1984 Olympic Team Sports Medicine Staff, and is the co-founder and Chief Science Officer (CSO) of BioCorrect Nutrition.

Subscribe and Get Healthy!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. We will keep you informed with healthy tips and product news from BioCorrect Nutrition. And we promise not to sell your information. That would be rude!

Thank you for subscribing