Calculate Zinc, Copper and Ceruloplasmin ratios from blood tests

Following on from my recent post about the issues with copper overload, I wanted to share this information about how to calculate ratios of Zinc, Copper, Ceruloplasmin from blood tests as I have found it helpful. It allowed me to confirm my suspicion that copper may have been causing a lot of my symptoms by allowing me to work out how much unbound copper was floating around in my body as well as my zinc/copper ratio that it can cause pyrrole disorder copper toxicity.

Now I want to explain before you go ahead and use this, that this apparently isn’t an exact science at all. The level of copper showing in blood tests may not provide a completely accurate picture as apparently copper can be stored deep in the tissues, wreaking all sorts of havoc, while at the same time making the copper levels in your blood look normal or even low.

hair sample for testing zinc copper
A hair test may be more accurate

Hair testing could be an alternate solution

The testing of hair, according to Anne Gittlemen in her book Why Am I Always So Tired?, can be more accurate in some cases, but still the results may still not paint a true picture until treatment has begun and copper begins to be moved out of the tissues and into the blood.

From what I understand of this, it is the unbound copper that is the number that is useful as well as the zinc/copper ratio. I would highly recommend anyone looking for more information about this disorder request to join the group as there is plenty of helpful information and support to be found there.

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What calculations you need to do following blood tests for Serum or Plasma Zinc, Copper and Ceruloplasmin.

Firstly, we need to get the three measurements into the same units, ug/dL (micrograms per decilitre):

  • If your results were given in g/L multiply by 100,000 to get ug/dL.
  • If your results were given in mg/dL, multiply by 1,000 to get ug/dL.
  • If your results were given in mg/L multiply by 100 to get ug/dL.
  • If your results were given in ug/L, divide by 10 to get ug/dL.
  • If your results were given in ng/mL, divide by 10 to get ug/dL. 1)

1) Zinc If your results were given in umol/L, divide by 0.153 to get ug/dL

2) Copper If your results were given in umol/L, divide by 0.157 to get ug/dL

3) Ceruloplasmin Results are usually given in mg/dL or g/L. Convert to ug/dL as above notes.Now calculate the ratios, etc.

4) Calculate the Copper:Zinc ratio, divide Copper (2) by Zinc (1), Reference range is 0.7 to 1.0. (This is a ratio, not ug/dL.)

5) Calculate the amount of Copper bound in Ceruloplasmin, Ceruloplasmin (3) in ug/dL multiplied by 0.003. (Ceruloplasmin is 0.3% Copper by weight)

6) Calculate the amount of Copper not bound in Ceruloplasmin, Total Copper (2) in ug/dL minus Copper bound to Ceruloplasmin (5). Reference range is 5 to 15ug/dL

7) Calculate the percentage of Non-Ceruloplasmin-Bound Copper: Non-Ceruloplasmin-Bound Copper (6) divided by total Copper (2), then multiplied by 100. Reference range is 5% to 20%.

Please take note that reference ranges are statistical ranges given by the laboratories. They are not the optimal or healthy range. They vary slightly between different laboratories, but they are generally around the same levels. They are usually two standard deviations above and below the mean, and that represents about 95% of the population sampled. ¹

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From Wikipedia: “In health-related fields, a reference range or reference interval usually describes the variations of a measurement or value in healthy individuals. It is a basis for a physician or other health professional to interpret a set of results for a particular patient. The standard definition of a reference range (usually referred to if not otherwise specified) basically originates in what is most prevalent in a reference group taken from the population. However, there are also optimal health ranges that are those that appear to have the optimal health impact on people.I trust that many people, like myself, will find this useful. If you have comments or questions, please comment below. If you have questions I can’t answer, I recommend joining the Facebook group linked from the top of the page as Steve, (admin) seems to have quite a lot of knowledge on the subject.

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Susie Wilson

Susie Wilson is a Mum, a writer, a health buff and a bit of a self confessed food-a-holic! Susie has a passion for learning about, creating and of course eating healthy foods. She enjoys sharing recipes, ideas and information about the foods she loves and the things she's discovered about healthy eating and living. (Contact Author)

6 thoughts on “Calculate Zinc, Copper and Ceruloplasmin ratios from blood tests”

  1. Hello!

    I did the calculations, now what do I do with the results?

    • Hi Melissa. Basically your results will tell you if your copper levels are high. If they are, you might want to consider a low copper diet. I’ve been eating low copper for a few months now and I’m also taking Alpha Lipoic Acid which helps to remove excess copper (and other metals) from the body. I’d suggest reading the book by Anne Gittleman that I’ve spoken about in this post – – She explains really well about he problems with copper and how to deal with it.

  2. Hi Sue!

    Excuse me for my Englisch in advance… 🙂

    I have some questions about the testing. My copper and zinc were in the normal range, but copper almost at the top end and zinc at the lower end. Ceruloplasmin was mittle. I am also waiting for my hair analysis. Do you think that comparing blood and hair makes sense? I thought, if copper in the blood is a bit high and in hair high, then this would be a good indicator of copper overload. I have read that high copper in hair could mean that the body is able to get rid of copper quickly or it could mean that once has too much copper. But if copper in the blood is normal or high and in the hair analysis as well, this should be kind of severe hint that once has copper overload. What do you think about that?

    The other thing is, I am overweight. In the last two years I gained about 25 kilo because I felt much better when eating a lot and gaining weight (I know, sounds weird). In terms of copper that can be restored in the deep tissues as well as connective tissues (fat tissue) I could imagine that copper would not be very high in blood if somebody is gaining weight. Because the copper could be stored in the fat tissue. What do you think about that?

    Greetings from Switzerland,

  3. Hi Sue, thanks for this post. very helpful!

    Just as reference I thought I would deposit some info here.

    Free (unbound) Copper = not good
    Bound Copper (inside Ceruloplasmin Cp) = good

    so the ratio means the lower the better. That’s fewer free/unbound than ‘escorted/contained’ (ie copper inside Cp)

    (a high-normal absolute Cp with low-normal free/unbound copper:Cp ratio would probably be the bee’s knees!

    When copper is inside Cp it can do a lot of good.)

    High copper/zinc (over 1.0) = bad but doesn’t tell the whole picture. 100 is a good target for zinc if one has signs of deficiency with a low-normal plasma test result (Walsh – Nutrient Power)

    the trick is to increase the Cp and have low free:bound Cu:Cp ratio.

    Ceruloplasmin (Cp) has more function in the body than moving copper. It is a ‘ferroxidase’ enzyme and so plays an important role in iron metabolism. It regulates iron

    • Fantastic! Thanks for that info. 🙂

  4. Is it possible to learn the ratio with separate zinc and copper numbers only?

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