Often thought of as “Iron Deficiency,” but in 1855, Dr. Theophilus Thompson (in London) published the first known article about curing Anemia using Cod Liver Oil.  And in 1934, Drs. Whipple, Minot, and Murphy shared the Nobel Prize for curing “Anemia,” and “Pernicious Anemia” (aka. “Iron Deficiency caused by lack of Vitamin B12”) with one product: Beef Liver!  Hmm… While Beef Liver does have some Iron, the KEY to these solutions lies in the naturally occurring Vitamin A (aka. Retinol), and its ability to make Copper “bioavailable.” A well-established, but often overlooked fact, is that Inflammation CAUSES Iron to present low in Iron blood tests. (Roy, Andrews, 2005; Wessling-Resnick, 2010).

Iron (Fe)

80% of the Iron in our body is used to carry oxygen to our cells (70% in Hemoglobin and 10% in Myoglobin).  As such, Iron is a vital nutrient.  But it REQUIRES Bioavailable Copper to regulate its usability, otherwise Iron runs around like a 4-year old with a hammer — wreaking havoc inside our cells, causing Oxidative Stress and Inflammation, which affects MANY metabolic pathways.

Males have about 4,000mg of Iron in their body; females about 3,500mg; children about 3,000mg or less. A KEY dimension to Iron is the fact that it is “recycled” each and every day. See The Reticuloendothelial System (RES)

The Reticuloendothelial System (RES)

The “Iron Recycling System” inside our body provides 95% of our daily Iron needs.  In total, we use ~25mg of Iron per day to make new Red Blood Cells and other Iron-based proteins, such as Heme.  So 24mg out of 25mg come from the Iron in our body already thanks to this “recycling system” (RES).  Which means, we ONLY need to intake ~1mg per day from food to balance the ~1mg we excrete in our feces each day.

RES is dependent upon Bioavailable Copper to ensure proper Iron “recycling.”  There are three key cells involved in RES: 

  1. Enterocytes – digestive cells in our intestines
  2. Hepatocytes – the main cells in our liver
  3. Macrophages – the KEY “Pac Men” that serve as first responders and recyclers


Regarded as the “Iron Hormone”, it’s also known as the “Inflammation Hormone.” Hepcidin acts as a key cellular agent — it allows Iron to be absorbed & released in the Enterocytes and then put into the circulatory system.  When there is too little Iron, Hepcidin prevents Iron from exiting the Enterocyte. Hepcidin also allows Iron to be released from the Macrophages.  Low Hepcidin is not necessarily an indication that the body is deficient in Iron.


A copper-dependant protein that acts as the “doorman” and allows Iron to exit the cell.  It is facilitated by Ferroxidase, and blocked by Hepcidin.


Similar to Ferroportin, the “doorman” in our gut that allows Iron to be released from the cell into the circulatory system. When this “doorman” is properly loaded with Bioavailable Copper, it works correctly, and Iron can exit the cell and complete its Circulation around the body.  When Copper is NOT Bioavailable, Iron builds up in the cells/tissue, which generates Oxidative Stress.


A prevalent protein throughout the body that has Iron at its core.  If you can’t make heme, the body isn’t going to function properly.  Four Heme are “knit” together to create Hemoglobin.


The protein responsible for transporting Oxygen.  Also, from 1862 – 1972, it was the most typical blood measurement of Iron status.  But it’s not a particularly useful measurement as this is the “dipstick” way of measuring Iron — it’s like measuring the amount of oil in your car, but what we should really be measuring is Serum Iron, which is like measuring Miles Per Gallon.

Serum Iron

Measures “efficiency” of the Iron REcycling System (RES); similar to how we measure Miles Per Gallon (MPG) in our cars. (Wessling-Resnick & Knutson, 2010)  As opposed to the simplistic “dipstick” measurement of Iron (Hemoglobin, which was replaced by Ferritin), measuring Serum Iron is a much more effective measurement of Iron Homeostasis, as it implies the movement, functionality and REcycling of Iron around the body.  (See Ideal Lab Values here…)


The protein that stores Iron in the tissues.  There are TWO forms of Ferritin — “Heavy chain” and “Light chain” — but the standard blood tests do NOT distinguish this KEY feature, and therefore Serum Ferritin blood tests are invalid markers of Iron status.  When Iron is NOT being loaded into Ferritin (for LACK of “bioavailable” Copper) it is being loaded into Hemosiderin, which is NEVER measured in standard blood tests. The Serum Ferritin test should NEVER be used alone to assess Iron status and homeostasis.  (See Ideal Lab Values here…)  Ferritin serves NO active physiological role in the body, and REQUIRES Ferroxidase enzyme function to load Iron into this protein.


An Iron storage “complex” found primarily inside of the Macrophage cells, as opposed to circulating in the blood.  If the body cannot make adequate levels of Ferroxidase in order to load Iron into Ferritin, the body is forced to store the excess Iron in Hemosiderin.  It is NOT routinely measured in humans, which leaves us in the dark about how prevalent and significant Hemosiderin levels are as a source of excess, unbound Iron.


The key “transport” protein that moves / “recycles” Iron from tissue back into the bloodstream and back to the Bone Marrow where it gets used to make NEW Red Blood Cells. This protein is dependent on optimal levels of Vitamin A (aka. Retinol). (Use Serum Transferrin blood test to measure the amount.  See Ideal Lab Values here…)

Total Iron-binding Capacity (TIBC)

Measures how many “docking stations” are available for Iron. This is a derivative of the Transferrin status and reveals systemwide capacity to bind up Iron. (See Ideal Lab Values here…)

Oxidation / Oxidative Stress

Inflammation is not a disease, but rather, damaged tissue that cannot function correctly.  Inflammation is caused by excess, unbound Iron, or Oxidative Stress.  Inflammation is the result of Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) not being cleared by an antioxidant enzymes (such as Catalase and Glutathione Peroxidase) that are powered by Bioavailable Copper.  Classic clinical indicators of Inflammation are LOW Magnesium, LOW Bioavailable Copper, and LOW Retinol, each of which are routinely overlooked in standard blood tests.

Bioavailable Copper

Copper has profound functions in the body, principally focused on creating energy (Cytochrome c Oxidase) and clearing exhaust (Integrated Antioxidant System).  But the Copper must be “bioavailable”, which means Copper needs to be “complexed” in a network of proteins and enzymes.  And this doesn’t happen magically.  Retinol is an essential nutrient for loading Copper into Ceruloplasmin95% of Copper in the blood is “complexed” in Ceruloplasmin.


Considered the MASTER “Multi-Copper Protein.” Cp has an “active” & “inactive” state, or an “enzyme activity” & “immunoreactive protein” state.  In its “active” state, Cp contains up to 8 Copper atoms surrounding a molecule of Oxygen (O2).  But unfortunately, only the “inactive” state is measured by commercial labs using the Serum Ceruloplasmin blood test; there are no commercial labs that measure the “active” state.  (See Ideal Lab Values here…)  This protein was discovered in the early 1940s by Swedish Physiologists, Carl G.Holmberg & C.B. Laurell, and first described in their article published in 1947.

Ferroxidase (FOX)

The “active” (or “enzyme”) form of Ceruloplasmin.  FOX regulates Iron and prevents it from causing Oxidative Stress, (aka. rust).  FOX is the MASTER antioxidant enzyme in the human body. Ferroxidase has the highest amount of activity in the Liver and the Brain; and has notable activity in the Intestine (called Hephaestin) and in the Placenta (called Zyklopen).  Without optimal Ferroxidase enzyme activity, Iron starts to build in our tissues, especially our Liver cells and Endocrine glands.  As we age, this chronic build-up of Iron leads to decreased energy production in the cells, and increased Inflammation in our tissues and organs.

How do we increase the amount of Ceruloplasmin (Cp) protein and the activity of Ferroxidase (FOX) enzyme?  This is THE PRIORITY focus of the steps in The Root Cause Protocol.  By increasing Cp & FOX, we decrease Iron dysfunction, and we stop the chronic loss of Magnesium.


A key mineral connected to 3,751 enzyme functions in the body.  Among its many functions is to regulate Calcium homeostasis through the activity of 3 key Calciotropic hormones: Calcitonin, Parathyroid Hormone, and Vitamin D.  Magnesium’s presence in the energy molecule (Mg-ATP) is an absolute requirement for its recognition and use in the body.  Magnesium is the “Conductor of the Mineral Orchestra” inside the body.

Magnesium Burn Rate (MBR)

Under any form of stress to the body (physical, emotional, nutritional, electrical, etc.), Magnesium is lost as a metabolic response.  Because when the body is under stress, it makes energy (aka. “Mg-ATP”) as a response.  Under extreme and/or sustained stress — and failure to properly re-mineralize — the body loses its natural ability to respond to stress, and Oxidative Stress (aka. “rust”) builds up throughout the body.  Magnesium deficiency (low Magnesium RBC) is the recognized precursor to inflammation.  When the body is expressing optimal Ferroxidase activity, the MBR will be at a minimum.


Naturally occurring, wholefood Vitamin A found in Cod Liver Oil, Beef Liver, Grassfed Butter, and other animal-based foods.  Retinol is vital for “loading” Copper into Ceruloplasmin, which makes Copper become bioavailable (aka. “increasing Ferroxidase” activity) so that it can then “regulate” Iron as needed across and around the body, and stop Oxidative Stress (aka. “rust”).


A particularly important protein for lowering Oxidative Stress (aka. “rust”).  Glutathione binds Copper which prevents it from becoming “reactive” inside the cells.  Glutathione also plays a critical role inside the cell, transporting Copper to ensure proper distribution to critical proteins and enzymes.  Glutathione’s “copper top battery” is Glutathione Peroxidase, enabling it to be reused over and over.  Glutathione Peroxidase is vital because it turns 2 molecules of H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) into 2 molecules of H2O (Water) and one molecule of O2 (Oxygen).  Synthesis of Glutathione involves two metabolic steps that require Magnesium.


Another important Copper-dependent antioxidant enzyme that, similar to Glutathione, reduces H202 (Hydrogen Peroxide), principally in our blood, reducing Oxidative Stress (aka. “rust”).  When there is sufficient Catalase in our blood stream, there can be proper production of Hemoglobin.  Too much Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) will prevent optimal Hemoglobin production.  Therefore, a lack of Catalase can be a KEY cause of “Low” Iron levels in blood tests.  (aka. Having a low Hemoglobin blood test score.)  But this has NO relation to the actual level of Iron inside the body as a whole.

RCP123 In Summary

  1. Bioavailable Copper converts toxic “Ferrous Iron” (Fe2+) into beneficial “Ferric Iron.” (Fe3+)
  2. Without enough Bioavailable Copper, unbound toxic “Ferrous Iron” runs around the body like a 4 year old with a hammer, causing Oxidative Stress / Inflammation / aka. “rust”, the root cause of virtually all health challenges.
  3. Therefore, the priority focus of The Root Cause Protocol is to increase Bioavailable Copper, which will minimize Oxidative Stress and therefore, minimize the Magnesium Burn Rate.

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