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Copper Overview

Copper is a mineral available in trace amounts throughout the body incorporated into organic complexes, such as enzymes involved in brain function and the circulatory System. It is also extremely important for the development of the long bones, like the femur. Copper deficiency results in thin bones that fracture easily. Copper is an oxidant, yet in the body it has an antioxidant function by being a co-factor in the enzyme superoxide dismutase (S.O.D.). This enzyme protects the cells from the damage caused by free radicals and peroxides.
Copper is also part of the protein, ceruloplasmin, found in the blood plasma. Ceruloplasmin regulates the level of certain hormones in the blood and is also required for the formation of red blood cells. Additionally, copper plays a part in energy production, melanin formation and fatty acid oxidation.

Copper deficiency increases the risk of heart and circulatory problems, especially if there is also a selenium deficiency. Copper deficiency can also contribute to anemia, bone diseases, nervous system disturbance and hair loss. In children, growth is inhibited and the bones may become brittle.

Dietary Sources: Oyster, lamb’s liver, crab, Brewer’s yeast, olives, hazelnuts, shrimps, cod, whole wheat bread, and peas.

Dosage: The RDA for copper is 0.9mg. The upper safe level for daily supplementation is 5mg.

Side Effects: High intake of copper is toxic. Copper should not be taken by people with Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder of copper metabolism.


Research Overview

Deficiency in copper has been shown to contribute to:
1. Increased susceptibility to colon cancer
2. Increased spontaneous stomach tumorigenesis
3. Negative effect on T-cell function
4. Testicular damage
5. Sperm cell deterioration
6. High levels of iron in the liver
7. Bone loss in elderly people
8. Osteoporosis
9. Ishemic heart disease
10. Anemia
11. Neutropenia
12. High cholesterol
13. Glucose intolerance
14. Hypertension
15. Hyperuricemia
16. Reduced blood clotting
17. Atherosclerosis
18. Weakened blood vessels
19. Intensify negative effects of diabetes
20. Decrease in copper dependent enzymes
21. Menkes Disease; a genetic disorder of copper metabolism leading to brain and mitochondria deterioration
22. Low resistance to oxidative stress
23. Decreased mechanical strength
24. Cell death in the pancreas
25. Possible reproductive disorders
26. Hypopigmentation of the hair
27. Increased susceptibility to infection
28. Metabolic dysfunction

Copper supplementation has been shown to:
1. Alter lipid metabolism in fat cells
2. Increase bone density in women
3. Decrease bone loss in postmenopausal women
4. Decrease total and LDL cholesterol
5. Protect from selenium toxicity
6. Reduce arthritic inflammation
7. Have analgesic properties
8. Reduce nicotine damage in fetus when taken during pregnancy
9. Enhance wound healing
10. Have a chemotherapeutic effect when administered with ascorbic acid
11. Inhibit growth of tumors
12. Tissue regeneration after cell death
13. Decrease toxicity of some anti-cancer drugs
14. Decrease atherosclerotic lesions

Some facts about copper
1. Copper ions in cysteine naturally inhibit/fight viruses and offer protection from chronic autoimmune diseases
2. Copper works in synergy with zinc to remove free radicals
3. Experimentally, rats require more copper to maintain normal immune and thymus function when they are fed fructose rather than starch.
4. Copper is essential to cardiovascular health and some heart medications affect copper metabolism.
5. Many Western diets are deficient in copper
6. Cholesterol levels in edible chicken can be lowered with increased copper supplementation
7. Copper is essential to red and white blood cell development
8. Ceruloplasmin is a protein that transports copper which is elevated during pregnancy and may account for the spontaneous suspension of rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy
9. Copper deficiency is aggravated in a high fat diet

Copper Citations (236)