In this article, you’ll learn and discover ways copper can help people with anemia, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.
Copper is a mineral that’s found throughout the body. It helps your body make red blood cells and keeps nerve cells and your immune system healthy. It also helps form collagen, a key part of bones and connective tissue. Copper may also act as an antioxidant, getting rid of free radicals that can damages cells and DNA. Copper helps the body absorb iron, and your body needs copper to make energy. Your body doesn’t need much copper, and although many people may not get enough copper in their diet, it’s rare to be truly deficient in copper. Signs of possible copper deficiency include anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures and osteoporosis, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigment from the skin, and thyroid problems.
People who take high amounts of zinc, iron, or vitamin C may need more copper, but you should ask your healthcare provider before taking copper supplements. Too much copper can be dangerous.
Foods that contain copper include oysters, liver, whole grain bread and cereals, shellfish, dark green leafy vegetables, dried legumes, nuts, and chocolate.
Copper plays many important roles in maintaining a healthy body and some of its benefits include:
The health benefits of copper relate to its anti-inflammatory actions that assist in reducing the symptoms of arthritis. The consumer market is also flooded with copper bracelets as well as other accessories for curing this condition. Copper can also work as a home remedy for arthritis; store water in a copper container overnight to accumulates copper traces. These are beneficial in strengthening the muscular system, so drink the water when you wake in the morning. You will feel energized and active for the day because your metabolism will have a good source of copper for its daily processes.
Copper is essential for normal growth and health. Thus, it is very important to include this mineral in balanced levels in your regular diets. It is also helpful in the protection of the skeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. If you suffer from a copper deficiency, the normal and healthy growth of organs and tissues, as well as their proper oxygenation from an ample red blood cell concentration, would be impossible. Copper deficiencies are seen in many third world countries and is reflected in the number of birth and growth defects in children of those nations.
Pigmentation of Hair and Eyes
Copper is a vital component of the natural dark pigment, melanin, which imparts coloration to the skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin can be produced by melanocytes only in the presence of the cuproenzyme called tyrosinase, which is derived from copper. Intake of its supplements also helps in protecting against graying of the hair, so while it is often overlooked as an antioxidant mineral, it does protect the integrity of those cells and keeps you looking young! It also maintains the color of your eyes, and is essential, along with zinc, to keep your eyes beautifully colored into your old age.
Copper is an important nutrient that plays a significant role in the synthesis of hemoglobin, myelin, body pigment melanin and collagen. It helps to protect the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves, and it is also actively involved in the production of elastin, an element of connective tissue that keeps the skin flexible. This also keeps your skin from looking older, by keeping it flexible and less prone to sagging and wrinkles.
Copper is widely known as a brain stimulant, which is why food with a high copper content is often classified as “Brain Food”. However, copper content in the diet has to be incorrect proportions, because too much copper is also not healthy for the brain. It has a control function to play in the brain, so the amount of copper supplementation has to be balanced. It has been associated directly with higher thought processes, particularly in relation to the impact of its transporter protein, Atp7a. Studies have shown a direct link between copper content within the brain and creative or out of the box thinking, showing that it enables neural pathways to develop in unique ways.
Copper is either an element or a cofactor in as many as 50 different enzymes that take part in various biological reactions within the body. These enzymes can function properly only in the presence of copper. Without the enzymatic reactions in our various organ systems, our entire metabolism would slow down and the intricate network of reactions and metabolic pathways would cease to function in harmony. This is specifically important in certain brain pathways, particularly those involving dopamine and galactose.
Utilization of Iron and Sugar
Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and in the release from its primary storage sites like the liver. It also helps in the utilization of sugar in the body. By helping in the absorption of iron from food and other supplemental sources, copper guarantees a healthy red blood cell count and proper oxygenation of different organ systems. Without a proper supply of iron, people suffer from anemia, also known as iron deficiency, which can be a very dangerous condition resulting in fatigue, muscle ache, digestive problems, and general weakness.
Helps Prevent Premature Aging
Copper is a strong antioxidant, which works in the presence of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase to safeguard the cell membranes from free radicals. Superoxide dismutase is one of the strongest antioxidants that work within the body in the fight against free radicals. Free radicals attack many different organ systems but are specifically well-studied in terms of their effect on aging, including wrinkles, age spots, susceptibility to various types of cancer, macular degeneration, and kidney malfunctions. Having enough copper in your daily diet can keep you looking younger for longer!
Increases Energy Production
Copper is essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate, which is an energy storehouse of the human body. The cuproenzyme, cytochrome c oxidase, affects intracellular energy production. It acts as a catalyst in the reduction of molecular oxygen to water, during which the enzyme produces an electrical gradient used by the mitochondria to synthesize the vital energy-storing molecule, ATP. Therefore, when we have enough copper in our bodies, we will have enough functional and accessible energy to get through the day without feeling lethargic or tired.
Studies have shown that copper can destroy or inhibit the growth of bacterial strains such as E Coli. It also boosts the immune system and prevents excess energy from being expended fighting off the infections.
Copper plays an important role in ensuring the proper function of the thyroid gland. However, excess copper is also a major cause of thyroid malfunction, so you need a very balanced level of copper in the blood, or else hormonal activity will be imbalanced, and you can develop symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Red Blood Cell Formation
Copper is essential in the production of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and bone matter. This is because copper is partially responsible for the efficient uptake of iron from food sources.
Copper is a vital part of the healing process and ensures better wound healing. It acts as an extremely good immunity builder, and it also works as a cure for anemia, which will allow your body to both defend itself better and heal itself faster. It is a co-factor in various enzymatic processes that result in endothelial growth or the healing process of tissue.
Research studies have shown that copper can reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and help to increase beneficial cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). This lowers the chances of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Copper is found in these foods:
- Seafood, such as oysters, squid, lobster, mussels, crab, and clams
- Organ meats, such as beef liver, kidneys, and heart
- Nuts and nut butter such as cashews, filberts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios
- Legumes, such as soybeans, lentils, navy beans, and peanuts
- Chocolate, such as unsweetened or semisweet baker’s chocolate and cocoa
- Enriched cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat, and raisin bran
- Fruits and vegetables, such as dried fruits, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, grapes, and avocado
- Blackstrap molasses
- Black pepper
How to Take It
- For infants from birth – 6 months: 200 mcg daily
- Infants 7 – 12 months: 220 mcg daily
- For children 1 – 3 years: 340 mcg daily
- For ages 4 – 8 years: 440 mcg daily
- Children 9 – 13 years: 700 mcg daily
- Kids 14 – 18 years: 890 mcg daily
- Children should get copper from foods. Don’t give copper supplements to children.
- Adults 19 years and older: 900 mcg daily
- Pregnant women: 1,000 mcg daily
- Breastfeeding women: 1,300 mcg daily
- If you take a copper supplement, you should also take a zinc supplement (8 – 15 mg of zinc for every 1 mg of copper), as an imbalance of these two minerals can cause other health problems.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
Too much copper can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, dizziness, weakness, diarrhea, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Copper toxicity is rare but can cause heart problems, jaundice, coma, and even death. Do not use copper supplements if diarrhea is present.
Water containing copper concentrations greater than 6 mg/L may cause stomach problems such as nausea and vomiting. If you have well water, you may want to get the water tested for mineral content.
You can also get copper without knowing it from using copper cookware and from water coming through new copper pipes. Avoid unlined copper cookware. Copper can leach out of pipes into water, especially hot water if it sits in copper pipes for a long time. To avoid problems, always cook with cold water. Flushing the pipes by running cold water for 2 – 3 minutes can reduce copper. If you have blue-green stains around your faucet or sink, or if you detect a metallic taste to your water, you may want to have your water tested by a certified laboratory.
Children and people with Wilson’s disease (which causes a build-up of copper in the brain, liver, kidneys, and eyes), and people with hereditary conditions including idiopathic copper toxicosis and childhood cirrhosis, should not take copper supplements.
Birth control pills and estrogen following menopause
Birth control medications and estrogen replacement for post-menopausal women can increase blood levels of copper.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These pain relievers include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). Copper binds to NSAIDs and may enhance their anti-inflammatory activity.
Penicillamine, a medication used to treat Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, reduces copper levels. Copper may lower the amount of penicillamine your body absorbs.
Test tube studies suggest that allopurinol, a medication used to treat gout, may reduce copper levels.
Animal studies show that cimetidine, a medication used to treat ulcers and gastric esophageal reflux disease (GERD), may raise copper levels in the body.
Nifedipine (Procardia or Adalat)
In a human study, people who took nifedipine had lower levels of copper in their red blood cells.
Several laboratory and human studies have found that taking high levels of zinc supplements over long periods of time may lower the body’s ability to absorb copper. The same doesn’t seem to be true of eating foods that have copper. Ask your health care provider if you need zinc and copper supplementation.