What is copper?
A normal constituent of blood, copper is a trace mineral that plays an important role in our metabolism, largely because it allows many critical enzymes to function properly. Although copper is the third most abundant trace mineral in the body (behind iron and zinc), the total amount of copper in the body is only 75-100 milligrams, less than the amount of copper in a penny. Copper is present in every tissue of the body, but is stored primarily in the liver, so concentrations of the mineral are highest in that organ, with lesser amounts found in the brain, heart, kidney, and muscles.
- Help your body utilize iron
- Reduce tissue damage caused by free radicals
- Maintain the health of your bones and connective tissues
- Help your body produce the pigment called melanin
- Keep your thyroid gland functioning normally
- Preserve the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects your nerves
Signs of Deficiency:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Blood vessels that rupture easily
- Bone and joint problems
- Elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol levels
- Frequent infections
- Loss of hair or skin color
- Fatigue and weakness
- Difficulty breathing and irregular heart beat
- Skin sores
Factors That May Contribute To A Deficiency:
- Low stomach acid
- High levels of zinc supplements
- Diet low in dark green leafy vegetables
Health Conditiona That May Be Prevented or Improved with Copper:
- Heart Disease
- Hypothyroid disease
- Periodontal disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Stomach ulcers
Some Food Sources of Copper:
- Turnip Tops
- Mustard Greens
- Swiss Chard
- Summer Squash
- Green Beans
Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing:
Foods that require long-term cooking can have their copper content substantially reduced.
Many vegetables and whole grains now appear to be lower in copper than they were during the mid-1900’s. The depletion of copper from soils is believed to be responsible for this lowered amount of copper.
Excessive intake of copper can cause abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and liver damage. In addition, some experts believe that elevated copper levels, especially when zinc levels are also low, may be a contributing factor in many medical conditions including schizophrenia, hypertension, stuttering, autism, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, childhood hyperactivity, depression, insomnia, senility, and premenstrual syndrome.
Postpartum depression has also been linked to high levels of copper. Since excess copper is excreted through bile, copper toxicity is most likely to occur in individuals with liver disease or other medical conditions in which the excretion of bile is compromised.
The toxic effects of high tissue levels of copper are seen in patients with Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder characterized by copper accumulation in various organs.
Recommended Daily Allowance:
- 0-12 months: not possible to establish a TUL, sources of copper must be from food and formula only
- 1-3 years: 1000 micrograms
- 4-8 years: 1000 micrograms
- 9-13 years: 5000 micrograms
- 14-18 years: 8000 micrograms
- 19 years and older: 10,000 micrograms
- Pregnant women 14-18 years: 8000 micrograms
- Pregnant women 19 years and older: 10,000 micrograms
- Lactating women 14-18 years: 8000 micrograms
- Lactating women 19 years and older: 10,000 micrograms