Copper is a useful mineral and it is found throughout the human body. For human beings copper has many uses like working with iron, helping in the creation of red blood cells and in maintaining healthy nerves, blood vessels, bones and immune system. It has been recommended that the daily dosage for adult men is 890 mcg/day and women 900 mcg/day. Pregnant and lactating women require higher amounts.
Health Benefits of Copper
Copper health benefits are numerous. It helps in optimum utilization of iron, helps in energy production and for maintaining healthy eyes, hair and connective tissues. Copper helps to maintain normal metabolic process along with vitamins and amino acids. People must get their daily requirement from food sources or mineral supplements. This third most prevalent mineral in humans offers various benefits.
Arthritis : Copper health benefits in decreasing arthritis symptoms are due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Some animal studies have demonstrated that sufficient intake of copper can prevent and slow the progress of osteoarthritis. Copper bracelets are often worn by those suffering from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis although there is no evidence to back this claim. Water accumulated in a copper container will retain traces of copper. This water can then be used by those suffering from arthritis since it strengthens the muscles. This home remedy for arthritis is effective.
Connective tissues : Copper is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in synthesizing myelin, hemoglobin, collagen
and body pigment melanin. The myelin sheath that covers the nerves is provided protection by copper. It is also used in the production of elastin that is a connective tissue element.
Aids proper growth : Normal growth rate and health of the body is maintained with the right intake of copper. Hence, each individual must ensure they consume a diet with the right quantities of copper. It also provides protection for the nervous, cardiovascular and skeletal systems.
Recommended Dosage of Copper
Skin and eye pigmentation : Copper health benefits are vital for the creation of melanin that provides coloration to the hair, skin and eyes. Melanocytes produce melanin in the presence of tyrosinase or cuproenzyme. Proper intake of copper prevents graying of hair.
Energy production : Adenosine triphosphate is the energy storehouse of the body. Copper is an essential nutrient for synthesizing adenosine triphosphate. Cytochrome c oxidase and cuproenzyme affect intracellular energy production. Copper acts as a catalyst during the synthesis of ATP.
Utilization of Iron : Copper health benefits in proper utilization of iron are critical, for both iron and copper deficiency cause anemia. Copper is essential for the proper utilization of iron. 90% of the copper found in blood forms a compound known as ceruloplasmin. This acts as a transport protein that takes copper to tissues that require this essential mineral. Ceruloplasmin acts as a catalyst of minerals such as iron. This oxidation process is needed for iron to be bound to the transport protein transferrin. Since copper is required for iron utilization, a deficiency in iron that results in anemia can be due to a deficiency in copper too.
Helps Brain development : Copper is a brain stimulant and is popularly referred to as ‘brain food’. People must be careful to consume copper only in the correct proportions for too much is not good for brain health. Since it performs a control function of the brain, a balanced copper supplement is required.
Eliminates Free Radicals : Superoxide radicals in the body can be removed by an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) that is dependent on copper. These superoxide radicals are formed when white blood cells wage a war on invading viruses and bacteria through a process called phagocytosis. If they are not destroyed soon, these superoxide radicals can destroy cell membranes. If the body does not contain adequate quantities of copper, the functions of SOD is reduced and cell membrane damage is increased. Copper acts with zinc to make the SOD enzyme function properly and therefore reduces the signs of ageing.
Miscellaneous benefits of Copper : Iron and sugar are properly utilized when the body has the right amounts of copper. Copper absorbs iron from the intestinal tract and releases it from liver that is a primary storage site. It helps the body utilize sugar too.
Bacterial strains like E coli can be inhibited or destroyed by bactericidal properties of copper.
Thyroid glands require the right amounts of copper for proper functioning.
RBC hemoglobin and bones are formed with the help of copper.
Wounds heal quicker with the presence of copper. Hence copper is considered an excellent immunity builder.
Bad Cholesterol levels are reduced and beneficial cholesterol levels increased with the help of copper.
Enzymatic reactions are facilitated with the presence of copper in the body. Copper is an element in at least 50 different enzymes. These are used for a variety of biological reactions in the body.
Osteoporosis symptoms in postmenopausal women can be slowed down by copper, manganese, calcium and zinc working together.
Foods rich in Copper
Health benefits of copper can be got from various foods some of which are shell fish like oyster which is the richest source, organ meats like liver, kidney, heart, nuts like macadamia, almonds, dark leafy vegetables, prunes, black pepper, cocoa, legumes, bananas, grapes, blackstrap molasses, enriched cereals like shredded wheat, bran and raisin bran flakes and more.
Precautions when Taking Copper
Apart from foods rich in copper, you can also get the required doses of this essential mineral from a variety of supplements. These should only be taken under medical supervision for too much of copper can cause various side effects like vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness etc. Copper toxicity while rare can have dangerous side effects like jaundice, heart problems, coma and in rare cases death. Copper cookware and water that comes through copper pipes also contain traces of copper in them. Without knowing it, people can ingest too much copper from these sources.
Health benefits of copper are many and the best way to receive the daily requirement is through a balanced diet. Others can take mineral supplements to make up any deficiency, for copper provides benefits for bone health, connective tissues, hair and eye health, has antioxidant properties and much more. Copper is essential for proper functioning of body enzymes so the right quantities are required for overall good health.