Copper: Health Benefits, Sources, and Side Effects
Copper is a trace mineral and it is essential for several functions in the human body. Copper is essential for development, growth, immune functions, heart health, brain health, and bone strength.
It is an important part of the cuproenzyme which is a group of enzymes involved in many essential functions such as;
- Production of energy in cells
- Metabolism of iron
- Functioning of nervous system and brain
- Formation of connective tissues (strong and flexible)
- Formation of melanin pigment
- Potent antioxidant activities
Copper has anti-microbial properties and can be used in wood preservation, agriculture, hospitals, and paints.
Foods rich in copper
The food sources of copper are;
- Vegetables and fruits such as potatoes, avocadoes, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and dried fruits.
- Seeds such as sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds
- Liver such as lamb liver, beef liver, or calf liver
- Goat cheese
- Cocoa, or chocolate
- Nuts such as brazil nuts, cashew, walnuts, and hazelnuts
- Beans such as soybeans and chickpeas
- Grains and cereals
- Soy products such as soy milk, powder, tempeh, and tofu
Dosage of copper
The daily recommended intake of copper is 900 mcg for adults and children. Do not exceed the recommended amount as it can cause serious side effects.
Health Benefits of copper
Copper plays an important role and has a wide range of health benefits in maintaining a healthy body.
1. Copper Anti-Inflammatory Properties
A study carried on animals has shown that maintenance of body copper levels can postpone or even prevent arthritis.
Some people, therefore, wear copper gloves, wristbands, and other copper accessories. Volunteers in the study carried for arthritis showed that the use of copper jewelry is of no benefit.
2. Copper has Antioxidant Properties
It is proven by research that copper consists of antioxidant properties. Copper can reduce the development of free radicals because it contains antioxidants.
Free radical can cause diseases especially cancer and they can damage cells
3. Copper for Cardiovascular Health
Copper deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular health problems, comprising ischemic heart disease.
High cholesterol, glucose intolerance, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress are specific heart disease risk factors affected by copper deficiency.
4. Copper for Immune Health
It has been shown that copper deficiency and low intakes of copper decrease the number of white blood cells in the body and cause a disorder called neutropenia. An individual with a low number of white blood cells is more exposed to infections.
The maintenance of copper levels in the body will help to produce, support, and maintain healthy white blood cells.
5. Copper for Bone Density
A greater risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia, and reductions in bone density is connected with severe copper deficiency. The disorder of osteoporosis weakens and makes bones sensitive to breakdowns.
The bone mineral density be caused by osteopenia lowers the density to what it should be, and osteoporosis is considered a precursor.
6. Copper for Collagen Production
Copper has antioxidant characteristics and scientists believe that it helps to prevent skin aging. Adequate copper levels help the body replace damaged connective tissue and collagen that are essential for bone retention.
Inadequate collagen levels can contribute to joint dysfunction and disintegration of the connective tissue.
7. Copper for Brain Health
Copper involves itself in neurological and cognitive processes and development. In other words, too much copper will affect the health of the brain and lead to cognitive decline.
Side effects of copper
A high dosage of copper can cause many serious health conditions such as;
- Stomach pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathing problems
Copper supplements are available in market in form of chloride, sulfate, oxide, gluconate, and amino acid chelates.
You should take copper supplements only according to the recommendation of a healthcare professional as many individuals do not need copper supplements.
Copper supplements are recommended if anyone has a severe deficiency of copper or copper deficiency anemia.