Health Benefits of Copper

Copper is one of the nutrients which is often not talked about, maybe because the body needs so little of this essential mineral. But still, its contribution to human health is as important as the other more famous nutrients.

Copper is the third most abundant micromineral in the body, behind iron and zinc. It is primarily stored in the liver, with lesser concentrations in the brain, heart, kidney and muscles. Copper is associated in metabolism as it allow many important enzymes to work properly. It plays an important role in the development and performance in almost all the body’s systems, including gene transcription.

1.       Helps the body absorb iron
Lack of copper in the body has the same symptoms as iron deficiency anemia. This is because copper plays a role in the absorption, storage and metabolism of iron and the formation of red blood cells (RBC).

2.       Promotes healthy thyroid
Copper is associated in thyroid metabolism, especially in hormone production and absorption by stimulating the production of thyroxine(T4), and prevents over-absorption of T4 in the blood cells by controlling the body’s calcium levels.
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3.       Helps produce melanin
Melanin is a class of compounds that is responsible for the color of our skin and hair. Copper is one of the many nutrients that play a role in melanin production.

4.       Helps maintain healthy bones
Though calcium is the best known nutrient for healthy bones, it only contributes about 25% to the prevention of bone loss. Magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper are also equally important for healthy bones. Zinc and copper enhances the effectiveness of vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of calcium.

5.       Ensures healthy connective tissues
Copper is part of an enzyme that plays a critical role in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, two important structural proteins found in bone and connective tissues.

6.       Eliminates free radicals
Copper is also one of the antioxidants which work to neutralize free radicals that can damage body tissues.

7.       Helps lower cholesterol levels
Copper may not be one of the popular nutrients to help lower cholesterol levels, but high concentrations of copper are found within the carotid artery. Dietary supplementation has shown to reduce atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits.
Signs of copper deficiency includes anemia, bone and joint problems, frequent infections, fatigue and weakness.

The adult RDA for copper is only 0.9 mg. Excellent sources include liver, mushrooms, oysters, sesame seeds, nuts, raisins, legumes and chocolate.

© K Kristie