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Copper

What is Copper?

Copper may be a trace mineral found in the body, but it’s effect extends all the way to the blood and the bones. Copper promotes the development of connective tissues that allow for efficient bones, cartilage and blood vessels through all bodily systems. In order to be most effective, copper must work closely with iron and a deficiency in one mineral source can greatly affect the other. Copper is primarily stored in the muscles, liver and brain.

What does Copper do?

The duo of copper and iron creates a team that is able to aide in the creation of red blood cells the body needs. Beyond blood vessels, bones and nerves, copper can also help boost the immune system. When it comes to healing, the body requires collagen as well as elastin to heal wounds and a copper and iron combination can help raise each of these levels. Additional copper contributions to a functioning body include hair pigmentation and the promotion of antioxidant qualities that promote overall health. Cooper can help fight free radicals that may possibly cause damage to DNA and healthy, vital cells.

Where is Copper found?

Copper used for dietary benefits is normally consumed through daily diets. A balanced diet that contains food such as oysters, whole grain bread, liver, shellfish, green leafy vegetables, chocolate and nuts is usually a sufficient source of copper consumption.

People who suffer from copper deficiencies may choose to take copper supplements. These comes in many forms and are widely available as capsules, topical gels or multivitamins.

Whether incorporating standard copper levels into a diet or taking a supplement, copper levels should be regulated as consuming too much copper could lead to stomach pains, digestive problems, diarrhea, headache and vomiting. Some of these systems could lead to serious medical conditions and therefore, it is always recommended that copper supplements or copper-rich diets be approved by a physicians in advance.

What happens when someone has a Copper deficiency?

Copper deficiencies are rare, as the human body consistently stores copper and requires very little copper in order to function effectively. However, there are certain groups of individuals that live with a higher risk. Individuals who are required to consume large amounts of zinc, vitamin C, or fructose may be at risk for copper deficiencies as these minerals tend to deplete copper levels. Additionally, patients who have conditions that cause low rates of absorption may not be able to retain the needed trace amounts of copper their bodies require.

Recent studies have shown that infants who are exclusively fed cow’s milk formula may acquire copper deficiencies as the milk itself is low in copper. Similarly, premature infants, particularly those who are delivered with severely low birth weights are at a greater risk for developing copper deficiencies.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Copper

Diets rich in seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables as well as black pepper and black strap molasses are highly recommended when it comes to maintaining balanced copper levels. It may be advisable to incorporate copper supplements into your diet if you are looking to alleviate symptoms of anemia, arthritis or slow down bone loss.

Copper – AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Micrograms per Day
200
220

Copper – RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

Children
1-3 years
4-8 years

340
440
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

700
890
900
900
900
900
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

700
890
900
900
900
900
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

1000
1000
1000
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

1300
1300
1300

 

Sources:
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/copper-000296.htm
http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/minerals/copper.html
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-902-copper.aspx?activeIngredientId=902&activeIngredientName=copper&source=1
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002419.htm
http://nutrition.about.com/od/therapeuticnutrition1/g/copper.htm
USDA Dietary Reference Intakes