As one of the important minerals that can promote health to the body, it is also necessary for us to know why do we need copper in our bodies. Copper is an important trace mineral and ranks number three when it comes to abundance in the body. It is primarily stored in the liver but traces of it can be found in the entire body.
Sources for copper include sea foods, organ meats, nuts, legumes, chocolate, enriched cereals, blackstrap molasses, black pepper, fruits, and vegetables. Copper is also available in multivitamins, oral supplements, copper healing bracelets, topical gels, and solutions.
Prior to intake of any copper oral supplements, it is recommended that a consultation with a physician be done first, as copper has several potent side effects. These include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach ache, muscle pain, joint pain, dizziness, weakness, nervousness, and depression. It can also leave a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth. Copper toxicity can result in heart diseases, jaundice, coma, and even death. Individuals are advised not to use copper supplements when suffering from diarrhea.
Signs and symptoms of copper deficiency are anemia, bone fracture, osteoporosis, hypothermia, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigmentation, irritability, baldness, bone deformities, nerve degeneration, body malaise, and thyroid problems. Copper deficiency usually occurs after surgery done on the gastrointestinal area, and in cases of chronic diarrhea. Babies who have copper deficiencies frequently exhibit abnormal growth and poor eating habits.
Functions of Copper in the Body
Although we only need about 900 mcg for our daily need, copper is vital for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the immune system. It also contributes in keeping the heart healthy.
One of the most important roles of copper is to help in the production of the red blood cells, hemoglobin, and bone.
It is also important in the health of the nerves in order to build and maintain the myelin sheaths which insulate the nerve cells.
Copper is essential in the formation of proteins in the connective tissue such as the elastin and collagen. It is also vital in the development and maintenance of the skin, bones, joints, and blood vessels. It is part of the formation process of melanin, the pigment responsible for the skin color.
Copper can be an antioxidant, and as such, it invades and destroys free radicals, which cause cancers.
Dietary supplementation with copper is used to ward off medical conditions like anemia, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is also used to promote better wound and faster burn healing.
Some studies have also shown that copper, with the combination of zinc, can reduce the probability of developing lung cancer. Other studies have indicated that copper can inactivate HIV infection.
Importance of Copper in the Diet
Because of the different health benefits of copper in the body, especially its contribution to the immune system and nervous system, it is necessary that we incorporate various sources of copper in our daily diet. By doing this, we prevent the occurrence of copper deficiency and avoid its complications.
EDIS: Facts about Copper