The Health Benefits of Copper – Metal meets Blood
Today we want to talk about a micro element, which is a metal, often used in electrical wiring. We are talking about the essential micro element copper. Yes, not only electric current needs a conductor, we also. Moreover, we want to find out “The Health Benefits of Copper – Metal meets Blood”. And we will discover from where you can get it, how much you need of it and what else might be of interest about copper.
Why does copper as a metal meets blood?
Copper is an essential micro element, which is of high importance for our blood circulation. And that is because copper helps to form hemoglobin, which is an iron containing protein structure. This structure is responsible for the red color of our blood, but additionally for something much more important. It is an oxygen transporter because oxygen is bound to iron in this structure.
So now we know that copper has a crucial function in our blood circulation, as it sets the foundation for a proper transport of oxygen, which is a must. And we will find out later, what other health benefits are offered by copper.
What is Copper?
Copper is a heavy metal and a metalloid.
In nature, it is often found as compounds like sulfide, chloride or carbonate.
Copper is an essential micro or trace element, which we have to get through our nutrition.
What is the demand of Copper?
Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for copper is about
1000 micrograms (μg) per day.
Where can you get Copper from (Top foods)?
Here are the Top foods, which are rich in copper:
1. Cacao (up to 4000 μg/100g),
2. Nuts like cashews (up to 3500 μg/100g)
3. Pulses like beans, cheese (up to 1200 μg/100g)
4. Fish like salmon (up to 1000 μg/100g)
5. Grains (up to 600 μg/100g)
6. Artichoke, black salsify (up to 300 μg/100g)
What are the functions and benefits of Copper?
Here we want to have a closer look at the most important functions and benefits of copper in our body.
Formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells
As we already learned above, copper helps to lay the foundation of the oxygen transport with iron, as it helps to form the red blood pigment hemoglobin, which transports oxygen bound to iron.
Function within the iron metabolism
Besides the interdependence of copper with iron in our blood circulation, copper is also there to support the absorption of iron in the gut.
Function within the energy metabolism
Another huge and important benefit of copper can be found in our energy metabolism. There it helps to build several proteins/enzymes, that are used to generate energy for our body out of macro nutrients. The pigment protein cytochrome, for example, ensures the energy generation in the mitochondria.
Other functions and benefits of copper in our body
Furthermore, copper helps to stimulate our immune system, works as an antioxidant and is responsible for the pigmentation of our skin and our hair.
Copper is also there to promote the formation of hormones, such as adrenaline and it helps to maintain a firm connective tissue, as it is a there to build collagen.
What deficiency symptoms of Copper exist?
A deficiency in copper can be accompanied by a deficiency in iron, as these two minerals correspond with each other within the absorption in the gut. Other risk factors are of course a poor diet, diarrhea or excessive exercising. Illnesses like celiac disease, Crohn´s disease or mucoviscidosis are potentially risky concerning the right amount of copper. A specific case of a copper metabolism disorder is the genetically inherited disease called Menkes-disease, which limits the absorption of copper in the gut dramatically. Typical symptoms of a deficiency are:
- fatigue and weakness
- disorders in the nerve system
What overdose symptoms of Copper exist?
An overdose of copper is very seldom and not usual in a balanced nutrition. Only special conditions like the disease Wilson´s disease, which decreases the excretion of copper are risk factors. Light overdoses are excreted through the urine. An overdose exists with copper values over 120 – 130 μg/dl blood.
What else may you have to consider about Copper?
Value in our body
The amount of copper in our body is about 80 – 100 mg. About 40% of it can be found in the muscles, 15% in the liver and 10% in the brain.
Antagonists and Advice
Natural antagonists of copper are especially iron and zinc. If the level of copper is low, then it is most likely that the level of iron is also low. Other antagonists, which have an effect on the copper metabolism are calcium, phosphorus, sulfur and molybdenum.
The proper copper concentration is provided by ATP (adenosine triphosphate, energy carrier).
The liver can be a depot for copper.
In small doses copper also has an antibacterial effect.
Discovery and Use
Copper is long known, probably for about 10.000 years.
The word “copper” comes from the Latin word “cuprum” and “aes cyprium”, which describes, that copper was once predominantly mined on Cyprus.
As we now know how important copper is for our metabolism, it should be held on the right level, especially through nutrition. Copper is not only responsible for the proper distribution of iron, and therefore oxygen in our body. But it is also there to support our energy metabolism with the right enzymes to produce energy out of the macro nutrients. Furthermore, it plays a role in our immune system, our adrenal system and the formation of pigments. Good sources of copper in food are cacao, nuts and pulses.
Now to you. What do you think? What else do you want to know? Would you like to add something? Let us know in the comments.