The financial value of copper is constantly on the increase, but this essential mineral also (and more importantly) has many health benefits ranging from the production of blood cells to the formation of bone. This mineral is required for production of red and white blood cells. so what else are the health benefits of copper?
Copper is not as popular a supplement as zinc or iron but it is a mineral that is involved in many essential processes in the body. Copper is not made naturally in the body so it needs to be taken in the diet.
Copper is required for:
Bone health. Copper is required for the formation of both inner and outer bone. This mineral can be used as part of a treatment for osteoarthritis.
Heart and circulation. This mineral plays a role in maintaining a healthy heart.
Controlling cholesterol levels. Studies have found that copper can reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Brain stimulant. The levels of copper need to be in the correct balance as too much can be unhealthy for the brain.
Iron absorption. Copper helps the body to absorb iron. This is essential in preventing anaemia, weakness, tiredness, dizziness and mental fatigue. This is a good example of how minerals work together in health processes.
Cellular health. Copper is required for cellular respiration. Every cell in the body contains a substance called mitochondria. These mitochondria are responsible for producing cellular energy and respiration (removing toxins). Copper is essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which produces energy.
Thyroid health. A healthy copper balance is required for a healthy functioning thyroid gland. It is important not to take too much copper or zinc as excessive doses of one mineral can cause low levels of the other.
Antioxidant. Copper has antioxidant properties that help slow down the ageing process, and can help to prevent illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes.
Collagen. Copper is required for the formation of collagen, which is an essential protein in the make-up of bones, skin and connective tissue.
Arthritis. The potential benefits of copper in the treatment of arthritis are well known as copper bracelets and jewellery are very popular.
Many naturopaths recommend drinking water from a copper vessel. You can drink water that has been stored in a copper jug overnight to get copper in your diet.
The levels of vitamin C and zinc are related to copper. High copper levels result in low vitamin C and Zinc levels, so the signs of excess copper are directly related to signs of vitamin C and zinc deficiency. Conversely low copper levels result in high levels of vitamin C and zinc. It is therefore important not to take high doses of these supplements on a long term basis without professional supervision.
The following are signs of copper deficiency:
Weakened bones (osteoporosis)
Anaemia (low levels of red blood cells and iron)
Low white blood cell count. This means that your body cannot defend efficiently against toxins.
Lowered immune system – recurrent colds, coughs, sore throats and general weakness.
Thyroid problems. Copper deficiency can potentially lead to imbalances of the thyroid hormones causing hypo and hyper thyroid conditions.
Increased LDL cholesterol levels which can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.
Copper deficiency can be caused by excess zinc or molybdenum levels. Excessive levels of copper in the body can lead to health problems. High levels of copper cause a knock on effect resulting in low levels of zinc. This can then cause zinc deficiency which will require further treatment. The following are a few signs of excessive levels of copper (and low zinc) levels:
Joint and muscle pain
Irritability and nervousness
The recommended daily requirement of copper is 2mg day. As this mineral is not made naturally in the body, it needs to be taken in the diet.
Foods that contain copper: almonds, avocado, beans, broccoli, lentils, garlic, mushrooms, nuts, oats, green leafy vegetables.
Many vitamin companies sell copper supplements, but it is advisable to take them under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist.
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