Copper is an essential trace mineral. This means you must obtain it through your diet or supplementation since your body can not synthesize it. And only a small amount is needed. Copper in incorporated into multiple proteins and metalloenzymes which are responsible for essential metabolic functions.
Copper Is absorbed, transported, distributed, stored and excreted in the body according to complex homeostatic processes which ensures a constant and sufficient supply of the micronutrient while simultaneously avoiding excess levels. Deficiency and excess can lead to tissue injury and disease. The majority of blood copper is bound to ceruloplasmin. Excess unused copper is returned to the liver for additional storage or biliary excretion.
The liver is the primary organ of copper-induced toxicity. Other organs include bone and the central nervous and immune systems. Excess copper also induces toxicity indirectly by interacting with other nutrients. Most commonly, excess copper intake produces anemia by interfering with iron transport and/or metabolism. There are several rare genetic diseases that affect the productions of specific proteins involved with the absorption and distribution of copper. (An example is Wilson’s disease where excess copper builds up in the liver). Finally, copper has been found promoting tumor growth. Several studies show evidence from animal models that tumors concentrate high levels of copper.
Copper deficiency may be linked to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and chronic conditions involving bone, connective tissue, heart and blood vessels, nervous system and immune system. Copper deficiency alters the role of other cellular constituents involved in antioxidant activities, such as iron, selenium, and glutathione and therefore plays an important role in diseases in which oxidative stress is elevated.
Where is Copper Helpful?
- Brain – The proper copper balance is needed for good brain health. High levels of copper can lead to oxidative damage. Also, excess copper may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease
- Red Blood Cells – Copper is involved in the formation of red blood cells, the absorption and utilization of iron, the metabolism of cholesterol and glucose and the synthesis and release of proteins and enzymes
- Immune System – Copper stimulates the immune system to fight infections, to repair injured tissues and to promote healing. It also helps to neutralize free radicals which can cause severe damage to cells
- Bone – Copper is necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bone
- Copper occurs naturally as native metallic copper and was known to some of the oldest civilizations on record. The history of copper use dates to 9000 BC in the Middle East.
- It is known to have antimicrobial properties. Ancient societies utilized this effect. And It is actively being investigated currently on how to best utilize materials made from copper public health.
- The penny is 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. It was 100% copper when it was first created in 1793.
Dr. Laurie Goldman is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and functional medicine practitioner who’s been in private practice since 1999. She founded Clear Path Wellness to help her patients reach their maximum state of mental and physical health using a personalized, comprehensive approach powered by the principles of functional medicine, which treats the whole person, not just symptoms.