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Copper

What does copper do?
Copper is an essential trace element present in the diet and in the human body. It is needed to absorb and utilize iron. It is also part of the antioxidantenzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD). Copper is needed to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy the body runs on. Synthesis of some hormones requires copper, as does the synthesis of collagen (the "glue" that holds connective tissue together). In addition, the enzyme, tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment, requires copper to function.

Copper supplementation has been shown to increase SOD levels in humans.1

Where is copper found?
The best source of copper is oysters. Nuts, dried legumes, cereals, potatoes, vegetables, and meat also contain copper.

Copper has been used in connection with the following conditions 
(refer to the individual health concern for complete information):


Rating
Health Concerns
er

Anemia

we

High cholesterol
Menkes’ disease (injectable copper histidine)
Osteoporosis
Wound healing

sd

Athletic performance
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Cardiac arrhythmia
Hypoglycemia
Peripheral vascular disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sprains and strains

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.












 

 

 

 

 

 





Who is likely to be deficient of copper?
Many people consume slightly less than the “safe and adequate range” of copper, 1.5–3.0 mg per day. Little is known about the clinical effects of these marginally adequate intakes, though frank copper deficiency is uncommon. Children with Menkes’ disease are unable to absorb copper normally and become severely deficient unless medically treated early in life. Deficiency can also occur in people who supplement with zinc without also increasing copper intake. Zinc interferes with copper absorption.2 Health consequences of zinc-induced copper deficiency can be quite serious.3 In the absence of copper supplementation, vitamin C supplementation has also been reported to mildly impair copper metabolism.4 Copper deficiency can result in anemia, lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or cardiac arrhythmias.

How much copper is usually taken?
Most people consume less than the recommended amount of this mineral. Some doctors recommend supplementing the average diet with 1–3 mg of copper per day. While the necessity of supplementing a normal diet with copper has not been proven, most people who take zinc supplements, including the zinc found in multivitamin-mineral supplements, should probably take additional copper.

Cupric oxide (CuO) is a form of copper frequently used in vitamin-mineral supplements sold over-the-counter. However, animal studies have shown conclusively this form of copper is poorly absorbed from the gut; it should therefore not be used in supplements.5 6 7 8Several other forms of copper (including copper sulfate, cupric acetate, and alkaline copper carbonate) are better absorbed, and are therefore preferable to cupric oxide.9

Are there any side effects or interactions with copper?
The level at which copper causes problems is unclear. But in combination with zinc, up to 3 mg per day is considered safe. People drinking tap water from new copper pipes should consult their doctor before supplementing, since they might be getting enough (or even too much) copper from their water. People with Wilson’s disease should never take copper.

Zinc interferes with copper absorption. People taking zinc supplements for more than a few weeks should also take copper (unless they have Wilson’s disease). In the absence of copper supplementation, vitamin C may interfere with copper metabolism. Copper improves absorption and utilization of iron.

Preliminary evidence shows that the levels of copper in the blood were higher among people who died from coronary heart disease than among those who did not.10 However, animals studies and some human studies suggest that, if anything, copper may prevent the development of heart disease. Although it is not clear why people who died of heart disease had elevated copper levels, this finding could be due to chronic inflammation, which is known to be associated with increased copper levels.11

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with copper. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

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