Copper

December 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Elements

Keywords: detoxification, adrenal glands, haemoglobin

Functions

  • Assists iron absorption and transport
  • Connective tissue and blood vessel maintenance
  • Cholesterol regulation
  • Energy production
  • Haemoglobin
  • Inactivation of histamine
  • Maintenance of myelin sheath around nerve fibres
  • Needed to make ceruloplasmin
  • Needed to make antioxidant enzyme SOD
  • Needed to make cytochrome oxidase (detoxifying) enzymes
  • Pigments in skin and hair
  • Production of adrenal hormones

Good food sources

  • Avocado pears
  • Liver
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Pulses
  • Shellfish
  • Whole grains

Deficiency symptoms

  • Anaemia (resulting in fatigue)
  • Depigmentation of skin
  • Haemorrhaging of blood vessels
  • Hypothermia
  • Kinky hair

Preventing deficiency

As for most nutrients, a diet high in whole grains and other wholefoods is protective against deficiencies. Large doses of vitamin C or zinc taken daily on a long-term basis may result in depletion of copper levels, therefore it would be prudent to include a daily copper supplement (which should not be taken at the same time) to prevent this. Many multimineral or multinutrient supplements exclude copper because of theories that large sectors of the population are already consuming excessive amounts of copper from non-dietary sources. If copper intake is in fact too low rather than too high, such supplements may aggravate a copper deficiency by providing large amounts of nutrients (such as zinc) which compete with copper for absorption.

Comments

Copper is not just obtained from the diet. Copper pipes carrying household water supplies, copper cookware, processed food, pesticide and fungicide residues in food, and copper containers can add significant amounts of copper to our dietary intake. Use of the contraceptive pill can result in elevated blood copper levels.

Environmental medicine specialists sometimes find that patients suffering from chemical sensitivities need supplementary copper to help in their detoxification process.

Information compiled by Linda Lazarides
Naturopathic Nutritionist, Author, Educator

Linda Lazarides is Course Director of the School of Modern Naturopathy and author of eight books on health, nutrition and naturopathy.

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