Copper: Health Benefits and Risks
Copper is an essential mineral to maintain our health. It has cuproenzymes that help with energy production, neurotransmitter synthesis, connective tissue synthesis, iron metabolism, and other important functions. It is, furthermore, required for various psychological processes like brain development, gene expression, pigment formation, and immune system functioning. The mineral also helps produce red blood cells. Most of the copper we consume through our everyday diet is in our muscles, kidneys, liver, brain, and heart.
A variety of animal foods and plants like shellfish, nuts, chocolates, whole grain products, wheat bran cereals, potatoes, beef, oysters, etc contain copper. Furthermore, the tap water that we consume also has some copper. Having a copper deficiency can lead to anemia, hypopigmentation, osteoporosis, risks of infection, and connective tissue disorders.
Our usual diet contains copper. As a result, the chances of getting copper deficiencies are minute. People who can develop a copper deficiency include those with celiac disease and Menkes disease. Also, people who take high doses of zinc supplements might develop copper deficiency as consuming high zinc can lead to lower absorption of the copper mineral.
A copper deficiency in the body can lead to:
Cardiovascular Diseases: several animal studies have demonstrated that a copper deficiency can cause high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Alzheimer’s Disease: The etiological cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can also be a deficiency in dietary copper.
Problems in Immune Function: A low amount of copper can also result in a deficiency of white blood cells called neutropenia. White cells are the ones fighting off the infections. When they drop in numbers, there can be problems in immune function.
Osteoporosis: Several researchers have also highlighted that a lack of copper in our body might lead to high risks of osteoporosis although more research is required to affirm the findings.
Copper: Health Benefits
The mineral helps us in several ways:
- Arthritis: A few studies performed on animals have revealed that the copper mineral can help delay arthritis. More studies have yet to be undertaken to confirm the reality of the studies performed on animals.
- Collagen Production: A few studies also point towards the mineral’s capability of preventing skin aging in people. It helps maintain the levels of collagen and elastin. It is believed that it contains antioxidants, which, with the help of other antioxidants, can help prevent aging.
- Bone Loss: Enzyme lysyl oxidase is required for the formation of bones. Copper, being a cofactor of the enzyme, also proves to help prevent bone loss. Various studies have demonstrated the mineral’s success in lowering bone loss among women with postmenopausal symptoms.
- Increases Energy Production: Copper is additionally effective for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate. Adenosine triphosphate helps retain the energy in our body, which helps us get through the day.
- Helps in Thyroid: A balanced and sufficient amount of copper consumption ensures the proper functioning of thyroid glands. However, do not ignore the fact that excessive amounts of copper can also lead to poor functioning of these glands. Consequently, it is indispensable to maintain a healthy equilibrium.
- Production of HDL Cholesterol: The right amount of copper intake is also beneficial for the production of HDL cholesterol which is healthy for our body. Furthermore, it reduces the production of LDL or bad cholesterol.
Health Risks from the Excess of Copper
An excessive amount of copper can also lead to health issues like abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can furthermore result in developing liver diseases. Healthy individuals are unlikely to have an excess of copper in their bodies unless they inherit a copper homeostasis defect from their parents.
Copper is an essential mineral to continue living healthy. It can help prevent arthritis, bone loss, thyroid, and LDL cholesterol. It furthermore aids in the production of RBCs, HDL cholesterol, and collagen.
Despite the numerous benefits of the mineral, an excess amount can cause detrimental impacts on human health. It is crucial to consume a healthy routine diet that maintains a required balance of copper in your body.