Copper is an essential mineral having various human functions. Copper is essential for making collagen and is a component of antioxidant enzyme. Although a little bit of copper may be absorbed across the wall of the stomach, by and large most of the absorption takes place in the small intestine. From there copper is found in most tissue playing a role as an essential component of many enzymes with various roles throughout the body.
Copper is a chemical element with atomic number as 29. It is a soft, ductile and malleable metal with high electrical and thermal conductivity. The freshly exposed surface of pure copper is reddish-orange color. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity and as a constituent of various metal alloys. It is a vital trace element having essential role in biochemistry of living organisms and affects enzymes activity as a cofactor and integral structure of various metalloenzymes as ceruloplasmin, superoxide dismutase, cytochrome oxidase, lysyl oxidase and tyrosinase.
Copper is required for free radical defence, cellular respiration, tissue biosynthesis and neurotransmitter function. In comparison to zinc, it is soft and could be polished to bright finish. Copper has low chemical reactivity. In moist air, it forms greenish surface film known as patina, the coating protects metal from further attack.
What Foods Contain Copper?
The richest sources of copper include organ meats, shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, and certain vegetables such as spinach, peas, and potato varieties. Similar to the efficiency of absorption of several other minerals, copper absorption is also sensitive to the presence of other substances in the digestive tract. For instance, researchers have shown that substances such as vitamin C, fiber, and bile in excessive amounts can decrease the efficiency of copper absorption. Furthermore, increased consumption of zinc can decrease copper absorption, as mentioned previously.
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What Happens If We Get Too Little Copper?
Because of copper’s fundamental role in iron metabolism, copper deficiency can result in anemia. Scientists have also reported alterations in heart muscle tissue and function in animals fed diets low in copper. However, whether the same can be said for humans is not clear. Copper deficiency can alter white blood cell numbers in the blood as well as reduce immune functions.
What Happens If We Get Too Much Copper?
Long-term use of high level copper supplements may induce toxicity wherein the function of the liver, kidneys, and brain may become compromised. In an extreme case, Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic form of copper toxicity induced by increased copper storage.
History of Copper
Copper is an element which is an essential material since prehistoric times to humankind. Copper was the first metal which was used in quantity. Early people work with copper which could be hammered easily into sheets and sheets was turned into shapes which become complex as the skill increases. These early workers made these objects such as axe heads, arrow, scrapers, saws and cutting tools. Various castings were possible after an introduction of bronze. Copper and the principal alloys such as brass and bronze is more than means of decorative embellishment.
Iron is the basic metal of Western civilization from Rome onwards. Copper metals are used with durability and strength is required. The ability to resist disintegration assure that bronze, copper and brass remained as both decorative and functional materials during Middle Ages and successive centuries through Industrial revolution and on to cutting edge innovations of present day.
Health Benefits of Copper
Discussed below are some health benefits of copper:
- Maintain cholesterol level
The deficiency of copper level is associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research has shown that some patients with heart failure found to be helpful from copper supplements. Studies have associated low levels of copper to CVD but it is not known that the deficiency have same impact on humans.
- Nerve signaling
The chemist used fluorescent probe to track movement of copper in and out of nerve cells. Copper is related like dimmer or brake switch, one for each nerve cell. The high content of copper when enter a cell, it reduces neuron signaling. When copper level in the cell falls then signaling resumes.
- Strengthen immunity
The deficiency of copper results to neutropenia. It is the deficiency of neutrophils or white blood cells which counteract infection. It is the deficiency of neutrophils and white blood cells which counteract infection. The person having low content of neutrophils is prone to get an infectious disease.
- Combat osteoporosis
The deficiency of copper is related with low bone mineral density and prone to osteoporosis. But still more research is required on how deficiency of copper affects bone health and how supplementation of copper prevents or manage osteoporosis.
- Form collagen
Copper has a vital role in maintaining elastin and collagen which is a major structural component of body. It possesses antioxidant properties which is beneficial for preventing skin aging. With low amount of copper, body is not able to replace damaged connective tissue or collagen which makes scaffolding for bone. It helps to conclude wide range of problems such as joint dysfunction and body tissues begin to break.
- Brain health
Copper is a vital ingredient of enzymes which activates brain neurotransmitters. Research shows that adequate amounts of copper are essential for brain health. About 20 percent of inhaled oxygen is used by brain. As copper is found in brain, this organ needs adequate amount of copper. In adults neurodegeneration is associated to insufficient amount of copper levels. The symptoms of copper deficiency are poor mood and inability to concentrate.
- Promotes growth
The deficiency of copper is common in world and is mostly visible in children and they suffer from growth problem as well as developmental complications. Its deficiency affects bone and joint development and development of brain. Copper is essential for oxygenation of red blood cells and low amount of this mineral means this organ has inadequate levels of oxygen. It results to developmental issues. Copper deficiency delays in growth of infants.
- Thyroid health
Copper acts with zinc, potassium and calcium which help to promote thyroid health. It prevents the chances of hyperthyroidism. Studies show that copper metabolism is essential for preventing and managing thyroid disease.
- Healthy hair
Copper peptides help to increase hair follicles size and prevent thinning of hair. Copper assist in production of melanin which prevents premature hair graying.
Until 19th century, the hygienic properties of copper. Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecs and Romans have used copper compounds for treating disease and good hygiene. Copper was used by Egyptians as sterilization agent for wounds and drinking water. Hippocrates helps to treat skin irritations and open wounds with copper. Aztecs use it to treat sore throats whereas India and Persia apply copper to treat eye infections, boils and ulcers.
- The name copper is derived from Island of Cyprus.
- Usually copper is the most effective electrical conductor.
- Each year, about 20 million tonnes of copper is mined.
- Since 8000 BCE, copper has been used.
- Copper is a soft metal which is reddish orange having bright metallic luster.
- It is a ductile, malleable and excellent conductor of electricity and heat after silver.
- When copper is exposed to air, it turns to dull brownish color gradually.
- Statue of Liberty is made from about 179000 pounds of copper.
- In order to enjoy today’s standard of living, an average person uses 1500 pounds of copper.