6 Health Benefits of Copper You Wish You Knew Before
Copper was used by the early Roman Civilization to improve hygiene. It was believed that storing water in copper vessels made it safe to drink. This is because copper utensils and cookware prevent the spread of diseases and infections. Later, with the discovery of microbes, scientists began to understand that the antimicrobial properties of copper could be used to fight infection and disease-causing microorganisms. Read on to know more about the health benefits of copper!
Nowadays, the anti-microbial properties of copper are increasingly being used in pesticides, fungicides, antimicrobial medicines, antifouling paints, medical devices, antiseptics, and utensils.
Health Benefits of Copper
Copper is an essential micronutrient that offers several health benefits such as maintaining metabolic processes, improving skin health and treating wounds and skin conditions among several other health benefits.
Let’s delve deeper into some of the major health benefits of copper.
Ensures Proper Growth
Copper is essential for normal growth and health. Thus, it is very important to include balanced levels of this mineral in your regular diet. It also confers protection to the skeletal, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
If you suffer from its deficiency, the normal and healthy growth of organs and tissues as well as their proper oxygenation would be impossible. Copper deficiencies are common in many third world countries and are reflected in a number of birth and growth defects in children of those nations.
Regulates Melanin Production
Copper is a vital component of the natural dark pigment, melanin, which imparts colour to the skin, hair, and eyes. Melanocytes produce melanin only in the presence of an enzyme called tyrosinase.
Although copper is often overlooked as an antioxidant mineral, it does confer antioxidative protection to your body cells and keeps you looking young and fit! Thus, copper benefits for grey hair and skin pigmentation. It also helps maintain the pigmentation of your eyes, and is essential, along with zinc, to keep your eyes beautifully coloured into your old age.
Absorption of Iron & Sugar
Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and in its release from the liver. It also aids in the utilization of sugar in the body. Copper guarantees a healthy RBC count and proper oxygenation of different organ systems by helping in the absorption of iron from food and other supplemental sources. Without an adequate intake of iron, people suffer from iron deficiency anaemia, which can result in fatigue, muscle ache, digestive problems, and general weakness.
Prevents Premature Aging
Copper is a strong antioxidant, which works in the presence of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase to protect the cell and its complex biomolecules from free radicals. Superoxide dismutase is one of the strongest antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals.
Prolonged exposure to free radicals can result in aging, wrinkles, age spots, increased susceptibility to various types of cancer, macular degeneration and even kidney malfunction. Thus, having enough copper in your daily diet can keep you looking younger for longer!
Increases Energy Production
Copper is essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the human body’s primary form of energy storage. The cuproenzyme, cytochrome c oxidase has a very strong influence on intracellular energy production. Therefore, when we have optimal copper levels in our body, we will feel active and energetic enough to get through the day without feeling fatigued or tired.
Other Health Benefits of Copper
Copper is an important micronutrient that plays a significant role in the synthesis of a variety of critically important biomolecules including haemoglobin, melanin, and collagen. It helps protect the myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves from damage, thus maintaining the integrity of the nervous system. It is also actively involved in the production of elastin, a protein that keeps the skin flexible and makes it less prone to sagging and wrinkles.
Copper deficiency is much more common in malnourished populations suffering from a general lack of calories and consequently not getting enough copper-rich foods. People suffering from serious digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease can have copper deficiencies as it impairs nutrient absorption.
Iron and zinc overdose usually from supplements can impair copper absorption. Since these minerals work together to balance the body, having very high levels of one can negatively impact the other. Severe anorexia or starvation and serious kidney disorders can all contribute towards a copper deficiency.
Symptoms of copper deficiency include:
- Dry skin
- Problems with hair
- Stunted growth
- Bleeding under the skin, and
Good food sources
Copper sources include green vegetables, prunes, beans, peas, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnip greens and mushrooms. Other sources include beef liver, fish, mackerel, clams, crabmeat, lobster and oysters. Nuts particularly walnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts and cashews, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds also contains copper.
Bread and cereals made from whole grains and barley are some rich sources of copper. It also enters the human body through drinking water from copper pipes and copper utensils. Hence, storing water in copper vessels can be a good way of increasing your copper intake. Oysters are one of the richest sources of copper.
Normal dietary consumption of copper does not have any adverse effect on our health. However, symptoms can appear if there is excessive intake due to high levels of copper in drinking water, such as well water or water coming from copper pipes, exposure to chemicals containing high levels of copper and use of copper cookware.
Signs of copper toxicity include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, headache, dizziness, weakness and a metallic taste in the mouth. More serious effects, although rare, include cirrhosis and jaundice, abnormalities in red blood cells and heart problems. Increased serum copper levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Water that contains more than 6 mg/l of copper may cause stomach problems. However, if drinking water appears to trigger symptoms, the individual should see about getting it tested.
Thus, there are several health benefits of copper. You must include this essential micronutrient in your daily diet. Know other health benefits of copper? Let us know in the comments below!
The body is able to store this mineral for later use. Hence, it is not necessary to rely on daily dietary intake. However, the recommended daily allowance for copper is 1.2 milligrams.