Copper is essential for life
The estimated safe and adequate intake for copper is 1.5 - 3.0 mg/day. Many survey studies show that Americans consume about 1.0 mg or less of copper per day. Copper is found in vegan foods such as nuts [0.2 to 0.5 mg/28 g (1 Tbsp.)] and legumes (0.2 mg/serving). Grains, grain products have appreciable levels of copper. While these food items are good to excellent sources of copper, the absolute amount of copper absorbed may be influenced by other dietary components.
Copper absorption may be decreased by excess dietary iron or zinc. Conversely, too much copper may cause an iron deficiency. Excessive vitamin C supplementation results in decreased copper status. In rats, large doses of vitamin C can lead to copper deficiency. Other dietary components have an influence upon copper status, but not necessarily absorption. Feeding rats either sucrose or fructose, as opposed to glucose or cornstarch, decreases copper status and exacerbates the signs of copper deficiency.
Cases of copper toxicity are rare but may occur. Excess copper consumption may lead to liver damage. Intake of supplements exceeding 3 mg copper/day for a protracted period of time may be cause for concern. Doses of 10 mg/day over several weeks may lead to toxic symptoms, such as weakness and nausea.
Genetic Conditions relating to copper:
There are two well known genetic diseases affecting copper metabolism. Menkes' kinky¬hair disease is a problem with copper transport or absorption. Wilson's disease is characterized by increased liver copper content, leading to severe hepatic damage, followed by increased brain copper levels and neurological problems. Menkes' disease results in pathology resembling copper-deficiency, as opposed to the pathology of Wilson's disease, which resembles copper-toxicity. The Menkes' gene codes for a P-type ATPase that has a mutation that prevents copper absorption in the intestine.
Importance of Copper:
- Helps oxidize glucose and release energy.
- Helps the body absorb iron.
- Aids the thyroid gland in balancing and secreting hormones.
- Carries oxygen in the blood stream.
- Supplies the body's tissues with oxygen.
- Increases the body's energy levels.
- Aids in nerve and brain function.
- Needed for the functioning of the amino acid, tyrosine.
- Essential for making red blood cells.
- Helps the body absorb iron.
- Helps tyrosine work as a pigment factor.
- Helps supply oxygen to the brain.
- Enzyme component.
- Necessary for the synthesis of the hormone adrenaline.
- Associated with intestinal enzyme activity.
- Acts as a brain stimulant.
- Copper antagonizes manganese ions.
- Copper level in the body parallels estrogen levels.
- Copper is a natural yeast fighter.
- Copper improves epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine.
- Helps oxidize Vitamin C and works with Vitamin C to form Elastin, a chief component of the Elastin muscle fibers throughout the body - also aids in the formation of red blood cells.