Copper, red metal often used in the production of pots, as well as for dental fillings, is present in traces throughout the human body. In dietary supplements, this mineral is found in the form of copper carbonate, copper citrate and copper gluconate. Although this element is found in traces in many types of food, there is not much of it in the typical British diet. The best source of copper are shells, livers, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
How does it work?
Copper is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, the basic protein in the bones, skin and connective tissue. It is also important in the production of red blood cells, helps in the using of stored iron, and is important for immunity and fertility. It is also involved in creating melanin (a natural dark pigment found in hair, skin and eyes), so it is essential for permanent pigmentation.
PREVENTION: there are evidences that copper can help prevent high blood pressure and heart beat (arrhythmia) disorders. Some think that it prevents tissue damage by free radicals and thereby help prevents cancer, heart disease, and other problems. A sufficient level of copper in the body helps maintain a low level of cholesterol.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: copper is necessary for the synthesis of many enzymes, especially superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. It can also help stop bone loss caused by osteoporosis.
How much copper is needed?
Although RDA values have not been established, adults are advised to take 1.5 to 3 mp of this element a day for normal functioning of the body.
IF YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE: the real lack of copper is rare. It mainly occurs in people with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, as well as in those with congential disorders, such as albinism. Symptoms of copper deficiency are: tiredness, heart rhythm disturbances, high blood pressure, anemia, skeletal deformities and infertility.
However, even a slight deficiency of this mineral can have an adverse effect on health. Thus, the first results of one study conducted at 24 individuals show that diet with small copper intake leads to a significant rise of ”bad” (LDL) and drop of ”good” (HDL) cholesterol levels. These changes of cholesterol levels have increased the risk of heart disease.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH: only 10 mg of copper, if taken suddenly, can cause nausea and pain in the muscles and stomach. To date, no heavy copper poisoning has been reported as a result of dietary supplements intake. But in some people, who work with pesticides, copper poisoning led to heavy liver damage, coma or even death.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: unless otherwise specified by your doctor, copper is taken exclusively as part of a multivitamin or multimineral preparation that does not contain more than 1 mg of copper per day.
USE GUIDELINES: it is advisable to take dietary supplements at the same time each day, preferably with food, to prevent stomach iritation.
Great sources of copper are oysters, lobsters, crabs and entrails. If you are watching on your cholesterol levels, you should know that this minerals is also in vegetarian diet. You can find it in legumes, whole grains, especially rice and wheat and their products (bread, flakes, pasta), nuts and seeds. Copper is also in vegetables such as peas, artichoke, avocado, radish, garlic, mushrooms and potatoes. Copper in traces is in tomatoes, bananas and dried raspberries. Copper is also in soya.
IMPORTANT: if you have any illness, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.