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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Copper


Copper is an important nutrient required by all plants and animals. It is found in the blood, as a co-factor in various enzymes, and in copper-based pigments, in the higher animals. Copper, at times, can be poisonous and even fatal to organisms. These elements are required for metabolic processes, along with amino, fatty acids and vitamins. However, as the body cannot produce copper, the diet should be rich in it.

Copper is essential for hormone synthesis, transporting oxygen throughout the body and hair color maintenance. It is a necessity for many of the biochemical processes in the body to function in a normal manner. A balanced diet comprises of enough amounts of the major nutrients, carbohydrate, protein and fat. Trace minerals are required in minor amounts and thus they are referred to as ‘micronutrients’. They also play a vital role in determining the healthy life of an individual.

Copper is essential for the progress,  growth, and repairs of brain, bone, heart, connective tissue, and many other body organs. It is implicated in the red blood cells synthesis, the metabolism of iron, and the production of life-sustaining enzymes, which in turn fabricate blood coagulation, cellular energy and control nerve transmission, and oxygen transfer. Copper boosts the immune system by battling against infections and encourage healing, thereby resulting in infectious disease prevention. Copper also acts as a buffer in neutralizing free radicals, which can cause severe damage to cells, thereby preventing oxidative damage.

The adult body contains between 1.4 and 2.1mg of copper per kilogram of body weight. Copper in combination with a few proteins synthesizes enzymes. These enzymes act as catalysts to help hasten up a number of body functions. They provide the energy required by various biochemical and metabolic reactions. Some of these enzymes are involved in melanin transfer for skin pigmentation and others help in cross-links formation in collagen and elastin. Thus, maintenance and repair of connective tissues happens. Copper deficiency is a leading factor in increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Natural foods rich in copper include chickpeas, nuts, seeds, oysters and liver. Cereals, fish and meat contain adequate copper to provide up to 50% of the recommended intake in a balanced diet. In addition drinking water pipes also contribute to some amounts. Copper toxicity or Wilson's disease is a disorder accompanied by excessive retention of body copper. It is a hereditary disorder, wherein the unnecessary is stored in the brain, kidneys, liver and eyes. Excessive liver copper causes liver cirrhosis, a serious, life-threatening condition.

Submitted on January 16, 2014