Copper is the third most abundant trace element in the human body after zinc and iron. It is found in all the tissues but is stored primarily in the liver. Human beings require small portions of this mineral in their diet. However it is often deficient in a person’s diet as food sources high in this vitamin are often ignored.
The human body contains approximately 100-500 mg of copper but its role cannot be undermined. Copper is used by the body in the manufacture of various enzymes, some of which act as antioxidants. These enzymes are involved in haemoglobin and collagen formation. Copper and iron work together to make red blood cells and it is a major component of the outer coating of nerve fibres and collagen. Copper is needed in the body to produce the antioxidant, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).
History of Copper:
The copper history dates back to the early Roman Civilization, even before the discovery of microorganisms. Copper was used by the citizens to improve hygiene. It was believed that storing water in copper made it safe to drink and copper utensils and cookware helped to prevent the spread of diseases. Later, with the discovery of microbes, scientists began to understand that the antimicrobial properties of copper could be used to fight infection linked bacteria and other infection and disease causing microorganisms. In the present scenario, the antimicrobial properties of copper are increasingly being used in pesticides, fungicides, antimicrobial medicines, antifouling paints, medical devices, antiseptics, and sinks for kitchen and bath environment.
Sources of Copper:
A balanced diet contains enough copper required by the body. Food that are good sources of copper include wholegrain cereals, legumes, oysters, dried brewer’s yeast, dark chocolate, cherries, fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, chicken, cherries, prunes, soybeans, tofu etc. Organ meat such as liver and blackstrap molasses are excellent sources of copper.
Daily Requirement of Copper:
The daily intake of copper varies from person to person. However the daily intake is suggested to be 0.9 to 1.3 mg/day in adults. It is advisable to consult a physician before taking supplements.
Food Sources of Copper:
|Brazil Nuts||0.5 mg||25%|
|Sunflower Seeds||0.5 mg||25%|
|Pumpkin Seeds||0.4 mg||20%|
|Sweet Potatoes||0.3 mg||15%|
|Coconut (Mature)||0.2 mg||10%|
Copper is one of a relatively small group of metallic elements which exhibits numerous health benefits. These elements, together with fatty and amino acids and vitamins help to trigger regular metabolic processes. Deficiency of copper in the human body is a common phenomenon as it cannot be produced within the human body. Thus, it is essential that the human diet must supply regular dose of copper.
The intake of copper is vital for maintaining a healthy existence. When taken in the right amounts, it provides the following health benefits:
1. Proper growth:
Copper is essential for proper growth. It must be bound to a protein to be usable. Since the human body cannot effectively synthesize copper, it should form part of the regular diet in the right proportions.
2. Utilization of iron:
Copper helps in the utilization of iron within the human body and helps the body absorb iron. Iron deficiency in the body is often associated with copper from the intestinal tract. It helps oxidize glucose and release energy.
3. Treatment of arthritis and osteoporosis:
Due to its anti-carcinogenic properties, copper inside the body helps in the alleviation of arthritis pain. Approximately 50% of the body’s total copper is contained in the bones and the muscles. Therefore it is a common treatment for arthritis and osteoporosis as it helps promote healthy collagen in the body. Being a part of compounds like ceruloplasmin and SOD, copper helps reduce arthritis symptoms.
4. Pigmentation of skin, hair and eyes:
The presence of copper can be explained in two forms, copper gluconate and copper sulphate. Virtually found in every cell of the human body, this trace element helps in the production of melanin in the human body which is responsible for the pigmentation of skin, hair and eyes.
5. RBC formation:
Copper plays an important role along with iron in the supply of healthy, oxygenated blood. Together with iron, it helps in the respiration and synthesis of haemoglobin and releases iron needed to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells. For this reason, it is sometimes used in the treatment of anaemia.
6. Connective tissues:
Copper plays a significant role in maintaining the health of the myelin sheath, a material that protects and surrounds the nerves. Besides, it helps regulate the function of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for creation of collagen in bones and connective tissues.
7. Thyroid Glands:
Copper assists the thyroid glands in balancing and secreting hormones. It plays a significant role in proper functioning of the thyroid glands.
8. Brain stimulation:
By supplying oxygen to the brain, it helps in nerve and brain functions. That is why copper is widely known as a brain stimulant or brain food. However too much copper is also not healthy for the brain.
9. Reducing cholesterol level:
Copper possesses certain properties which aid in reducing bad cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol. Thus it offers protection from heart diseases and stops the formation of clots.
10. Enzymatic reactions:
Copper is an element of 50 types of enzymes, many of which work as antioxidants.
11. Antibacterial properties:
Extensive studies have shown that copper has antibacterial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria such as e coli. A
12. Essential for foetuses, infants and children:
Copper is vital for the growth and development of foetuses, infants and children. Deficiency of copper in pregnant mothers triggers various health problems in infants like muscle weaknesses and neurologic problems.
Copper Benefits for skin:
Besides its numerous health benefits, copper plays an important role in skin care too. So far, we have learnt that copper aids in the production of melanin which is responsible for the colour of the skin and hair. Copper peptides and copper gluconates are a promising treatment in skincare. Copper ingredients aid in collagen production and skin regeneration and increase the effects of antioxidants.
1. Copper Peptides and skin care:
Very few people are familiar with the term copper peptides, but they are one of the most effective skin regeneration products. Peptides are fragments of proteins which play an important role in skincare, particularly in repairing damaged tissue and constructing new tissue. Copper is instrumental in attracting these peptides and binding with them, thus forming copper peptides. Thus copper plays an important role in carrying nourishing protein to damaged skin. Copper peptides thus offer the following benefits.
- Help in skin regeneration, which is very effective in healing wounds and skin lesions.
- The anti-inflammatory qualities of peptides allow it to treat a wide range of skin irritation.
- Regenerate new collagen and elastin, thus improving firmness, softness and elasticity of skin, which results in a youthful appearance.
- The collagen production helps in filling fine lines and wrinkles, while elastin stimulation firms the skin and prevents the sagging that often leads to wrinkles.
- Help in repairing the damage to the protective skin barrier, rebuilding the skin and removing the scars.
- Peptides regulate the growth rate and migration of various cells in the skin which prevent the release of oxidation promoting iron into the tissue resulting in a cleaner look.
2. Copper Gluconate and skincare:
- Copper Gluconate is an odourless, white crystalline powder which is used in a variety of skin-care and cleansing products.
- Since it is gentle on the skin, it is used in the treatment of sensitive aging skin. The gluconic acid contained in copper gluconate cleanses and conditions the skin and destroys harmful micro organisms
Copper Benefits for hair:
The benefits of copper for hair are no less important than the other benefits it offers. Skin remodelling copper peptides (SCRPs) are used in gels, creams, lotions, shampoos and conditioners. The presence of these protein peptides enable the wounds bordered by hair to get healed relatively quickly. SCRPs are particularly beneficial for those healing their scalp and re growing their hair after chemotherapy as they enlarge follicles and reduce the hair growth resting phase in the course of healing wounds. Copper ingredients are useful for hair in the following manner.
1. Useful during chemotherapy: Chemotherapy results in the killing of healthy cells along with the cancerous ones, leading to hair loss and skin that is dry, cracked, itchy and red. Being an anti-inflammatory, copper peptides helps in healing these conditions. They increase the amount of subcutaneous fat and hair follicle size which is reduced during chemotherapy.
2. Hair Transplants: Due to their healing properties, copper peptides promote rapid growth of transplanted hair and reduce the appearance of scars. Gauzes saturated with copper peptides are applied during the first three days of surgery to facilitate quick healing.
3. Scalp treatments: Copper peptides are used for regular scalp treatments and also in hair tonics for overall hair and scalp treatment.
4. Other benefits: Copper peptides prevent and reverse the greying of hair as they aid the melanin pigment production. They improve the nutrient flow from the blood by rebuilding capillaries around the follicles. Moreover, they inhibit the DHT, the hormone that causes alopecia. Due to their healing qualities, they repair scalp damage due to chemical and thermal treatments which leads to hair thinning over time.
Deficiency symptoms of copper:
Copper deficiency symptoms are recorded as the following in human beings
- Depletion of oxygen in the cells
- Skin problems
- Premature greying and hair loss
- Weak blood vessels
- Irregular heartbeat
- Brittle bones
- High level of cholesterol
- Low white blood cell count
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