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.
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