How To Avoid Copper Deficiency
You might already know that copper is essential for the building industry. But did you know that it is essential in your body too? As humans, copper deficiency is something we definitely want to avoid.
Don’t worry if you don’t know much about copper - beyond that it’s used for things like kitchen pots and pans, construction pipes and jewelry. This is a secretive mineral!
Despite being prescribed by Hippocrates to treat a variety of diseases as early as 400 BC, modern science is still discovering the intricate and exciting ways it works inside the human body.
However, it is becoming more understood that copper is useful and plays a part in many different bodily processes.
It’s known that copper is necessary for oxidation-reduction reactions. These are the most basic chemical reactions that pass electrons to and fro, and spin the cogs that sustain life.
Copper is most well recognized as a coenzyme in these tiny cellular processes, supplying the body with energy, metabolizing iron, strengthening connective tissue and creating neurotransmitters.
In fact, this mineral is the main functional component of essential enzymes known as cuproenzymes. One of these is cytochrome c oxidase, which plays an important role in cellular energy production. Cytochrome c oxidase creates the vital energy-storing molecule, ATP.
In Athletic Greens we include copper as copper gluconate. Copper gluconate is a popular form of supplementation to help avoid copper deficiency. The soluble combination of copper and gluconic acid is easily digestible for your body.
The Background Of Copper
In its natural form copper is a beautiful metal. You’ve no doubt seen its gorgeous red colour in jewelry for example.
If you think about it, it’s the only metal other than gold on the periodic table which isn’t grey or silver in its natural form.
Copper has been prized for thousands of years. It’s even believed that copper was one of the first metals that humans manipulated for use in tools, over ten thousand years ago!
Thanks to its natural properties, including electrical and heat conductivity, malleability and toughness, copper has become a hugely important metal in industry today. It’s only beaten out by iron and aluminium.
In food, copper is abundant in organ meats, seafood and shellfish, nuts and seeds, cereals, whole grains and cocoa.
So why do we want to avoid copper deficiency? Or more to the point, how can something that’s good for conducting electricity be good for our body?
The Features And Benefits Of Copper
Copper is an essential trace mineral which belongs in the body in small amounts.
It is essential for:
✔ Energy production
The copper-containing enzyme cytochrome c oxidase is vital for cellular energy production.
✔ Healthy connective tissue
Copper links collagen and elastin, which is vital for strong, supple, youthful skin. This role extends to blood vessels, the heart, and even bone.
✔ Healthy iron levels
Copper enzymes allow the body to metabolize iron.
✔ Nervous system function
Copper plays an important role in the creation of neurotransmitters, and in forming and preserving myelin - the protective sheath covering the spine and brain.
✔ Skin health
Copper helps create melanin - the skin’s natural protective pigment (essentially, your tan!)
✔ Antioxidant protection
Copper is an ingredient in some very important bodily antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and ceruloplasmin.
✔ For regulating gene expression
Copper plays a role in how proteins that make up DNA are placed, joined and copied, as well as how these genes are expressed.
Possible therapeutic benefits of copper include:
→ Preventing cardiovascular disease
More studies are needed to determine copper’s exact role in cardiovascular health - but it appears that both too much or too little copper produce negative effects.
Copper may cause oxidation at high levels, but is also essential for various antioxidants that protect the heart and blood vessels.
→ Maintaining immune function
Copper’s role in immune function is not yet entirely understood, however copper deficiency appears to be linked with malfunctioning white blood cells and recurrent infections.
→ Treating and preventing osteoporosis
There is some evidence to suggest that copper may help bones stay strong, due to its ability to build and remineralize tissue.
Avoiding Copper Deficiency
Like most trace minerals, soil levels around the world are also being depleted of copper. This means most people have low levels of important minerals.
Supplementation of copper (particularly as copper gluconate) in order to avoid copper deficiency is becoming more common. While no clear therapeutic dosage has been established, the recommended daily intake is currently 900 μg per day for adults.
This is enough to prevent copper deficiency. Doses of 1 mg appear to be safe for short term use, but should be avoided in the long term.
High levels of copper can cause zinc imbalance, and vice versa. Little is known about how copper interacts with other medications, however those with hereditary copper-accumulation disorders such as Wilson’s disease should certainly avoid copper supplements.
In our greens mix we include copper to help provide the right amount. And it works well with other ingredients in Athletic Greens too. Copper as copper gluconate works with CoQ10 when it comes to improving cellular energy production, with vitamin C, grapeseed extract and zinc for improving skin quality, and with magnesium for improving nervous system function.
While not super common, copper is often included in joint formulas to help with strong bones and preventing the onset of osteoporosis. It is sometimes also recommended to help with nervous system function along with magnesium. And it’s sometimes prescribed to people who have been supplementing with too much zinc, as this can lead to reduced copper levels.
To sum up: Avoiding copper deficiency is key!
There’s still much research to be done on the functions and benefits of copper, but it’s certainly essential - in the right dose - for facilitating some of the most important processes in the human body.
These include DNA transcription, energy production, bone mineralization and the function of antioxidants.
Research also suggests that careful copper supplementation can be useful for cardiovascular, bone and nervous system health.
Copper deficiency is something you can easily avoid, and if you take your daily Athletic Greens supplement, you’ll be getting the correct dose every day so it doesn’t become an issue for you!