What is copper?
Copper (Cu) is an essential trace element for both humans and animals. However, needed only in trace amounts, the human body contains approximately 100 mg of Cu.
It is involved in the function of several enzymes, including cytochrome C oxidase, amino acid oxidase, superoxide dismutase and monoamine oxidase. Copper is thought to be necessary for infant growth, defence mechanisms, bone integrity, red and white blood cell maturation, iron transport, cholesterol and glucose metabolism, myocardial contractility and brain development.
Properties of copper
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) endorses the following health properties for copper contributes to:
- The maintenance of normal connective tissue.
- The normal functioning of the nervous system and immune system.
- Normal hair pigmentation, skin pigmentation and energy metabolism.
- Contributes to the normal transport of iron in the body and the protection of cells against oxidative damage.
What are the effects of copper on our body?
As we have seen, copper plays important roles in our bodies. Thus, some studies confirm its usefulness in bones, skin, hair and during pregnancy. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Studies in adults have suggested that copper may affect bone health (bone is a type of connective tissue). Thus, a study of elderly patients with low blood copper levels revealed a significantly increased incidence of femoral neck fractures compared to age-matched controls. In addition, another study of elderly patients who had been bedridden for 12 months or more and showed signs of copper deficiency found that copper supplementation improved copper status and bone markers of bone resorption and bone formation.5
In a long-term study in healthy young men fed a controlled diet, copper content in scalp hair increased from 9.2 ± 3.1 to 21.1 ± 5.9 μg/g when intake increased from 1.6 to 7.8 mg/day.1
In pregnant women, copper primarily protects the body’s cells from the toxicity of superoxide ions, thereby promoting growth and development. Progesterone stimulates the liver to increase the synthesis of ceruloplasmin, which can promote foetal growth and development, supply nutrition and boost immune function.
Reference amount of copper in the population
The daily intake of copper recommended by EFSA varies according to age, gender and other factors for:
- Adult males over the age of 18, the recommended daily amount of copper is 1.6 mg/day, while for adult females it is 1.3 mg/day.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women, the amount would be slightly higher, at 1.5 mg/day.
- Children under the age of 18, the quantities also vary slightly according to age and gender.
- Children progressed 4-9 times of both genders, the recommended diurnal quantum of bobby is 1mg/ day.
- Boys and adolescent boys progressed 10-17 times, the quantum is1.3 mg/ day, while for girls and adolescent girls progressed 10-17 times it’s1.1 mg/ day.
Copper safety profile
On the question of whether high levels of copper can be toxic or harmful, acute copper toxicity is rare, but can occur as a result of contamination of food or drink. However, the emetic properties and unpleasant taste of copper salts prevent their frequent accidental or deliberate ingestion. The amount that can cause this toxicity is generally above 15-25 mg/day.
Where do we get the copper we need?
Food is the main source of intake. There are also copper-containing supplements that can help supplement the diet. It is also present in food in the form of copper complexes and is released in the stomach due to the acidic pH of gastric juice.
What influences the bioavailability of copper?
Firstly, there are components of the diet that can interact with copper and influence its bioavailability and absorption in the body. On the one hand, amino acids, proteins and fructose increase copper absorption, while ascorbic acid and phytate decrease it.
Particularly high concentrations are found in organ meats (e.g. liver 157 mg/kg), seafood (40 mg/kg), and nuts (8 mg/kg). It is also found in dried pulses, whole grains and cereals.
Copper-containing food supplements
There are also supplements that can help supplement your diet. They usually come in capsule or powder form, combined with vitamins, minerals and plant extracts, with recommendations for use in pregnant women, as well as for maintaining connective tissues (such as bones and joints).
- Bost, M. et al.
- DiBaise, M. & S. M. Tarleton. Hair, Nails, and Skin: Differentiating Cutaneous Manifestations of Micronutrient Deficiency. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. Volume 34 Number 4, August 2019 490–503.
- Holman, J. (Tyler, TX). Specific Use: Cosmeceuticals for Hair Loss and Hair Care. In Cosmeceuticals. J. Comstock (ed.). Copyright 2021 by S. Karger AG, ISBN 9783318066890.
- Langman, M. Safe Upper Levels for Vitamins and Minerals. Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, May 2003. Published by Food Standards Agency. ISBN 1-904026-11-7.
- Medeiros, D. M.Iron, and selenium dietary deficiencies negatively impact skeletal integrity: A review. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2016 Jun;241(12):1316-22.
- Rahman, F. & Q. S. Akhter. Serum zinc levels in Alopecia. Journal of Bangladesh Society of Physiologist 14.1 (2019): 21-25.
- Shen, P.J. et al. Four trace elements in pregnant women and their relationships with adverse pregnancy outcomes. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. 2015; 19: 4690-4697.