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What role does Copper play in supporting our body's functions?

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Copper is an essential trace element that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions within the human body. It is necessary for maintaining overall health and is involved in numerous biochemical processes.


Some key reasons why copper is important to the human body include:
  1. Iron Metabolism: Copper is involved in the metabolism of iron. It helps the body absorb iron from the digestive tract and mobilizes iron from storage sites in the liver. This is important for the formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells.
  2. Connective Tissue Formation: Copper is a cofactor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, which are crucial components of connective tissues, skin, and blood vessels. Proper connective tissue formation is essential for wound healing, skin health, and overall structural integrity.
  3. Neurological Function: Copper plays a role in the normal functioning of the nervous system. It is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, and helps protect nerve cells from oxidative damage.
  4. Antioxidant Defense: Copper is a component of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which helps neutralize harmful free radicals. This antioxidant activity is important for protecting cells and tissues from oxidative stress.
  5. Immune System Support: Copper is involved in the development and function of immune cells. It contributes to the production of white blood cells and helps regulate the immune response.
  6. Bone Health: Copper plays a role in the formation and maintenance of bone tissue. It is involved in the cross-linking of collagen fibers, which contributes to bone strength and structure.
Dietary sources of copper include:
  • Organ meats
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Leafy green vegetables
While copper is essential for health, excessive intake can lead to toxicity, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Certain genetic conditions, such as Wilson's disease, can affect copper metabolism and lead to copper accumulation in the body.

Maintaining a balanced intake of copper from dietary sources is generally sufficient to meet the body's needs. If there are concerns about copper status, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

-- Written by Hala, founder of Dietapplements

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