The Other Mineral
Copper is a heavy metal mineral that is found throughout the human body. It is essential for many functions, yet your body only needs trace amounts.
Copper is a key component in a number of functions, including:
- formation of red blood cells
- maintainance of bone, muscle and brain tissue
- absorption of iron
- Wound healing
Deficiency is rare. The mineral is only needed in very small, trace amounts.As a result, it is rare to see copper deficiency among the normal population. Most studies don’t show a need for copper supplementation for those with an average diet. New research does show that overall levels of copper found in western diets are on the decline.
There are a few things that can cause a deficiency. Taking too much supplemental zinc for long periods of time can negatively affect copper levels in the tissue. For this reason some zinc supplements contain trace amounts of copper. A ratio of 10:1 Zinc:Copper is recommended. Digestive issues or diseases like Chron’s, that limit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, can also lead to a deficiency. Furthermore, those who have had surgeries (intestinal bypass) or are assisted by feeding tubes will be more likely to suffer from a deficiency. Under these circumstances, a copper supplement would be considered.
Copper also may be recommended for those with anemia. Copper assists in the absorption of iron.
Symptoms of Deficiency
While a deficiency is uncommon, it is not unheard of.
Here are a few symptoms that can be associated with copper deficiency:
- Loss of vision
- Loss of balance
Copper Rich Foods
Copper can be found in many healthy, tasty meat or vegetable sources. Organs such as the liver and heart contain copper. Shellfish (crabs, lobster, oysters) also contains a significant amount. Common vegetables like potatoes, peas and beans contain copper as well. Sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and dark chocolate are three delicious sources of copper too. Avacado, prunes and walnuts are also great sources.
Copper plays an important role in many areas of our body. It is an essential nutrient that is necessary for a healthy life. We couldn’t function without it and our body works the best when we get enough of it in our diet, The good news is that copper is easily attained from food sources. Food sources are the most bioavailable form and generally include many other minerals and vitamins in addition to copper.