The History of Copper
Before it was recognized that microorganisms existed, citizens of the early Roman Empire used copper piping to improve public hygiene. They observed that water delivered through copper was safe to drink and that copper utensils and cookware helped to prevent the spread of disease. Much later, after microbes were discovered and the germ theory of infection linked bacteria and other microorganisms to infection and disease, scientists began to understand how copper’s antimicrobial properties could be harnessed to provide additional benefits. Today, the antimicrobial uses of copper have been expanded to include fungicides, pesticides, antimicrobial medicines, oral hygiene products, hygienic medical devices and antiseptics.
You Cannot Live Without It
Copper is one of a relatively small group of metallic elements which are essential to human health. These elements, along with amino and fatty acids as well as vitamins, are required for normal metabolic processes. However, as the body can not synthesize copper, the human diet must supply regular amounts for absorption.
Copper is minuscule in small amounts and is actually a nutrient.
Copper assists in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells, its’ involved in forming pigments in your body’s natural hair colour. Copper is also involved in enzymes for digestion, protein metabolism and in healing processes necessary for proper bone formation and maintenance, it’s also necessary for the RNA in all of your cells. Without copper your body can’t make new cells. It’s also involved in the formation of elastin, the healthy, youthful skin and chief component of the elastic muscle fibres throughout the body. Your body actually NEEDS copper.
Do You Get Enough?
Until recently, it was generally believed that most people consumed adequate quantities of copper. However, modern research has shown that only 25% of the U.S. population consume the amount of copper a day estimated to be adequate by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. It is now recommended by The National Research Council that a minimum daily intake of 2 mg/day of copper for adults is required.
Copper can be found in green leafy vegetables, salads, almonds, whole-grain products, liver, seafood, avocados, barley, garlic, nuts, beets and lentils. Oysters are the richest source of copper.
Deficiency of copper can have the following symptoms within human beings:
- Low body temperature
- Brittle bones
- Dilated veins
- Low white blood cell count
- Uneven heart beat
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Low resistance to infections
- Birth defects
- Low skin pigmentation
- Thyroid disorders
Some other symptoms include lethargy, paleness, sones, egema, stunted growth, hair loss, anorexia, diarrhoea, bleeding under the skin and dermatitis. In infant boys, inherited copper deficiency of Mankes syndrome can happen rarely where natural absorption of copper becomes impossible. Early medical intervention is vital in such cases.
Benefits of Copper
Copper has many important roles to play in maintaining a healthy body and some of these benefits include the following:
- Arthritis: The health benefits of copper relate to its anti-inflammatory actions to assist in reducing the symptoms of arthritis. Market is also flooded with copper bracelets as well as other accessories for the cure of this disease. Copper also works as a home remedy for arthritis i.e. water stored in a copper container overnight accumulates copper traces which are beneficial to strengthen the muscular system.
- Proper growth: Copper is highly essential for normal growth and health. Thus, it is definitely important to include this mineral in balanced form in regular diets of an individual. It is helpful in protection of skeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems.
- Pigmentation to hair and eyes: Copper is a vital element of the natural dark pigment, melanin, which imparts coloration to skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin can be produced by melanocytes only in the presence of the cuproenzyme called tyrosinase. Intake of copper supplements helps in protecting the greying hair.
- Connective tissues: Copper is an important nutrient that has a significant role in the synthesis of haemoglobin, myelin, body pigment melanin and collagen. It helps to protect the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. It is also actively involved in the production of an element of connective tissue, elastin.
- Brain Stimulation: Copper is widely known as a brain stimulant. It is also otherwise called “Brain food”. However, copper content in the diet has to be in right proportions. Too much of copper is also not healthy for the brain. Copper has a control function to play for the brain and hence the extent of copper supplement intake has to be balanced.
- Utilization of iron and sugar: Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and release from its primary storage sites like liver. It also helps in the utilization of sugar in the body.
- Enzymatic reactions: Copper is either an element or a cofactor of as many as 50 different enzymes that take part in various biological reactions within the body. These enzymes can function properly only in the presence of copper.
- Helps with anti ageing: Copper is a strong antioxidant, which works in the presence of the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, to safeguard the cell membranes from free radicals.
- Increases energy production: Copper is essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate, which is an energy storehouse of the human body. The cuproenzyme, cytochrome c oxidase, affects the intracellular energy production. It acts as a catalyst in the reduction of molecular oxygen to water, during which the enzyme produces an electrical gradient used by the mitochondria to synthesize the vital energy-storing molecule, ATP.
- Bactericidal properties: Studies have shown that copper can destroy or inhibit the growth of bacterial strains such as E Coli.
- Thyroid glands: Copper has an important role in ensuring the proper functioning of thyroid glands.
- RBC formation: Copper helps in the production of red blood cells haemoglobin and bone.
- Immunity: Copper has an important role in the healing process and thus, ensures better wound healing. Copper acts as an extremely good immunity builder. It also works as a cure to anemic problems.
- Reduces cholesterol: Research studies have shown that copper can reduce bad cholesterol level and helps in increasing beneficial cholesterol.
All facts and figures are taken directly and indirectly from the Copper Development Association. . http://www.copper.org/