Are You Copper Deficient?

Not so long ago, the media blasted warnings about a possible link between copper and Alzheimer’s disease. Referencing a mere correlation study, these reports alluded that the population should monitor or reduce their copper intake. Some sources even suggested copper-fortified multi-vitamins should be thrown out! What the media failed to mention, however, was a report by the US Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences which stated only 25% of the US population gets enough copper daily. With this conflicting information, how can we know what to do?

Copper Facts

As it turns out, it looks like we’re all copper deficient to some degree. Why is it that, considering our low copper levels, doctors and nutritionists don’t know more about this vital micronutrient? Since that answer seems shrouded in silence, here are a few things you need to know to inform you and your family:

Copper is Essential for Cellular Energy

Contrary to media reports, copper isn’t dangerous in small amounts–it’s essential. It plays an integral role in the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), cellular energy necessary for every biological function. If that’s all it did, that would be enough; but, it does so much more.

Antioxidant Power

Copper’s role as an electron donor elevates its status as a potent antioxidant mimicker, helping the body neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Antioxidants are key compounds that fight the aging process and protect DNA from damage.

Supports Physical and Mental Health

Copper is also involved in the formation of collagen, an important building block of connective tissue and bones. This electron transfer activity makes it an important part of a dozen known enzyme reactions, including melatonin and serotonin synthesis. [1] Without copper, the human body cannot absorb iron which is essential for red blood cell formation.

The Iron-Copper Connection

Copper aids iron absorption and the transport of iron to bone marrow for red blood cell formation. Without enough copper, iron accumulates in the liver, heart, endocrine, and reproductive glands. Continued accumulation in these organs can lead to liver failure, heart muscle deterioration, arthritis, and hormonal imbalances.

Iron accumulates like this because the human body has no natural means for removal. The only way the body loses iron is through blood loss. This means when humans ingest iron, it remains in the human body. Iron loss occurs with every menstrual cycle, which is one of the many reasons why women are at a higher risk for anemia. Copper balance, on the other hand, is regulated by the body and can be excreted as needed through normal bowel and urinary movement.

The Dangers of Too Much Iron

While iron will accumulate in the liver, heart, and endocrine system, excess iron–or iron overload–can lead to additional health problems. Excess, unused iron oxidizes in the human body and creates free radicals. It’s as if the iron rusts the cells and organs and makes them more susceptible to common diseases. On top of that, iron increases susceptibility to viruses[2]

Anemia, a Sign of Copper Deficiency

The general medical response to anemia is to increase iron consumption. Iron supplements may be recommended, but may not be the best answer for some people. The body may not need iron, but rather more copper. Increasing copper intake releases iron stored in the body, making it available for red blood cell formation. Adding iron may trigger greater free radical damage.

Other Possible Signs of Copper Deficiency

Cells unable to make ATP reduce overall physical energy, creating a sense of fatigue. Hormonal imbalances may result as iron builds up in the endocrine system. This can lead to low body temperature, osteoporosis and bone fractures, an irregular heartbeat, a higher risk of coronary artery disease, low white blood cell counts, and a loss of skin pigmentation. Researchers have also reported copper deficiency causes neural and nervous system dysfunction. Copper-replacement therapy has been found to alleviate these symptoms which appear as a B12 deficiency. [3]

Read the rest of the article