Copper is a trace mineral that doesn’t get a lot of attention today. Besides iron and zinc, copper is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It is found in all tissues, but is stored primarily in the liver. Copper offers both internal and external benefits. Getting enough copper is quite important to good health.
Copper acts as an effective antioxidant. It works to remove free radicals and is useful in preventing cell damage. Studies have shown that copper plays a major role in cardiovascular health. It offers protection from heart disease; helps regulate cholesterol levels; and stops the formation of clots. Copper prevents hardening of the arteries.
Copper is important to the health of the myelin sheath, a material that protects and surrounds nerves. It aids iron absorption and helps the thyroid to function properly. Additionally, copper is associated with relief from arthritis.
Copper is important to healthy skin and hair. It is needed to produce melanin which gives the skin, hair and eyes their color. Copper helps the skin maintain its elasticity because it plays a role in collagen formation.
A copper deficiency is associated with various health problems. The recommended daily amount of copper is 0.9 to 1.3 mg/day in adults. A copper deficiency causes anemia since it helps in the absorption of iron. Premature graying and hair loss are said to result from insufficient copper. It is believed that gray hair can be reversed with enough copper in the body. Other symptoms include sores of the skin, joint and bone problems, weak blood vessels, irregular heartbeat and difficulty in breathing.
Copper is obtained through a balanced diet. Foods that are good sources of copper include seafood and fish, whole grains, dried brewer’s yeast, chicken, beans, nuts, and cherries. Organ meats such as liver are another excellent source of copper. Blackstrap molasses contains copper.
Certain methods of preparing foods can reduce their copper levels. Whole grains that undergo processing lose copper. As foods such as beans cook longer, they begin to lose copper.
Copper can be taken as a supplement. However, if considering copper supplements, consult your doctor. It can interfere with the absorption of certain medications.
Copper is a mineral that should not be neglected in a healthy eating lifestyle. It clearly has important benefits to the body and should be a part of a strategy for lifelong health.