Copper assumes a very important place in the periodic table and for the right reasons. It may only be a trace element in our diet, but has numerous health benefits on the human body. Its importance lies in the fact that it is essential for all living beings as it functions as a component of the metabolic processes, tissue substance and several important biochemical processes of the body
HEALTH BENEFITS OF COPPER Antimicrobial Function:
The antimicrobial properties of copper have been known since ancient times. Studies have proved its antimicrobial effects on bacteria and other microorganism if they stay in contact with it for a significant duration. (1) Copper has formally been accepted as the only metal with bactericidal properties and its use in many infection control programs is being endorsed.(2)
Copper for Brain Development And Stimulation:
Copper has widely been studied for brain stimulation. Foods that contain copper are deemed good for brain. Copper has its implications in mental creativity and out of the box thinking, as it is often related with intricate thought processes in the brain.
Copper as a component of cuproenzymes, regulates various mechanisms required for normal brain function. Two of these mechanisms are:
1) Neurotransmitter Synthesis:
The enzyme dopamine beta hydroxylase is dependent on copper catalysis for conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine.
2) Myelin Sheath Synthesis:
Phospholipids serve as raw materials for synthesis of myelin sheath (A covering for neurons). The synthesis of phospholipids is mechanized by cytochrome c oxidase, which contains copper. Â
Copper for Enzymatic Reactions:
The importance of copper as a cofactor for different enzymes is undeniable. It is either a constituent or a catalyst for as much as 50 enzymatic reactions that take place in the human body. These elements require copper in a proper amount for the metabolic machinery to stay on track. Without these reactions, our metabolic system would slow down and ultimately collapse. Copper is dearly important in central nervous system pathways like those involving dopamine and galactose. (3)
The anti-inflammatory properties of copper have long been known. Many copper based products have recently been introduced into the market based on its anti-inflammatory effects. These products are available in form of copper bracelets. Research, however, suggests that copper bracelets only have a placebo effect if any in treatment of arthritic patients (4).
Copper and Zinc complexes have been studied for their considerable and significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in comparison to drugs like paradoxical in rat models.(5)
Increased Energy Production:
Copper has a vital role in the intracellular production of ATP (the currency for cells). It is a constituent of the cuproenzyme cytochrome c oxidase, which functions in the respiratory chain to generate ATP.
It is imperative that having enough copper in our bodies would enable us to store and utilize energy right throughout our day without getting tired or lethargic.
Copper also plays its role in absorption of elemental iron from gastrointestinal tract and its incorporation into red blood cells. Without readily available iron, proper oxygenation of our body systems is not possible and we would become more prone to things like fatigue, muscle pains, digestive problems and overall body weakness.
Copper and Athletic Activity:
Copper enhances athletic performance by more than one mechanisms. It augments oxygen transport and utilization during intense physical activities. It also increases in amount in the bloodstream during highly demanding exercises. This increase logically makes copper a pivotal element that has a direct role in enhancing athletic activity and muscular work.
How much Copper do you need?
According to the FDA, the Recommended Daily Allowance for copper in healthy adults and adolescents is 900 micrograms. For pregnant women, the amount increases to 1000 micrograms per day. For lactating mothers, copper requirement amounts to 1300 micrograms per day.
- Hans M, Erbe A, Mathews S, Chen Y, Solioz M, Mucklich F. Role of copper oxides in contact killing of bacteria. Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids. 2013;29(52):16160-6.
- Prado JV, Vidal AR, Duran TC. [Application of copper bactericidal properties in medical practice]. Revista medica de Chile. 2012;140(10):1325-32.
- Ogra Y. Molecular mechanisms underlying copper homeostasis in Mammalian cells. Nihon eiseigaku zasshi Japanese journal of hygiene. 2014;69(2):136-45.
- Richmond SJ, Gunadasa S, Bland M, Macpherson H. Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps for rheumatoid arthritis–analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects: a randomised double-blind placebo controlled crossover trial. PLoS One. 2013;8(9):e71529.
- El-Gammal OA, Elmorsy EA, Sherif YE. Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Cu(II) and Zn(II) complexes derived from 2-(naphthalen-1-yloxy)-N’-(1-(pyridin-2-1)ethylidene) acetohydrazide. Spectrochimica acta Part A, Molecular and biomolecular spectroscopy. 2014;120:332-9.