Copper – Assists Critical Enzymes Functions

Copper is the chemical element on the periodic table with symbol Cu and atomic number 29, it is also an essential nutrient and trace mineral, and is the third most abundant trace mineral in the body. Many enzymes contain this mineral which acts as an antioxidant, and aids in the biosynthesis of the skin pigment melanin and connective tissue proteins collagen and elastin. The mineral’s most important function is as a component of the enzyme ceruloplasmin, which helps to incorporate iron into transferrin which is a protein that transports iron in the blood for use in the oxygen binding portion of hemoglobin, heme.

Copper Symbol

Dietary Recommendations

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for men and women is 900 micrograms/day.

Dietary Mineral Sources

Dietary sources of the mineral include organ meats such as liver, shellfish, nuts, seeds, beans, peanut butter, and chocolate.

Copper Rich Foods

Mineral Deficiency

Deficiency of the mineral is relatively rare, and occurs most frequently in preterm infants. The deficiency when it does occur causes anemia, hypercholesterolemia, and abnormalities of the bones. There is an extremely rare genetic disorder called Menkes’ Syndrome which results in a failure to absorb the mineral into the bloodstream resulting in a lack of proteins such as ceruloplasmin. Treatment for this disorder must occur within a few days of life of the newborn.

Mineral Toxicity

The mineral is relatively nontoxic compared to other trace minerals. There is a rare disease called Wilson’s disease that is a toxicity disease that prevents the mineral from being excreted in the bile, thus resulting in accumulation of copper in the liver, brain, kidney and eye, and as it accumulates in red blood cells, anemia results. Toxicity from this genetic disease is treatable.

For more information about dietary copper click on the link to

For other information on nutrition some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

• The Vitamin Alphabet – Your guide to vitamins, minerals and food supplements by Dr. Christiana Scott-Moncrieff MB, CHB, MFHOM

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