Copper

Copper is found in all types of body tissues. It is considered an essential mineral, largely involved in the formation of red blood cells.

Copper benefits

The main function of copper is to aid in the formation of red blood cells. It is also responsible for playing a role in maintaining healthy blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones.

Sources of copper

Copper is found wide range of foods including: oysters, other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats (kidney and liver). Other food sources of copper are dark leafy greens, some dried fruits (prunes), cocoa, black pepper, and yeast products.

Recommended amounts

Set forth by the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommendations for copper are below (some individuals may be placed on a plan that requires higher than normal amounts to manage a specific issue they may be experiencing).

Table 1: Recommended Daily Intakes for Copper1
Age Amount
0-6 months 200mcg/day
7-12 months 220mcg/day
1-3 years 340mcg/day
4-8 years 440mcg/day
9-13 years 700mcg/day
14-18 years 890mcg/day
19+ years 900mcg/day
Women who are pregnant or nursing will require higher amounts of copper. If you call into this group, consult with your physician to determine the appropriate intake of copper you should be receiving.

Copper side effects

A copper deficiency may lead to two specific conditions. The first is anemia, a condition where there is a low quantity of red blood cells and this may also include a decreased ability for the hemoglobin to bind with oxygen. The second condition associated with a lack of copper is osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones that can result in breaks and fractures.

Too much copper is hazardous as well. A rare disorder known as Wilson's disease can cause deposits of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. Once the copper is embedded in these tissues, it leads to hepatitis, kidney damage, brain disorders, and a variety of other health issues.

Sources:
1Copper in diet - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002419.htm

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