We know that copper is commonly used in plumbing, electronics and jewelry, but did you know that it is also responsible for important biological functions? In fact, as early as 400 BC, it is said that Hippocrates prescribed copper compounds for the treatment of diseases. Clearly, he understood that we need copper to maintain our health and develop properly. And since we cannot manufacture copper on our own, we must rely on the benefits of foods high in copper to avoid copper deficiency. Copper is a trace mineral, which means that it is necessary in a very small amount for growth and development. Its main function is to help form hemoglobin and collagen in the body, but it is also important for the function of various enzymes and proteins that participate in energy metabolism, DNA synthesis and respiration.
Copper homeostasis is very important, since consuming too much or too little of the mineral can cause major health problems. Therefore, adults should choose to consume about 0.9 milligrams of copper per day, which can easily be done by eating one or two servings of high copper foods as part of their healthy diet.
Benefits of High Copper Foods:
1. Stimulates the Thought Process:
The benefits of high copper foods stimulate higher level thinking processes and mental functioning. They are considered foods for the brain because copper helps allow certain neural pathways that promote ready-to-use thinking.
“The lack of copper during growth can lead to incomplete brain and nerve development”.
Research also shows that a copper deficiency may be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the data is varied, with some studies suggesting that too little copper can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and others that indicate that copper overload may be responsible, it is clear that copper does play a role in the development of this neurodegenerative disease. Low copper is associated with decreased cognition and increased cerebral and spinal fluid that can serve as a plausible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Promotes Healthy Skin, Hair and Eyes
Copper is essential for the proper functioning of almost all tissues of the human body, including the skin, and is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against damage from free radicals. The benefits of foods high in copper can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, improve wound healing and can even improve macular degeneration symptoms. Copper increases the health of your skin by helping to build collagen, a substance found in connective tissue that improves the appearance and elasticity of the skin. Also, did you know that copper plays a role in the development of melanin? We need adequate levels of copper to give us our natural pigment and the texture of our skin, hair and eyes. Copper also helps prevent hair from lightening and turning gray.
3. Promotes the Maintenance of Energy and Prevent Anemia:
Copper plays a role in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the primary energy storage molecule in our bodies. Animal and laboratory studies suggest that, without adequate copper, mitochondria (the cell’s energy producer) cannot properly produce ATP, which can make us feel lethargic and tired. Copper helps us use iron properly, which helps reduce anemia that can affect energy levels. Copper helps iron to be released in the liver, so it is less likely to have a deficiency, which can lead to symptoms of anemia such as fatigue and muscle aches.
4. It Allows an Adequate Growth and Development:
In countries where malnutrition is a serious problem and copper deficiency is more common as a result, the negative effects of poor development and stunted growth can be seen in children. This is because copper is responsible for proper oxygenation of red blood cells, and when you have a deficiency, your cells, tissues and organs do not receive enough oxygen. Research shows that copper (and iron) deficiency during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including abnormal development of the fetus. These problems can persist into adulthood, which can cause mental health, hypertension and obesity problems. This is the reason why foods high in copper are an important part of the pregnancy diet.
5. Strengthens the Bones:
Copper plays a role in maintaining bone health, so a copper deficiency can cause skeletal abnormalities, such as osteoporosis. The benefits of high copper foods strengthen your bones by promoting bone formation and skeletal mineralization, and increasing the integrity of connective tissue. According to a review, it was determined that the majority of elderly patients with fractures had significantly lower serum copper levels than participants who served as controls. In addition, postmenopausal women with high serum levels of copper and calcium had a higher lumbar bone density than those with low levels of calcium and copper.
6. Support your Metabolism:
Copper plays an important role in up to 50 different reactions of metabolic enzymes that are necessary to keep the metabolism running smoothly. The benefits of high copper foods play a key role in fat metabolism, since this mineral is essential for breaking down fat cells, so that they can be used as energy. Copper also plays a role in iron metabolism. Eating enough copper-rich foods is necessary for normal iron metabolism, so anemia is a sign of copper deficiency.
7. Support Immunity:
Copper plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system and people with copper deficiency can get sick more often than normal. Animal and laboratory studies show that copper deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to bacterial infections and impaired neutrophil function (a type of white blood cell). To help boost your immune system naturally, be sure to consume enough foods high in copper per day.
Importance of Copper: Benefits of Copper and Signs of Copper Deficiency:
Copper is an important mineral because it benefits the health of our bones, nerves and skeletal system. It is also essential for the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells, and is necessary for the proper use of iron and oxygen in our blood. We need to eat foods high in copper because the body cannot produce the mineral by itself and uses copper frequently, without being able to store it in sufficient quantities. A deficiency in copper produces poorly formed red blood cells, which is problematic because red blood cells deliver oxygen to our body’s tissues. Not getting enough copper can cause major health problems, and the following symptoms of copper deficiency can be notable:
- fatigue or low energy levels
- low body temperature
- weak and fragile bones
- baldness or thinning hair
- unexplained weight loss
- skin inflammation
- weakened immune system
- Muscle pain
- joint pain
Copper deficiency is much more common in undernourished populations where people do not consume enough calories and cannot get enough copper-rich foods in their diets. In developed countries, certain people are at greater risk for copper deficiency, including babies fed only with cow’s milk formula, premature babies, babies with prolonged digestive problems and adults suffering from malabsorption syndromes, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. To avoid a copper deficiency, it is important that copper intake is kept in balance with zinc and iron levels. If you consume too much of one, you can unbalance the other mineral levels. People who supplement with zinc or iron are at an increased risk of copper deficiency and should take this precaution into account. Menkes disease or syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects copper levels in your body. Menkes syndrome symptoms include lack of weight gain, growth retardation, developmental delay, weak muscle tone, intellectual disability, seizures, face loss and curly, thin and discolored hair. Symptoms usually develop in childhood and are usually noticed for the first time with hair changes. A less severe form of Menkes is called occipital horn syndrome, which usually begins in early or intermediate childhood. For some children with Menkes syndrome or the occipital horn, early treatment with copper may improve their prognosis.
Another rare and inherited condition that affects copper levels in your body is Wilson’s disease. But unlike Menkes’ disease that does not allow the body to absorb copper properly, Wilson’s disease prevents the body from eliminating additional copper. This is dangerous because our bodies only need a small amount of copper to stay healthy, and when too much copper builds up in the body, it can become poisonous and cause organic damage that can be life-threatening over time.
The 20 Richest Foods in Copper:
- Beef Liver
1 ounce: 4 milligrams (200 percent DV)
- Dark chocolate with
1 bar: 1.8 milligrams (89 percent DV)
- Sunflower seeds
1 cup with helmets: 0.8 milligrams (41 percent DV)
- Cashew nuts
1 ounce: 0.6 milligram (31 percent DV)
1 cup: 0.6 milligrams (29 percent DV)
1 cup: 0.5 milligrams (25 percent DV)
1 cup: 0.5 milligrams (25 percent DV)
1 time: 0.5 milligrams (25 percent DV)
- Dried apricots
1 cup: 0.4 milligrams (22 percent DV)
1 avocado: 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
- Sesame seeds
1 tablespoon: 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
1 cup, cooked: 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
- Turnip greens
1 cup, cooked: 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
- Blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons: 0.3 milligrams (14 percent DV)
- Shiitake mushrooms
1 ounce: 0.3 milligrams (14 percent DV)
1 ounce: 0.3 milligram (14 percent DV)
1 cup: 0.3 milligrams (13 percent DV)
1 cup, raw: 0.2 milligrams (10 percent DV)
- Goat cheese
1 ounce, semi-soft: 0.2 milligrams (8 percent DV)
- Chia seeds
1 ounce (28 grams): 0.1 milligram (3 percent DV)
Precautions and Toxicity of Copper:
We know that copper is an essential mineral that is needed in small amounts for the body to function properly, but consuming too much copper can be dangerous and can even lead to the toxicity of copper. So, if you’re wondering, “Is copper bad for humans?” The answer is that it could be when consumed in large quantities. High levels of copper have been found in many types of human cancers, including prostate, breast, colon, lung and brain; Copper chelators are used in the treatment of these types of cancer cancers as anti-angiogenic molecules. Although copper toxicity is possible, it is rare in the general population. Contaminated water supplies or contamination of beverages stored in copper-containing containers can cause copper poisoning. That is why toxic copper cups should not be used for your Moscow mules, since they allow copper to seep into your drink. If you have high levels of copper in the water, which can be verified in certified laboratories that analyze drinking water, you cannot reduce copper levels by heating or boiling water. You may want to consider using a water treatment, such as reverse osmosis, distillation, ultrafiltration and ion exchange, to remove copper from your water supply. Also, if it is exposed to copper through the pipe, it is a good idea to purge the water system by letting the water run (from each tap) for at least 15 seconds before using it.
For people who have ingested too much copper, symptoms of copper toxicity generally include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This is the way your body naturally expels copper overload. Copper poisoning can also cause liver damage and kidney failure in severe cases. You may also notice copper deficiency in plants, which causes stunted growth in plants and wilting. It can also occur the regressive death of stems and twigs and yellowing of the leaves. Many plants, however, have natural strategies that are used to respond to copper deficiency, such as regulating the absorption of copper in root cells and copper protein levels.
How to Get More Copper in Your Diet + Foods Rich in Copper Recipes?
Generally, a varied diet provides enough copper to meet the recommended daily amount of 900 micrograms (or 0.9 milligrams) per day for adult men and women. Copper-rich foods include organ meats, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and some vegetables. Consuming one or two servings of these copper-rich foods should keep it in healthy serum copper levels. Copper is also obtained through drinking water because it is used in many pipes that carry water to your home, allowing a small amount to seep into the water supply. This really helps you consume enough copper, as well as eating foods that are cooked in cast iron pots and pans that are made with natural copper.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of High Copper Foods:
- Copper is a trace mineral that is needed in very small quantities for proper growth and development, along with the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
- Copper is involved in up to 50 different reactions of metabolic enzymes, necessary for the proper use of iron and oxygen in our blood, promotes energy maintenance and supports the health of our neurological and skeletal systems.
- It is important to comply with the GDR for copper, since consuming too much or too little can be problematic. Copper toxicity in humans is possible when levels are too high.
- To get more copper in your diet and avoid a deficiency, eat the following foods high in copper: veal liver, dark chocolate, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, cashews, chickpeas, raisins, lentils, hazelnuts, almonds, Shiitake mushrooms, avocado, sesame seeds, quinoa, turnip greens, molasses, asparagus, kale, goat cheese and chia seeds.