What does copper do?

The healing power of copper has been documented for 1000s of years and many civilizations from Aztecs to Egyptians have used it to treat infections, skin conditions and inflammation.

Copper is highly concentrated in the blood, liver, kidneys and brain and assists transportation of iron and formation of haemoglobin.

Therefore, interestingly copper deficiency can lead to anaemia. 

Copper is also required to make collagen and elastin. These two proteins support the structural integrity of connective tissue throughout the body giving elasticity to skin, blood vessels, lungs and other connective tissue. 

It is also required to build the myelin sheath- the fatty layer that protects our nerves that gets damaged in multiple sclerosis. 

Therefore, copper deficiency can contribute to damaged nerves and parts of brain.

Copper is a co-factor in the antioxidant super oxide dismutase (SOD).

What is copper good for?

Copper has been used therapeutically for relieving symptoms of or preventing:

Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, broken bones, impaired immunity, varicose veins, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, vitiligo, cardiovascular diseases

How much  copper do I need?

RDA 1.5-4 mg/day for men and women. 

How do I know I need copper?

Copper deficiency is characterised by anaemia, poor wound healing, cardiovascular dysfunction, elevated cholesterol levels and poor immune function.

Things you need to know about copper

Zinc supplementation can lead to copper deficiency as they both compete with each other in the same sites. Therefore, often zinc supplements are sold with copper to maintain the ideal ratio of 9:1 zinc to copper.

It is rare to supplement with copper though because unbound copper is a free radical and people may suffer from copper toxicity. This is often due to drinking a lot of water stored in copper pipes and could cause symptoms such as poor memory, depression, insomnia, heavy menstrual cycle, viral infections, joint and muscle pain.

Excessive copper levels have also been linked to schizophrenia, learning disabilities, premenstrual syndrome and anxiety. 

Where can I find copper?

  • Shellfish, oysters, organ meats especially liver, chicken, yeast, tofu
  • Peas, beans legumes, wheat, millet, rye, cocoa, barley, peanuts, molasses
  • Sesame seeds, brazil nuts, mushrooms, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, almonds