Copper is an essential trace mineral that can impair the ability of white blood cells to fight infection with even the slightest deficiency. Copper is necessary for the proper absorption of iron in the body. It is found primarily in foods that contain iron. If the body does not get a sufficient amount of copper, hemoglobin production decreases, causing copper-deficiency anemia to potentially result.
There are a variety of enzyme reactions that require copper. Copper is essential as a cross-linking agent for elastin and collagen. It is also a catalyst for protein reactions and is also needed for oxygen transport. Copper is used for the metabolism of essential fatty acids. Copper deficiency can result in a variety of symptoms. Among these symptoms are diarrhea, inefficient utilization of iron and protein, and stunted growth. The development of nerve, bone, and lung tissue can be impaired in babies and the structure of these body parts may also be altered.
Because the body is unable to manufacture copper, it must be obtained through the diet. Too much copper produces a condition known as copper toxicity or copper overload. In order for the body to work properly, it is essential that it has a proper balance of copper and zinc. An imbalance can lead to thyroid problems. Additionally, low copper levels can contribute to mental and emotional problems. For example, copper deficiency may be a factor in anorexia nervosa.
Although the FDA has never published a Recommended Daily Allowance for copper, the National Research Council recommends that adults get from 1.5 to 3.0 mg per day, while children obtain 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams and infants less than six months old obtain 0.4 to 0.6 milligrams. For most people, a normal healthy diet will provide the correct amount of copper.
Copper deficiency is most likely to occur in babies who are fed only cow's milk, persons suffering from a malabsoprtion syndrome known as sprue, persons suffering from kidney disease, and those who chronically take mega-doses of zinc. Long-term use of oral contraceptives can upset the balance of copper in the body. This can cause either excessively high or excessively low copper levels. Copper levels can be determined through a blood test, urine samples, and hair analysis. The basis for a nutritional program to balance body chemistry is determining mineral levels and ratios.
The following nutrients are helpful in combating copper deficiency. The dosages recommended are for adults unless otherwise specified. For a child between the ages of twelve and seventeen, the dosage should be reduced to three-quarters the recommended amount, while one-half the recommended amount should be used for a child between six and twelve. A child under the age of six should use one-quarter the recommended amount.
Copper should be taken in dosages of 5 mg daily for a month, and then reduced to 3 mg daily. This helps to restore copper in the body. It is recommended that a copper amino acid chelate is used. 30 mg of zinc should be taken daily, as it is needed to balance with copper. This amount should not be exceeded and a zinc chelate form should be used. Iron should be taken as directed by a physician, as copper deficiency may cause anemia. Be sure to use a chelate form and do not take iron unless anemia is diagnosed. Additionally, a multivitamin and mineral complex should be taken as directed on the label since all nutrients are necessary in balance.
In conclusion, copper is a wonderful mineral that can help one with immunity and much more. Remember that copper should only be taken in low dosages of 1 to 3 milligrams per day. Copper can be found at your local or internet health food store.