Health Benefits of Copper & 7 Ways Excess Copper is Bad
By Maja Stanojevic, MD March 16, 2017.
Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD (Molecular Genetics)
Copper is an important trace mineral. We need it for normal growth, bone strength, immune function, and cardiovascular health. However, too much of it can be toxic. Read this post to learn more about the health benefits of copper, harmful effects of copper overload, and ways to change your copper absorption.
How is Copper Used in the Body?
Copper is an essential trace mineral in the human body (R). It is required for growth, bone strength, immune function, as well as heart function, and brain development (R).
Copper is an integral part (cofactor) of a group of enzymes called cuproenzymes (R), which are important for:
Energy production in the cell (cytochrome C oxidase) (R)
Formation of strong and flexible connective tissue (lysyl oxidase) (R)
Iron metabolism (multi-copper oxidases, ferroxidases) (R)
Normal function of the brain and nervous system (dopamine β-hydroxylase, cytochrome C oxidase) (R)
Antioxidant activity (superoxide dismutase, ceruloplasmin) (R)
Formation of the pigment melanin (tyrosinase) (R)
Due to its potent antimicrobial properties, copper is also used as a biocide in agriculture, wood preservation, paints, and in hospitals (R, R2, R3, R4).
Health Benefits of Copper Supplementation
1) Copper is Important for Proper Immune FunctionCopper plays an important role in white blood cell growth and function.
One month of copper supplementation in infants with copper deficiency significantly increased the ability of white blood cells to engulf pathogens (R).
Adequate copper supplementation rapidly restores the number and function of T lymphocytes in copper-deficient rats (R).
Also, copper supplementation increased secretion of cytokine IL-2 but decreased secretion of the inflammation causing cytokine TNF-alpha (R).
In the 19th century, workers exposed to copper salts did not develop cholera during the cholera epidemics (R)…