Minerals are vital for good health. They play an important role in many bodily functions and are present in every human cell. Copper is one such important mineral that needs a mention. Although required in trace amount by the body, lack of it can lead to dysfunction at some level in the body.
Normally human body contains 75 to 150 mg of copper. Its concentration is high in liver, kidneys, brain, heart and hair. Women have higher level of copper circulating in the blood than men. The level increases when a woman is pregnant.Many enzymes contain copper as one of its constituent. Enzymes play various roles in metabolic processes.
Copper is absorbed in the intestine from the food that we eat. Since copper is a trace element required by the body, many people may not be aware of its role and importance in human body. Therefore before knowing the symptoms of copper deficiency, it is necessary to know how copper helps the body to function well.
Benefits Of Copper For Human Body
- Copper is needed for conversion of iron into hemoglobin.
- It stimulates growth and multiplication of red blood cells in the bone marrow and spleen.
- Collagen, an integral part of bone and connective tissue requires copper for its proper formation. Thus copper is important for maintaining and formation of strong bones.
- Copper protects the DNA structure and cellular integrity with its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants destroy circulating free radical that damage cells.
- Copper has its role in skin and hair pigmentation.
- It works with vitamin C to form elastin, a chief component of muscle fibers.
Copper deficiency is rare as the body requires it in very small amount. However, copper deficiency if present may lead to anemia, growth retardation in children, low body temperature, defective pigmentation of hair and skin, thyroid disorder, bone fracture, osteoporosis, irregular pulse and heart beat etc.
The risk of copper deficiency increases in people suffering from malabsorption syndrome, people who take iron, zinc and vitamin C supplements for long duration and in a person who has chronic diarrhea.
Symptoms Of Deficiency Of Copper
Though copper deficiency is rare, it may present with following symptoms.
- Extreme weakness and prostration.
- Disturbance in digestive process leading to frequent diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea in turn will result in copper deficiency. This vicious cycle continues till the cause of diarrhea is treated.
- Skin and nails become pale.
- Growth retardation in children and infants.
- Aches and pain in bones.
- Loss of pigment in hair and skin.
- Hypothermia, body’s temperature becomes low.
Dietary Sources Of Copper
Adequate daily intake of copper in adults is 1.5 to 3 mg. Copper is found in abundance in flowing foods:
- Fish, oysters, lobsters, beef, liver, kidney and heart
- Peanuts, soybeans, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds, chocolate and black strap molasses.
- Mushroom, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, avocado, etc.
- Taking copper in excess is poisonous and food cooked in copper vessels with poor tin-plating can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea with abdominal pain.
- Drinking acid drinks in copper vessels can also produce the same symptoms.