Published: 09/06/2013 - Updated: 11/27/2016
Author: Miriam Reyes
Copper is a metal that is essential in our diet and for different functions in the body. It is found naturally in the soil, water and air, but also as part of food.
In the past, some cultures such as the Greeks, Egyptians and even Aztecs used copper preparations to relieve sore throats and rashes. Today, copper is used for many purposes, such as antifungal remedies, antiseptics and more.
Note that copper should be included in our diet, but in an appropriate ratio: when used in excess, copper can be toxic and cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, bone fractures, schizophrenia and osteoporosis.
Copper in food
Our body requires at least 2 mg of copper per day and the best way to consume copper is through a balanced and varied diet. It is suggested that many plant foods are rich in this metal, although this depends on the richness of the soil in which they were planted. Otherwise, 50 grams of nuts or other seeds can usually meet our daily requirement of copper.
Currently, chocolate and cocoa products are often the main sources of dietary copper today. A chocolate bar of about 100 grams may contain 1 mg copper. If the chocolate is combined with milk, i.e. milk chocolate, the proportion of copper is much lower.
Chicken, rice, tea and even dairy products are considered low in copper, but because their consumption is usually in larger amounts, they can become an important source of this mineral.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), about 20 % of the population suffers from disorders associated with a diet deficient in copper. The most common are moderate to severe anemia, edema, bone demineralization, anorexia, changes in hair colour, stunted growth, fatigue and skin pigmentation.
That is why we recommend a daily dose of 3 mg per day, to avoid any of the above symptoms which are associated with its deficiency.
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Benefits and features of copper
Copper provides numerous health benefits, here are a few of its main benefits:
- Antioxidant, protects cells from free radical damage.
- Involved in the formation of hemoglobin, so its deficiency can cause anemia.
- Facilitates the development of bones, tendons, connective tissue and vascular system, as well as contributing to its maintenance.
- Participates in the process of obtaining ATP, a substance that is used for cell energy expenditure.
- It is linked to a substance known as interleukin – 2, which is one of the crucial messengers of our immune system.
- Prevents infections by increasing the effectiveness of our immune system.
- Participates in the synthesis of norepinephrine and melanin, two substances of great interest to the body's functions.
- Reduces blood cholesterol levels.
- Prevents the development of heart disease.
- Minimises the risk of osteoporosis.
- Contributes to improving pain in cases of arthritis.
- Has the ability to reorganise collagen in the skin , so it is helpful for healing injuries and other impurities such as stretch marks, as well as aesthetic treatments against expression lines, eye bags and dermatitis.
Do not forget to include this trace mineral in your diet. Supplements can be helpful, but it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking copper supplements because although copper has many benefits, it should always be consumed in adequate quantities to avoid copper poisoning.
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