Copper is an essential trace element for humans, animals and many plants. The average adult contains between 75 and 150 mg coppor and about half of this is contained in the skeleton and the muscles. Copper is most concentrated in the brain and liver.
Copper is an important component in many enzymes in the body. A copper- containing enzyme plays a vital role in energy production in cells. The activity of this enzyme is highest in the heart, brain, liver and kidney.
Connective tissue formation
An enzyme responsible for the production of the connective tissue proteins, collagen and elastin, requires copper. It is therefore necessary for the development and maintenance of blood vessels, skin, bone and joints.
Iron metabolism and blood
Copper is involved in the release of iron from storage sites and is involved in the formation of bone marrow and the maturation of red blood cells.
Brain and nervous system
Copper health: Copper is necessary for the synthesis of cell membrane phospholipids, and so helps maintain myelin, the insulating sheath that surrounds nerve cells. It also helps regulate neurotransmitter levels.
Copper is part of the enzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant vital for protection against free radical damage. Maintaining the correct balance between zinc and copper is important in many body functions involving superoxide dismutase.
Copper is important in developing resistance to infection. During inflammation or infection, two copper-containing compounds, superoxide dismutase and ceruloplasmin, are mobilized in the body. Copper is also necessary for T cell function and maturation.
Copper health: Copper is essential for the contractility of heart muscle. It is also necessary for the healthy function of small blood vessels that control blood flow and nutrient and waste exchange. It is also necessary for the functioning of the muscles of the blood vessels and is involved in the functioning of blood vessel linings and platelets which may play a role in blood clotting.
T he formation of melanin, a natural coloring pigment found in skin and hair, involves a copper-dependent enzyme. The enzyme histaminase, which metabolizes histamine, requires copper. Copper is involved in fat and cholesterol metabolism and in the normal functioning of insulin which regulates glucose metabolism. It also contributes to the synthesis of prostaglandins, compounds that regulate a variety of functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure and wound- healing.
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