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Function:

Like most trace minerals, copper acts as an enzyme cofactor in several key metabolic processes in the body. Among its many functions, copper aids in the formation of bone, hemoglobin and red blood cells, therefore enabling the efficient transport of oxygen throughout the body. In addition, copper works in balance with vitamin C and zinc to manufacture elastin (skin protein) as well as collagen and other structural proteins in cartilage and tendons. It is also involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring (production of melanin) and taste sensitivity. Copper also aids in the metabolism of several fatty acids (like oleic acid- see above) and helps prevent oxidative damage. Deficiency Symptoms: Due to copper’s role in the formation of collagen, copper deficiency can manifest as osteoporosis.

Copper & Inflammation:

Deficiency in copper lowers enzyme activity that fights inflammation. Lowers damaging by-products of inflammation as well.

Neurological:

Copper is an integral part of certain chemicals in the brain (such as endorphins) that calm anxious feelings; Anxiety-like behavior may be exacerbated with copper deficiency.

Copper deficiency increases the formation of amyloid deposits in the brain. Specifically, copper accumulates in amyloid plaques while remaining deficient in neighboring brain cells indicating that copper deficiency is a plausible cause of Alzheimer’s.

Signs of Deficiency:

  • Anemia (due to its role in hemoglobin formation)
  • Baldness
  • Diarrhea
  • General weakness
  • Impaired respiratory function
  • Myelopathy
  • Decreased skin pigment
  • Reduced resistance to infection and increased triglyceride levels
  • Evidence also links copper deficiency with increased oxidative damage to cell membranes