Copper is required for absorbing iron and building the red blood cells. It helps in keeping the nerve cells and immune system healthy. It also acts as an antioxidant helping the body to get rid of the free radicals that damage the cells and DNA. It is an essential mineral for the maturation of collagen that helps in preventing bone defects.
The amount of Copper required by our body is minimal and depends on the age, gender and the physical conditions. Infants need to have a daily intake of 220 micrograms of Copper while children should have 340-440 micrograms of Copper per day. Both adult males and females should consume 900 micrograms of Copper daily. But at the time of pregnancy and breastfeeding, women are required to take 1000 and 1300 micrograms of Copper per day respectively.
When there is deficiency of Copper in our body, it leads to bone fracture in infants, low body temperature, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, and loss of skin pigments. It also contributes to anaemia and thyroid problems.
A proper intake of food with Copper content is the best way to increase the amount of Copper in our body, if found lacking. Some of the best sources of Copper containing food are seafood, such as oyster, squid, lobster, mussels, crab and clams. Liver, kidney and beef are also rich in Copper. Other sources are nuts, legumes, chocolate, cereals, dried fruits, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, grapes and avocado.
Excess consumption of Copper is toxic for our body; it causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and sometimes even leads to kidney disease and anaemia. There is also a very rare disorder that is caused by the too much of Copper in the body; it is known as Wilson’s disease where the liver or brain has excess amount of Copper accumulated in it.
The absorption of Copper is hindered by the availability of zinc in excess, thus when you eat food with high zinc content your body fails to absorb enough Copper. On the other hand, zinc deficiency also leads to Copper toxicity which is equally harmful.