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THE BENEFITS OF
COPPER AND COPPER BRACELETS
Copper is an essential trace mineral that facilitates the activity of
several enzymes. The mineral provides a role in the development and
maintenance of the cardiovascular system, including the heart, arteries,
and other blood vessels, the skeletal system, and the structure and
function of the nervous system, including the brain.
The highest concentration of copper is found in the brain and liver.
Copper is found in all other tissues in varying amounts, and about 50
percent of the total copper content of the body is found in the bones
METHOD OF ACTION
Copper is involved in respiration and the synthesis of hemoglobin. It
is essential in the production of collagen and the neurotransmitter
noradrenalin. It is an important blood antioxidant and prevents the
rancidity of polyunsaturated fats.
Copper is involved in numerous enzyme systems that break down or build
up body tissues. It plays a role in the production of the skin pigment
melanin by converting the amino acid tyrosine. The mineral is essential
for the synthesis of phospholipids, which are a component of the myelin
sheath that surrounds nerves.
Absorption of copper takes place in the stomach and upper intestine.
Approximately 30 percent of ingested copper is absorbed. Copper influences
iron absorption and mobilization from the liver and other tissue stores.
Absorption of the mineral is increased by acids and inhibited by calcium
PROPERTIES & USES
Copper is used in the treatment of anemia because it works with iron
in the development and maintenance of red blood cells and their protein
Copper may provide benefit against pollution exposure and possibly protect
against carcinogenesis and tumor growth. While this action is unproven
in humans, animal studies have shown that copper may protect against
chemically induced cancers and some RNA viruses (Kirschmann, 1996).
Wearing copper bracelets is a long-term folk remedy for arthritis. While
this information is controversial, a double-blind study in Australia
concluded that copper bracelets reduced pain and inflammation. The hypothesis
is that copper is absorbed through the skin and chelated to another
compound that exerts and anti-inflammatory action. Copper is part of
ceruloplasmin and SOD (superoxide dismutase), compounds that have antioxidant
activity that may contribute benefits to the treatment of arthritis
Copper deficiency may play a role in atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms.
The exact mechanism is unknown, but studies shows that a copper deficiency
or a high zinc intake resulting in deficiency of copper result in increased
blood cholesterol levels, heart and arterial damage and increased mortality.
Copper deficiency may influence the development of aortic aneurysms
because of the minerals role in cross-linking collagen and elastin
fibers. The aorta and other arteries are surrounded by elastin fibers
consisting of collagen and copper is essential to maintain their integrity.
Supplementing with high doses of copper may increase the damaging oxidation
of LDL cholesterol and is not recommended (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).
CONSEQUENCE OF DEFICIENCY
Copper deficiencies are relatively rare, but are found in children with
iron-deficiency anemia, severe protein malnutrition, chronic diarrhea
or other malabsorption difficulties. Since copper is required for a
number of enzymes systems and bodily processes, a deficiency can cause
a variety of disorders. Symptoms of copper deficiency include general
weakness, impairedrespiration, skin sores, decreased immune function,
elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol.
Copper deficiency is usually associated with poor collagen integrity,
which manifests in rupture of blood vessels, osteoporosis, and bone
and joint abnormalities. Copper deficiency results in iron deficiency
anemia because it is required the proper absorption and utilization
Copper deficiency can cause early graying of the hair and loss of skin
color because the pigment melanin is a copper-dependent pigment.
Menkes syndrome is a genetic defect in copper absorption in which
infants show defective skin pigmentation, kinky hair, failure to thrive,
abnormal development of the arteries and bones, progressive mental deterioration,
and generally premature death.
Copper deficiency affects the cardiovascular system because it causes
extensive damage to the heart and arteries. This may manifest in abnormal
cardiograms, increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and
clot formation (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).
Copper toxicity is rare and a daily consumption of 10 to 35 milligrams
is probably safe. A high copper intake adversely effects zinc absorption,
and thus dosage recommendations for copper are often based on zinc intake.
The optimal ratio of zinc to copper is 10:1.
Copper is an emetic and doses over 10-20 milligrams may produce nausea
and over 60 milligrams usually produces vomiting. Copper supplements
should be kept away from children.
Patients with ulcerative colitis might absorb excess copper in their
intestinal tissues which can lead to intestinal disorders, impaired
healing and reduced resistance to infection (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).
RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES
There is no official Recommended
Daily Allowance for copper. The following are safe and adequate ranges
for copper (Murray, 1996).
Copper is found in numerous foods.
The primary sources are legumes, oysters, and other shellfish.
Copper Content of Selected
Foods, in Milligrams per 3.5 oz (100 gm) Serving:
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