COPPER...an oft neglected mineral


We often read about particular vitamins and minerals being especially beneficial for health. However, its important to mention that vitamins and minerals work in balance with each other. If one nutrient is over-supplied or under-supplied, the entire interconnected network is affected.

One especially important nutrient relationship is the one between copper and zinc. Its a complicated relationship because when one is too high, the other is generally too low.

The human body has a brilliant mechanism for keeping copper, zinc, iron, magnesium and other nutrients in balance and within the proper ranges. This process is called homeostasis.

Unfortunately, this homeostasis is sometimes over-ruled by a bad diet, stress, infection, medications, incorrect supplementation or dysfunctions in metabolism and genetics.

Copper plays a vital role in ensuring the mental, physical and chemical well-being in the humans. Copper, together with ascorbate are important for regulating the synthesis of neurotransmitters that influence psychiatric mood behaviour and aspects of mental health. When copper levels are high, more norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) are synthesized from dopamine, which may cause feelings of anxiety, agitation, panic and racing thoughts. Copper ratios are important in many functions within the central nervous system. It is also required for monoamine oxidase, an enzyme related to serotonin production.

Copper is also central to cellular energy production, and certain conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue which feature in mitochondrial dysfunction have possible disorders of copper metabolism as well.

'' Copper is required for proper functioning of many important enzyme systems. Copper-containing enzymes include ceruloplasmin, SOD (mitochondrial function), cytochrome oxidase, tyrosinase, monamine oxidase, diamine oxidase, lysyl oxidase,and phenylalanine hydroxylase'' ( Linder & Hazegh-Azam, 1996)


Copper overload is often seen in women. Oestrogen interacts with copper and may result in copper retention and toxicity.

Unbound copper and iron result in oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the antioxidant system and free radicals. The oxidative damage caused by free radicals can result in DNA damage and damage to lipids and proteins.

Zinc is another mineral essential for proper cellular function, regulation of the immune system, wound healing, synthesis of neurotransmitters and is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme, SOD.

SIMPLE FOOD SOURCES

Pumpkin seeds, seeds, nuts, oysters, shellfish, spirulina, liver, dark leafy greens, shitake mushrooms, potatoes, millet, figs, dark chocolate.


Including a wide range of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants on a daily basis should be delicious and fun!