The Minerals Section
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Copper Part 2
Copper is a trace mineral, and hardly anyone today is ever deficient in copper. Numerous foods contain copper, although the particularly rich sources such as liver and oysters are not commonly consumed. Legumes, other shellfish, nuts, potatoes, carrots, turnips, papaya, apple, molasses, and corn oil also contain significant amounts of copper. Copper is also sometimes found in drinking water, and can be absorbed in the body by cooking with copper pans or utensils, or from drinking or cooking with water that has passed through copper pipes.
However, even mild copper deficiency can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels. More serious cases of copper deficiency may cause symptoms of fatigue, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, osteoporosis, infertility, and dull, brittle hair. Other conditions associated with copper deficiency include decreased pigmentation of skin / vitiligo, premature graying hair, hernias, aneurysm, varicose veins, dermatitis, thyroid problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, lowered immunity, poor healing, allergies, mood and nervous disorders. People with Crohn's disease, celiac disease, albinism, Menke's disease (a rare problem of copper malabsorption in male infants), iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition, and those that regularly consume alcohol or antacids are at an elevated risk for copper deficiency.
There is no official Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for copper, but adequate intake for adults has been set at 8 to 3.0 milligrams each day. Copper supplements are available in tablet or capsule form, although zinc/copper combination supplements are a better choice. Zinc and copper compete for absorption into the body, and these minerals must be balanced at a ratio of 10 parts zinc to one part copper. In addition, itís best to take copper supplements with a meal that does not include acidic foods or beverages to avoid nausea.
It is important to note that getting too much copper in your diet can be toxic. Although copper toxicity is rare, too much copper can actually mimic the symptoms of copper deficiency, and lead to raised LDL cholesterol levels, impaired healing, anemia, and repressed immune system. As little as 10 milligrams of copper taken at one time has been reported to cause stomachache, nausea, muscle pain, and other unpleasant reactions, and doses over 60 milligrams usually produce vomiting. Excessive copper levels may also be associated with schizophrenia, learning disabilities, hyperactivity / ADD, miscarriage, memory and concentration problems, postpartum depression, vascular degeneration, headaches, sleep disorders, arthritis, and the development of cancerous and noncancerous tumors.
Return to Copper, part 1
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