The Minerals Section
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Copper is the third most abundant trace mineral in the body, and helps protect the cardiovascular, skeletal, and nervous systems. It is needed to make an enzyme that keeps your arteries from hardening and possibly rupturing, and for the production of phospholipids, which help form the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. The body also has to have copper to produce the powerful antioxidant, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).
Copper plays a key role in the development and maintenance of healthy skin and hair. The body needs copper to produce the skin pigment melanin, which colors the skin, hair, and eyes. When hair turns gray due to copper deficiency, taking copper supplements may reverse the process. Copper also helps regulate the function of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for the creation of collagen in the bones, connective tissues, and skin. Many topical creams designed to firm and restore the skin’s elasticity now contain copper peptides as an active ingredient.
Copper helps the body fight cardiovascular disease. It promotes low cholesterol levels, and discourages the development of atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms by keeping collagen and elastin fibers healthy. Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) and high blood pressure have been linked to an absence of copper in the diet. Copper also helps supply the heart with healthy, oxygenated blood. It works together with iron in the respiration and synthesis of hemoglobin. In fact, copper is believed to be necessary for proper storage, use, and release of the iron needed to produce hemoglobin in red blood cells. For this reason, copper is sometimes used to treat anemia.
Approximately 50 percent of the body’s total copper content is found in the bones and muscles. Copper is a common treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis—because it helps promote healthy collagen in the body, copper may relieve aching joints and minimize loss in mineral bone density. An old folk remedy for arthritis calls for wearing a copper bracelet to reduce pain and inflammation. The theory behind this remedy is that copper from this bracelet is thus absorbed through the skin. The modern approach is to take copper supplements, thus ensuring ingestion of consistent amounts. Copper is also part of the compounds ceruloplasmin and SOD, antioxidants that may help reduce arthritis symptoms.
Copper, part 2
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