Copper is not only a naturally occurring element found in various forms and concentrations in the earth’s crust, oceans, lakes and rivers, but also a micronutrient essential for life. The life of flora and fauna has developed within the framework of this natural presence of copper. Therefore, most organisms have an intrinsic mechanism for its use.
For the human organism, copper has the significance of an essential micronutrient, i.e. humans need copper in order to survive. Usually, the daily requirement of an adult of approx. 2 mg is reached by the intake of a balanced diet with a rich portion of cereals, meat, root vegetables, legumes, nuts or even chocolate. Since copper is particularly important for the metabolism, a copper deficiency can lead to serious health problems.
Copper is an micronutrient that is needed for important metabolic processes of the human organism.
The health benefits of copper are numerous, because copper influences many bodily functions as a component of vital enzymes and proteins: Copper is essential for infant growth, bone strength, maturation of red and white blood cells, iron transport, cholesterol and glucose metabolism, heart muscle contraction and brain development.
The presence of copper in all body organs as well as in the blood already indicates important functions in metabolism. The micronutrient is found particularly frequently in the liver, brain, bones and hair. An adequate copper supply is also particularly important for pregnant women, the developing foetus and newborn babies.
Without copper, our blood cells would also be quite colourless. So far, 16 copper-containing enzymes are known. They are all involved in the formation of red blood cells, and they help to incorporate iron into the red blood pigment, haemoglobin.
According to the World Health Organisation, there is a greater risk from copper deficiency than from copper toxicity, even in developed areas such as the USA and Western Europe. Copper deficiency can lead to health problems such as anaemia, cardiovascular problems, bone abnormalities and dysfunction of the nervous and immune systems, lungs, thyroid, pancreas and kidneys. Copper deficiencies are extremely rare and are caused by absorption disorders (mostly of genetic origin), by exclusively parenteral nutrition, by one-sided feeding of children with cow’s milk and by high or long-term increased doses of the element zinc. Overdoses are also rare and manifest as nausea, cramps and diarrhoea.
A balanced and varied diet usually ensures that the body is fully supplied with copper.
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Environment and Health
Copper is natural. Copper is found in traces in almost all rocks. The average copper content in the earth's crust is about 0.006 %. In the order of frequency of all elements, copper is thus in 23rd place.More