Copper is a common element that is found just about everywhere you look in our society. One of the most visible forms of copper is in the copper penny, of course, but copper wiring is also used in a huge range of different electrical applications, including the wiring used to link computers together.
Up until fairly recently, most people did not realize that the body requires copper. In fact, the amount of copper used by the body is very small. However, the body also uses a very tiny amount of iron, and it is crucial to healthy functioning!
The human body cannot synthesize iron, copper, or other metallic elements on its own, so these must be provided by the diet or by supplements. Copper is crucial for maintaining regular metabolic function — the processing of food into energy and waste.
The average person may have only about a tenth of a single gram of copper in his or her entire body. In addition to its role in metabolism, that copper helps with all of the following:
— Generation of energy that allows biochemical reactions to take place
— Protection of the skin and development of melatonin into pigment
— Healing, strengthening, and making connective tissues more elastic
Copper deficiency is rare; however, it can be serious. Without this chemical that helps to ensure connective tissues are appropriately supple, the heart and other organs can be damaged or overworked.
Copper is found in a relatively broad range of foods, including nuts, seeds, and many meats and vegetables. However, that does not necessarily mean that all people consume as much copper as they need for their body. Recent studies by the National Academy of Sciences have suggested that diet alone accounts for an average of only about 25% of the copper people need.
Copper is found in a variety of medicines and can also be prescribed on a supplemental basis. If a copper deficiency is suspected, it is vital to consult with a physician.