Copper is an essential mineral that covers many functions in the body, even in the low amounts that are required. Although this problem is not very common, copper deficiency causes countless problems that can compromise your health and harm your body.
This element acts by maintaining the correct metabolic activity and promoting adequate strength at the bone level (yes, not only calcium covers its demand). In America (Canada and the United States) it is quite frequent specific moments with copper deficiency (up to 25%)
The lack of copper is not only caused by not taking foods rich in this metal, but also by the over-intake of other elements that reduce its absorption rate.
In this article, we want to teach you the causes of copper deficiency, the first symptoms, and the foods rich in this essential nutrient.
Symptoms of copper deficiency
1. Vision loss
Sight is one of the most precious organs that we punish the most days with the use of computers and screens that emit artificial light.
In turn, eating habits influence visual acuity and the quality of being able to maintain it for years.
Copper acts as a transporter for many enzymes that connect the nervous system to the organ of vision. Therefore, a lack of this microelement causes vision loss and can be permanent in the most severe cases.
In most cases, the loss of vision caused by the absence of copper is reversible, no improvement in vision has been found by increasing its intake.
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2. Fatigue and weakness
A cause of feeling weak, decay and fatigue could be not covering the desired levels of copper. An important cause of this problem is that it collaborates with the absorption of iron at the intestinal level, so the problem is aggravated.
Anemia or lack of an adequate level of iron causes weakness, which in turn has its origin in the low level of iron. This is because iron is necessary to transport oxygen to all muscle groups, so the lack of it leads to problems at the level of joints and muscle movements.
Does fatigue only come from a lack of iron?
It is not only for this reason since copper is also necessary to produce the energy source of the organism (ATP or adenosine triphosphate). In any case, the synergy between copper and iron is acting in several ways to keep us in an active and energetic state.
The origin of many problems and diseases are caused by a deficiency of copper in the body, at least in its origin, and this is linked to the eating habits we have.
The immune system influences the ability or sensitivity we have to cope with bacteria and viruses. In this, copper has a lot to say, as it contributes to the good maintenance of the immune system.
The white blood cell levels are intimately related to the levels of copper we store in our metabolism. In turn, this makes us more likely to contract diseases (pneumonia, flu, colds, etc.) if our body does not have enough weapons to fight infections. [See functions of copper]
A copper deficiency is linked to a decrease in the manufacture of Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that attacks pathogenic microorganisms when they enter the body.
3. Loss of melanin in the skin and gray hair
The pigment Melanin is what contributes to characterizing the color of the skin, increasing when we are exposed to the Sun in the summer.
That one person has a lighter skin tone than another means that he has a lower concentration of these pigments, and in turn is related to the accumulation of copper in the body.
The enzymes that produce melanin need the copper micronutrient as a catalyst. A lack of this element causes, in the short term, greater paleness in the skin.
At the capillary level, copper is also involved in the accumulation of melanin in the hair, so it causes anticipation in gray hair. In this aspect, there is a lack of contribution and studies to correctly analyze the relationship between gray hair and copper deficiency.
4. Weakening of the bone system
Not only calcium or magnesium act in the construction of the bone system. A diet based on foods rich in calcium and magnesium does not guarantee strong, shock-resistant bones. In this regard, copper has a lot to say, since it acts as the glue of bone tissue, helping to create new structures and reinforcing existing ones.
This role is performed based on the production of osteoblasts, cells responsible for forming the bone tissue of our body.
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5. Lack of memory and quality in learning
Although there are vitamin supplements on the market to help retain information in our heads, if we have copper deficiency we will continue to maintain the same problem.
Copper is closely linked to brain activity and the formation of neural connections. It is a great catalyst for energy transfer processes to the brain, so the lack of this mineral reduces brain activity.
In such a case, we will notice problems in memory retention and the ability to think and act correctly. This is very important, as the relationship between copper and Alzheimer’s or senile dementia is currently being analyzed.
6. Temperature sensitivity
There is a studied relationship between the sensation of cold due to low temperatures and copper deficiency.
This is because this element, together with zinc, intervene in the functionality of the thyroid gland.
If at the blood level we can not enjoy an adequate level of copper, the hormone levels T3 and T4 are considerably reduced, limiting the functionality of this gland.
The sensation of cold and heat is regulated by the thyroid, as it influences many regulatory aspects of the body. This has been documented in more than 80% of patients with copper deficiency.
7. Reduction of motor activity
A person suffering from a significant lack of copper may have difficulty performing activities that involve movement for the lower musculoskeletal system. Copper is related to the health of the spinal cord, through the function of certain enzymes that act in this part of the body.
This is linked to the signals that occur between the brain and the spinal cord, so in the long term, it is as if we are paralyzed.
A lack of copper studied in animals has led to the conclusion that there is a decrease of almost 60% in the signals between the brain and the spinal cord.
Foods rich in copper
Once we have known the disorders created by the absence of copper, we will know what foods we can take rich in this essential micronutrient.
Taking a varied diet, it is rare to suffer from this deficiency, since it is usually present in a multitude of foods.
The main ones are as follows:
For a consumption of 200 kcal of each food:
- Mollusks and clams: 39 mg
- Veal, veal liver: 17 mg
- Duck liver: 9 mg
- Coffee (with and without caffeine): 10 mg
- Algae (spirulina): 4 mg
- Squid and crustaceans: 4 mg
- Mushrooms: 4 mg
- Capers: 3 mg
- Beets: 2 mg
- Tomato juice: 2 mg
The recommended daily allowance of copper (RDA) is 0.9 mg daily. We can also find it in foods such as dark chocolate (100 g provides 88% RDA) and nuts and other nuts (28 grams provide 35% RDA).
As you can see, it is quite simple, even taking a vegetarian or vegan diet, to cover the daily needs of copper.
What if we take too much copper?
Although the whole article has been focused on not having enough levels of this microelement, we can also go over and accumulate it in excess. In this case, there are also consequences that can become serious, in what is known as copper toxicity.
Some of the side effects caused by a high concentration of this micronutrient are the following:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Palpitations and irregular heartbeat.
- Stomach pain
- Kidney and liver damage
- Abnormal breathing
- Reduced blood pressure
However, having such high levels of copper simply by eating food is very rare and is usually associated with other pathologies, since the body absorbs not all copper.