The Surprising Health Benefits of Copper (1/3)

More than just for pipes and pots, it turns out copper has surprising health benefits as well. Here’s why you might consider adding copper to your daily supplement regimen. 

What is copper?Photo: ShutterStock

What is copper?

Copper is rarely discussed, but it’s the third most abundant trace mineral in our bodies. Copper has many benefits: it strengthens blood vessels, bones, tendons and nerves; it helps maintain fertility, ensures healthy pigmentation of hair and skin, and promotes blood clotting. It’s available in nutritional supplements as several forms, including copper amino acid chelates, copper gluconate, copper oxide and copper sulfate.

You’d have to eat about six medium avocados to get the amount of copper you need each day. And although it can be obtained from a wide variety of foods, the typical Western diet is low in copper, because the foods that are the best sources, such as oysters and liver, are not eaten frequently.

What does copper do?

Copper is essential in the formation of collagen, a fundamental protein in bones, skin and connective tissue. Copper is necessary for the manufacture of many enzymes, especially superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is one of the body’s most potent antioxidants. It also may help the body use its stored iron and play a role in maintaining immunity and fertility. 

Copper is involved in the formation of melanin (a dark natural colour found in the hair, skin and eyes) and promotes consistent pigmentation as well.

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