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Copper Deficiency - Symptoms, Cause, Sources and Tips

Copper, besides being an important metal for industrial processes, is also essential as a nutrient for our organism. In the human body, copper is present in small amounts but assists the body to perform essential functions in our brain, blood and other places.

The presence of copper is essential, since it is required by at least 12 enzymes found in the body that depend directly on this mineral to maintain its proper functions. Thus, copper deficiency can bring various damages to our health, since its absence directly affects our metabolism.

Let's find out then what are the symptoms and the main causes of lack of copper, in addition to mineral sources to avoid problems related to their deficiency in the body.

Copper deficiency

Copper is an essential mineral for bone, nervous and skeletal health. In addition, it is important for the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which influence the use and transport of iron and oxygen through the blood. Although not a common problem, copper deficiency can harm the body in a number of ways.

Copper is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It can not be synthesized by the body and needs to be obtained through diet. As is essential for our metabolism, since many enzymatic reactions require copper to occur, and because it is involved in the maintenance of cells in virtually all tissues of the body, the mineral is very important to prevent problems such as joint and muscle pain, including arthritis.

In addition, copper acts to maintain energy levels, prevent premature aging and the hormonal balance of the body.

For these and other reasons, it is important to be aware of your daily mineral intake to avoid complications related to copper deficiency.

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Symptoms

The diagnosis of copper deficiency can be difficult to do because the symptoms are often confused with other health problems. This is because the symptoms of lack of copper are very similar to the lack of vitamin B12, for example.

A low level of copper in the body can affect the immune system and drain a person's energy. In this way, the main symptoms of the condition include:

  • Low and cold body temperature without reason;
  • Bony bones or osteoporosis;
  • Mental confusion;
  • Fatigue;
  • Anemia;
  • Ease of contracting diseases;
  • Pale skin;
  • Impaired growth in children and adolescents;
  • Inflammation and / or skin sores;
  • Muscle aches;
  • Joint pain or arthritis;
  • Loss of hair;
  • Weight loss.

If left untreated, copper deficiency can cause some health complications like anemia, pancytopenia and ataxia. Anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients is low. This affects the amount of oxygen delivered to the organs and tissues of the body, which can be very dangerous to health.

Pancytopenia is a disease that can affect the immune system and overall health, as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet counts become extremely low in the blood. The other complication, which is ataxia, is a rare condition in which individuals lose control of body movements. This is because low levels of copper affect the nervous system.

There are other complications of copper deficiency which are even less common, involving problems in bone development, loss of pigment in the hair and skin and problems related to growth.

Causes

The guideline is for an adult to get at least 900 micrograms of copper per day through diet. If little or no copper is ingested or there is a problem in absorbing nutrients, the symptoms described above can be observed.

The main causes of copper deficiency are described below.

- Problems in the intestine and / or stomach

The body absorbs the copper mainly through the stomach and is then directed up the small intestine. If a person has any health condition that affects the stomach or intestine, copper absorption is likely to be compromised. Often the lack of copper is a result of stomach surgeries that affect the absorption of nutrients.

- Zinc Supplements

Another possible cause is zinc supplementation. This is because zinc and copper are metals that compete in the stomach for absorption. Zinc, by having more affinity with the organism, often ends up winning this dispute, being absorbed in the place of the copper.

- Surgeries in the stomach

It is also possible that people who undergo surgery in the stomach present greater difficulty in absorbing nutrients, which eventually causes copper deficiency.

Copper sources

In addition to the supplements, there is how to replace the lack of copper in the body through the diet. The daily recommendation is that a person consume about, milligrams of copper. Most people can ingest this amount without problems on a balanced diet.

The most common sources of copper are breads and cereals. Other sources of copper include foods such as:

  • Oysters;
  • Crab;
  • Almonds;
  • Quinoa;
  • Cashew nut;
  • Whole grain bread;
  • Pastas;
  • Shitake Mushrooms;
  • Cashew;
  • Sunflower seeds;
  • Broccoli;
  • Chickpea;
  • Cabbage;
  • Potatoes;
  • Bananas;
  • Seed of chia;
  • Cocoa powder;
  • Lentil;
  • Goat cheese;
  • Avocado;
  • Bovine liver.

Treatment and tips

The treatment of copper deficiency will depend on your cause. If you are taking zinc supplements, for example, it is very likely that a simple decrease in the intake of the metal will increase the absorption of copper by the body.

The most appropriate treatment is a copper supplement. In the market, supplements such as copper gluconate, copper sulfate and copper chloride are available. The indication is to take approximately 2 milligrams of copper supplement per day to help normalize mineral levels in the body.

In addition, it is highly recommended to increase the intake of copper-rich foods. Another interesting tip is to cook food in pans made of copper so that the food absorbs some of the metal.

Only in very serious cases where supplementation does not yield good results, the doctor may choose to prescribe intravenous treatments. However, in most cases only supplementation and the inclusion of good sources of copper in the diet solve the problem.

Copper deficiency is not usually very common, but it can happen. Despite the complications described above, they hardly occur and the condition is easily treated and copper levels are quickly corrected. According to experts, by following medical recommendations, a copper deficiency can be corrected between 4 to 12 weeks.

Care

Although it brings several health benefits, too much copper can also do harm. Therefore, the ideal is to ingest the recommended amount and no more than that. Copper ingested in high amounts can become toxic. Copper poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even kidney damage or anemia.

In addition, there are reports that an overload or copper deficiency may be associated with two genetic diseases known as Wilson's disease and Menkes' disease. Such diseases are hereditary and very rare. In the case of the genetic condition with copper overload, the excess amounts of the mineral accumulate in organs like liver or brain generating problems in the digestive system and in the nervous system. Therefore, it is also always good to know the medical history of the family to avoid complications.

In this way, have a balanced diet always following the expert's recommendation on nutrient intake. And remember, in addition to copper, to avoid any kind of nutrient deficiency, always have a healthy and balanced diet.

Additional references:

.
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X1630020? ia% 3Dihub
  • https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3691.full
  • https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nyas.12354
  • http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper
  • https://synapse.koreamed.org/DOIx.ph? d = 10.5021 / ad.2013.25.4.405
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubme? erm = 17036563
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6410510
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5637704/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17268249
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/copper-deficiency
  • https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)61161-0/abstract

Do you know anyone who has already suffered from copper deficiency in the body? Do you believe that you ingest the sources of the mineral in sufficient quantities to avoid problems? Comment below.

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