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Copper is found in all tissues, but its heaviest concentration is in the liver, kidneys, muscles, and brain. As an essential component of several enzymes, it helps in the formation of hemoglobin, aids in the transport of iron to bone marrow (soft tissue in bone center) for the formation of red blood cells, and participates in energy production.
Sources.Copper is available in many foods, but its best sources includeorgan meats, shellfish, legumes, nuts, cocoa, and whole-grain cereals. Human milk is a good source of copper, but cow’s milk is not.
Requirements.The DRI for copper is 900 mg for adults.
Deficiency or Toxicity.Copper deficiency is extremely rare amongadults, occurring only in people with malabsorption conditions and in cases of gross protein deficiency, such as kwashiorkor. It is apparent sometimes in premature infants and in people on long-term parenteral nutrition (feeding via a vein) programs lacking copper. A copper deficiency can be caused by taking excess zinc supplements. Anemia, bone demineralization, and impaired growth may result.
Excess copper can be highly toxic. A single dose of 10 to 15 mg can cause vomiting. Wilson’s disease is an inherited condition resulting in accumulation of copper in the liver, brain, kidneys, and cornea. It can cause damage to liver cells and neurons. If the excess is detected early, copper-binding agents can be used to bind copper in the bloodstream and increase excretion.
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