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
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
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.