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The importance of copper for the formation of hemoglobin was studied by Hart and co-workers in 1928. Later studies indicated that copper has many functions.
· Copper is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin.
· It is needed for the synthesis of collagen, melanin and phopholipids.
· It is a constituent of several enzymes.
· Three copper containing proteins namely cerebrocuprein, erythrocuprein and hepatocuprein are present in brain, RBC and liver respectively.
Copper is present in minute quantities in most foods, including liver, kidneys, shell fish and meat. Plant sources of copper are nuts and legumes.
Daily requirement of copper is 0.05 - 0.85 mg/kg body weight for children and 2 mg/ day for adults.
Absorption of copper into the blood stream occurs via the villi of the small intestine. About 30 percent of the dietary copper is absorbed in the duodenum. Only 10 - 60 μg of copper is excreted in normal urine in 24 hours.
In human beings the only condition observed is anemia due to copper deficiency.
Copper deficiency produces marked skeletal changes, osteoporosis and spontaneous fractures.
Elastin formation is impaired in copper deficiency.
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