Copper: does the word make you think of bright, shiny pennies, plumbing pipes, or jewelry? Actually, this versatile mineral is very important for the health of your bones and your whole body.
Many biological processes, including bone formation, depend on it – that’s why it’s a Foundation Supplement on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. And it’s found in delicious foods like almonds, sesame seeds, and a variety of seafood.
Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at copper, starting with its role in reversing and preventing osteoporosis and osteopenia.
How Copper Helps Your Bones
While you don’t need a large amount of this mineral, it’s nonetheless crucial for youthful, fracture-resistant bones, and here’s why.
Connective tissue formation relies on copper, and your bones rely on connective tissue. As a functional component of several coenzymes, copper is critical for the coenzyme-dependent process of the cross-linking of collagen and elastin. The specific coenzyme involved in this process is lysyl oxidase, which depends on copper for its proper function.
Collagen and elastin make up your strong, flexible connective tissue. It actually forms the bone matrix where minerals are deposited, and its tough, flexible nature is largely responsible for bone’s tensile strength and fracture resistance (it helps bones bend instead of break, in other words).
Copper interacts with other trace minerals, such as manganese, iron, and zinc. Copper is the third moiety in a trio of minerals (manganese, zinc, and copper) that make up an extremely important antioxidant called Superoxide Dismutase. This antioxidant is a key player in saving your bones from oxidative damage and restoring their youthful integrity, and without copper, Superoxide Dismutase simply can’t form.
Additionally, copper is required for the proper uptake of iron (more on that below) and zinc, with excessive zinc supplementation resulting in decreased copper absorption. On the other hand, deficient zinc skews the copper-zinc balance, with zinc supplementation actually restoring plasma levels of copper.1
Iron metabolism depends on copper. There are actually four enzymes, all of which contain copper, that convert iron from its ferrous form (Fe2+) to its ferric form (Fe3+). This is important, because it is the ferric form of iron that your cells can use, particularly in the formation of red blood cells and the conversion of iron into hemoglobin. Without copper to convert the iron to a usable form, it lodges in soft tissues. This is why low plasma copper has been linked to iron accumulation in the liver, brain, and retina.2
This is also why copper deficiency can cause anemia and low levels of white blood cells that fight infection. Additionally, sufficient copper is necessary for oxygenation of tissues, including bone.
Oxygenation contributes to body alkalinity. In Chapter 14 of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, deep breathing is included as an important stress-reducing technique that boosts bone health. That’s because, besides relaxing you, breathing deeply increases the pH of the blood (alkalizes it) by raising its oxygen content. But this is compromised without copper.
Various antioxidant actions, such as the formation of Superoxide Dismutase mentioned above, depend on copper. An enzyme called ceruloplasmin, which is the major copper-carrying protein in the blood, has copper as one of its components.
According to research, ceruloplasmin appears to have antioxidant functions in the body. For one thing, ceruloplasmin bonds with free-radicalized copper ions to prevent them from doing oxidative damage. For another, ceruloplasmin may perform a similar function with unstable iron ions.3
Antioxidant action also benefits your whole body, protecting tissues besides just bone from oxidative damage. There are other ways that copper benefits overall health, too.
Overall Health Benefits Of Copper
- Synthesis of myelin, the fatty sheath that covers nerve axons, requires a copper-dependent enzymatic process. There are other ways that copper contributes to the proper function of the central nervous system, such as the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine. For this conversion to happen, a copper-containing enzyme, β-hydroxylase, must catalyze the process.
- Copper helps form the pigmentation in skin (melanin), hair, and eyes.
- Copper regulates the transcription of various key genes, mainly by increasing oxidative stress that stimulates an increase in genes whose role is to detoxify free radicals.
- Copper helps regulate your heart’s rhythm and your thyroid glands, and it is utilized by the body in wound healing.
Including Copper In Your Bone-Healthy Diet
As with other minerals, it’s vital to ingest a bioavailable form of copper, and the most bioavailable form of any nutrient is found in foods.
Here are some of the richest food sources of copper:
- Beef liver*
- Crab meat
- Sesame seeds*
- Sunflower seeds*
- Pumpkin seeds*
- Dark chocolate*
How Much Copper Do I Need?
The US RDA for copper is 0.9 mg, or 900 micrograms, but given its important role in bone matrix synthesis, I recommend around 2 mg a day. For example, one ounce of sunflower seeds contains 519 micrograms, and one ounce of beef liver has 4,128 micrograms.
When you choose a copper supplement, make sure it’s a chelated form. Chelated copper can be found combined with various amino acids, but the bisglycinate amino acid complex ensures the best bioavailability of this important mineral.
Beyond Calcium: The Osteoporosis Reversal Program Recognizes Nutrient Synergy
You might be surprised to see a post on copper on an osteoporosis site. After all, isn’t calcium the mineral you need for stronger bones? While calcium is very important, it does not work in isolation.
Bone health is dependent on the interplay of many biological processes involving multiple nutrients, enzymes, proteins, and more. Calcium and copper are just single nutrients that deserve periodic emphasis and explanation like all Foundation Supplements on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
You’ll find the list of bone-building nutrients known as Foundation Supplements to be quite extensive. Yet the Program simplifies this vast information so it’s not overwhelming. Instead, it’s clearly presented with scientific studies supporting every point, and all Foundation Supplements are accompanied by lists of alkalizing and acidifying foods that contain them.
If you have any recipes or ideas for using some of the foods in this list, please feel free to share with the community for more delicious ways to get plenty of copper.
Till next time,
1 Guo, CH and Wang, CL. “Effects of zinc supplementation on plasma copper/zinc ratios, oxidative stress, and immunological status in hemodialysis patients.” Int J Med Sci. 2013;10(1):79-89. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23289009
2 Kono, S. “Aceruloplasminemia.” Curr Drug Targets. 2012;13(9):1190-1199. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22515740
3 Johnson, MA, Fischer JG, Kays SE. “Is copper an antioxidant nutrient?” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1992;32(1):1-31.