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Solid copper is shown in the picture above.


Copper is an important cofactor for several important enzymes, such as cytchrome c oxidase, superoxide dismutase, lysyl oxidase and ferroxidase. Some symptoms of copper deficiency include hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol concentration), demineralisation of bones, leukopenia (white blood cell reduction), anaemia, fragility of large arteries and demyelination of neural tissues. The RDA for copper is 1.3-3.0 mg per day.


Anaemia is caused by a lack of the copper-containing enzyme ferroxidase, which converts Fe2+ (absorbed form) into Fe3+ (useful form for reuse). Bone demineralisation and blood vessel fragility can be traced to defects in collagen and elastin formation by lysyl oxidase. Hypercholesterolemia may be related to an increase in the ratio of the saturated to monounsaturated fatty acids of the C18 series due to a deficiency in a desaturase enzyme.


The sources of copper are meat and drinking water. Copper absorption may be dependent on the protein metallothionein, as is zinc, an excess consumption of one of these metals reduces the absorption of the other.

Fascinating Fact: Wilson's disease results in an abnormal accumulation of copper in various tissues, but can be treated using the copper chelating agent penicilliamine.