Published: 09/19/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Copper is a shiny, orange-red metal which, together with silver and gold, form part of what is known as the copper family. This metal is characterized by being one of the best conductors of electricity, after silver. It was one of the first metals used by prehistoric humans. Followed by iron and aluminum, it is the third most used metal in the world. It plays an important biological role in the photosynthesis process of plants, although it does not form part of chlorophyll’s composition.
For humans, copper is an element that has important properties and functions in the body and for health.
- Contributes to the formation of red blood cells and maintenance of blood vessels, the immune system, the nervous system, and the bone system (bones, tendons, etc.) It is an essential trace element for human life.
- This metal is an essential ingredient in the enzyme that makes hemoglobin, which makes copper a preventative for anemia (which is why it is frequently called iron’s “twin”).
- Copper is beauty’s newest partner, as it has been proven to have benefits and properties that are capable of reducing expression lines and minimizing marks on the skin, so it can be a great help in acne and dermatitis cases.
- A few studies have proven that it participates in healing, as it has antibiotic and antimicrobial effects. With the use of socks and clothing made with this metal, it was proven that it not only promoted the disappearance of these conditions, but also improved the looks of skin.
- Using pillowcases and sheets can help fight skin conditions like acne, blackheads infections, etc.
Where is copper found?
Copper can be found in a large amount of common foods, like these mentioned bellow:
- Seafood: lobsters, oysters, fish, seaweed, seafood cocktails, salmon, tuna, etc.
- Legumes and vegetables (beans, lentils, sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, alfalfa, carrots, radish, etc.)
- Coco (chocolate)
- Seeds (sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, sesame, etc.)
- Whole wheat (and some whole grains that retain all their natural fiber, like oats, barley, rye, etc.)
- Dried fruits (apples, guava, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, mangoes, etc.)
- Potable water
- Air (we breath small amounts of copper during the day)
What percentage of copper does the body need?
Between 2 or 3 milligrams a day. Half this dosage is for children.
What causes a deficiency or excess of copper?
Because it is abundant in a lot of foods, a copper deficiency is rare in the body. However, when copper levels are low, it can cause a liver disease known as Wilson’s disease. Also, because it is a immunological generator, a slight deficiency impedes T cells from fulfilling their functions at maximum capacity. T cells are vital elements that notify the immune system when to be active and when to rest. When they grow weak, the immune system weakens, and exposes the body to a larger risk of contagion and infections. Copper is also related to a substance called interleukin-2, which is a chemical messenger crucial to the immune system. An copper deficiency could also cause anemia, and all other illnesses that this may cause.
Copper absorption is necessary for human health, and even though the body can tolerate high copper concentrations, an excess could cause health problems.
Copper’s cosmetic and beauty applications
This reddish, malleable, soft metal, that is a quality conductor, is currently used to make beauty products like makeup brushes, gloves, eye masks for sleeping, and even sheets, because it has been discovered that frequent use helps improve skin quality.
The sheets idea was Jeffrey Gabbay’s, a business owner that wanted to create a fabric that mites could not develop nor survive, since his son suffered from asthma. “After several tests, he found that copper was able to kill these microbes”. The use of these special sheets reduced his son’s symptoms considerably. A lot of other health and beauty products were derived from this test.
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