Know the role of copper in the human body | 24 Mantra

Get acquainted with your nutrients - Copper


Get acquainted with your nutrients – Copper


Copper is an important micronutrient found in the human body. It is distributed in different organs and tissues. Copper is a trace element which exists in all most all the cells of the human body.

The amount of copper in an adult human body is only about 75 mg but it is essential for various functions in the body to be carried out. Copper acts as a cofactor for several enzymes such as cytochrome C oxidase and it is necessary to activate a number of enzymes.

Dietary sources of copper

The mineral copper is found in several plants and animal foods. Oysters, nuts, liver, kidney,

dried legumes and whole-grain cereals are good sources of copper. Vegetables such as spinach, peas, and potatoes also provide copper. Tap water also contains copper. Copper is also available in the form of supplements.

Copper recommended allowance

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of copper for an adult man and woman is 900 μg/day.

Absorption of copper

Most of the absorption in the body takes place in the small intestine. The level of copper present in the body depends on the absorption of copper. Vitamin C, zinc, iron, and fiber in excess decrease the absorption of copper. After absorption copper is bound to the protein albumin and free amino acids and is carried to the liver which is the main storage organ of the body. From the liver, copper is transported to other tissues by the protein ceruloplasmin.

Role of copper in the body

Copper is an essential component of many enzymes which perform different functions in the body. It acts as a cofactor for several enzymes which are known as “cuproenzymes”. These enzymes are involved in

  1. Energy production
  2. Iron metabolism
  3. Neuropeptide activation
  4. Connective tissue synthesis
  5. Neurotransmitter synthesis

Iron metabolism

Copper is a component of enzyme ferroxidase which helps iron to bind to transferrin the protein that helps to transport iron to bones that make red blood cells.

Antioxidant protection

Copper is an important component of the enzyme superoxide dismutase. It is a key antioxidant enzyme found inside and outside cells. This enzyme functions as an antioxidant and protects the cells from oxidative damage by the free radicals.

Energy production

Copper is a part of cytochrome C oxidase which is involved in the electron transport chain, vital for aerobic energy generation.

Epinephrine and norepinephrine production

Copper is an essential part of the dopamine β-hydroxylase enzyme. It is involved in the formation of epinephrine and norepinephrine which are also known as catecholamines. These come into action while exercising or when a person is excited.

Collagen production

Copper is a component of the enzyme lysyl oxidase and collagen cannot be formed without this enzyme. Collagen is the connective tissue protein and is very important to bone, joints, and tissue.

Copper deficiency

Copper deficiency is not common. In case there is a deficiency, it may result in anaemia because of its role in iron metabolism. It may also affect joints because collagen production is affected.

A balanced diet containing a variety of foods in moderation will prevent copper deficiency.

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