An essential trace mineral in the body, copper has long been known to play a role in human health – its use dates back to 400 BC when Hippocrates is said to have employed it as a treatment for a variety of disorders. Playing a beneficial role in immune function, copper is needed for healthy white blood cells – the cell type tasked with seeking out, identifying and destroying pathogens. Low copper levels lower the white blood count, which increases vulnerability to infection.
Copper is a vital element of the dark pigment melanin which imparts colouration to the hair and skin, and intake of copper is said to protect greying hair. Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and releases it from its primary storage sites like the liver. Also playing a significant role in the synthesis of haemoglobin, myelin and collagen, copper helps to protect the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves and is actively involved in the production of an element of connective tissue, elastin. Functioning as a coenzyme for energy metabolism from the macronutrients in food we consume, copper enables a normal metabolic process in association with amino acids and vitamins. Oxidative stress is a characteristic of copper deficiency as it acts as an antioxidant, getting rid of free radicals which can damage cells and DNA.