An excellent source of dietary copper, copper supplements may be helpful in the treatment of medical conditions like iron deficiency anemia, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. Read the following HealthHearty article to know more about the benefits and side effects of taking this supplement.
Did You Know?
The anti-inflammatory activity of regular aspirin is just 6% of that of cortisone. However, when copper is mixed with aspirin, the anti-inflammatory activity is found to increase to about 130% of cortisone.
Copper supplements usually come into the picture when our regular diet is found to be inadequate to supply the required nutrient. Although the body needs copper in miniscule amounts, it is necessary for proper growth and to maintain health. So supplemental intake of the mineral in oral or injectable form may become necessary if the copper level is found to be below the normal range.
Fixes Copper Deficiency
Supplements have long been the first line of treatment for nutrient deficiency. Taking a copper supplement delivers the much-needed nutrient that is lacking in your diet. Copper deficiency that may lead to decreased insulin activity and temporary hyperglycemia can be treated by taking a supplement. Although copper deficiency is a rarity, people suffering from chronic diarrhea or those with intestinal problems, such as Crohn’s disease that interferes with absorption of nutrients, are likely to be deficient in this nutrient.
Copper supplements may also be recommended to treat iron-deficiency anemia. It is observed that copper helps facilitate absorption of iron. It ensures that iron reaches the innumerable cells in the body. Your body cannot use iron effectively if your diet is lacking in copper. However, when copper availability is inadequate, it can hinder iron absorption and eventually lead to anemia―a condition in which red blood cells are below normal in number.
Lowers High Cholesterol Levels
Inadequate copper intake has been correlated to increased cholesterol levels. In other words, copper deficiency is one of the possible factors in raising blood cholesterol. So, supplemental intake of copper may help treat copper deficiency and regulate cholesterol levels.
Relieves Rheumatoid Arthritis
The trace mineral copper displays anti-inflammatory activity, which may work in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper promotes activation of a specific enzyme, which is known to safeguard joints against inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients tend to suffer from deficiency in copper. Hence, taking copper supplements that act like an enzyme activator may help alleviate symptoms of RA.
Improves and Prevents Osteoporosis
Although a trace mineral, copper is essential for maintaining bone health. Adequate copper intake plays a crucial role in building strong bones. Copper assists to form collagen, an important component of the bones. So, people suffering from osteoporosis, (a condition marked by weak and brittle bones) may benefit by taking copper supplements. It is observed that copper intake in conjunction with calcium, zinc, and manganese supplements may benefit in reducing the rate of bone loss in elderly women.
Facilitates Wound Healing
Recovery from a wound can become a slow process if the person is found to be deficient in copper. This is because lysyl oxidase―a copper-dependent enzyme―plays a crucial role in repairing and strengthening the connective tissues. So, taking copper supplements may help expedite wound healing.
Treats Cardiac Arrhythmia
People suffering from cardiac arrhythmia (heartbeat is either too fast or too slow) may respond to intake of copper supplements. Copper has a positive impact on the working of the heart and arteries; therefore, its supplemental intake may contribute in improving cardiovascular health.
Copper supplements taken in excess are a cause for concern as overdose can lead to a wide range of health issues. For instance, too much of copper can damage the kidneys. Apart from causing renal failure, copper toxicity has also been linked to damage to the brain and eyes. Excess intake of copper can also disturb the normal functioning of the digestive system and may lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. To put it simply, taking the supplement in large amounts can be a health hazard. Hence, one has to be very careful about the dosage of the supplement. Excess copper levels in the blood can also lead to the development of ulcers in the intestine. In some instances, copper toxicity has also proven to be fatal. So, consult your health care provider to know the exact dosage that works to treat your underlying medical condition.
Chelated copper supplement, a well-absorbed form of copper, can also produce some bothersome side effects. When copper is combined with a chelate, usually an amino acid, the body is able to absorb copper more effectively. However, this type of supplement may lead to muscle pain and weakness. The supplement tends to make a person feel sleepy, and it may also leas to dizziness and mood swings that affect your day-to-day routine. Poor concentration and inattentiveness are some of the possible side effects of taking these supplements.
According to studies conducted in 2005, at the ARS Human Nutrition Research Center in the University of California, it was observed that intake of copper supplements on a regular basis can be detrimental to health as it can raise copper serum to abnormally high levels. The researchers noted that the body is unable to eliminate excess copper when the supplement intake is more than what is obtained from the diet. At daily doses of 2 mg of copper, the body tends to hold more copper that varies from 0.3 to 0.9 mg per day. The study concluded that taking copper supplements in doses of 2 mg or higher per day may lead to abnormal buildup of copper. The study also observed that too much copper may reduce immunity and lower antioxidant levels, thereby making the body less effective in fighting free radicals.
The chelated form of copper supplements may reduce the efficacy of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and other medications such as diuretics, birth control pills and allopurinol that helps to treat gout. Drugs like cimetidine that are used to treat peptic ulcers and heartburn may also be less effective in patients who are put on these supplements.
Copper Supplements and Diabetes
Although copper helps in regulating blood sugar, diabetics need to avoid taking it in supplemental form. Supplemental intake increases the risk of excess accumulation of copper, which can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels in diabetics, despite taking their prescription medication. So, diabetic patients are advised to refrain from consuming supplements in order to prevent blood sugar from fluctuating.
- Presently, scientific evidence that is available is too feeble to believe in the claims that copper supplements are helpful to facilitate wound healing, alleviate cholesterol, or treat arthritis.
- Whereas, clinical studies do show that the copper combined with other supplements might be effective to treat osteoporosis.
- In any case, the supplement should not be taken unless you have discussed it with your doctor.
On the whole, in most cases, copper supplements are not required when you follow a well-balanced healthy diet. Copper deficiency is seldom observed unless you are suffering from medical conditions that inhibit nutrient absorption. So, take the supplement only if necessary after consulting with your health care provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.