Copper is an essential mineral that the body can’t do without. Copper supports a myriad of health benefits and body functions, from the immune system to the brain. Copper boosts energy levels, provides antioxidant support, promotes hair growth, fights the aging of the skin and improves iron absorption. It’s also connected to skeletal health, as it’s shown to boost bone density and reduce arthritis pain. Preventing copper deficiency with adequate supplementation plays a huge role in disease prevention and overall health.
If you aren’t getting enough copper in your diet, copper deficiency could be sabotaging your health. Copper is an essential nutrient that the body relies on to promote enzyme functionality, connective tissue health, and prevent premature aging. Without adequate copper levels, you may be at increased risk for dilated veins, anemia, elevated cholesterol, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, dermatitis, fatigue, and poor resistance to infections. On the other hand, supplementing with copper has been linked to improved iron absorption, better energy and brain function, hair growth and prevention against several diseases.
To prevent a copper deficiency, you can eat more copper-rich foods like meat, liver, seafood, nuts, garlic, lentils, wheat bran, beets, and beans . Daily copper supplements or multivitamins with copper can quickly shore up copper deficiency and ensure you’re getting enough regardless of what you eat.
Here are 11 massive benefits of copper for your body and even your mind:
1. Promotes Growth
Copper is associated with normal growth rates in children. As many adults, especially men, continue growing well into their mid-20s , consistent copper intake is essential for anyone to reach their maximum potential height. Without enough copper in the diet, organs and tissues do not develop properly. In many developing countries, children exhibit birth defects and stunted growth due to copper deficiency.
In one clinical trial, giving infants copper supplements was shown to improve physical development markers as they grew older, including gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and adaptive skills. Copper supplementation also improved neurodevelopment in the children, including language, personal and social skills .
2. Improves Iron Absorption
Copper helps iron from your diet bind to hemoglobin–the red protein in charge of transporting oxygen in your blood. By boosting the absorption of iron in this way, copper promotes a healthy red blood cell count, better organ system oxygenation, increased energy and a lower risk of anemia .
3. Boosts Energy Levels
Copper plays a crucial role in the body’s production of energy at the cellular level. When you don’t get an optimum amount of copper in your diet, you can begin to suffer from feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Copper is a catalyst that leads to the production of ATP–short for adenosine triphosphate, which is the body’s main energy source. ATP is a molecule found in every cell responsible for storing and supplying energy to the cell. Research shows that copper-deficient cells have impaired ATP synthesis compared to copper-sufficient controls. This suggests that shoring up even the smallest copper deficiency could result in better energy supply to your cells .
4. Supports Brain Function
Copper supports optimum brain function. Without enough copper, people tend to experience interruptions in mood, concentration problems, and fatigue. Copper also influences neurotransmitters such as dopamine and galactose, which enhances mood and focus.
Additionally, copper helps the body use antioxidants that are essential at preventing damage from free radicals that can lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases or other serious health conditions. Copper enhances neuro-pathway development and is necessary for protecting the myelin sheath that, in turn, protects nerves. Fully developed neural pathways are linked to improved cognitive function, improved memory, and better decision making .
5. Enhances Thyroid Function
Thyroid function is important for the body. This gland releases hormones that are involved in the regulation of cholesterol levels, menstrual cycles, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, and more. Copper and other trace minerals are needed to ensure that the thyroid doesn’t overfunction or underfunction–conditions known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism . Keeping the thyroid on track keeps other vital functions on track too, as the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your metabolism, heart, muscle control, brain function and bone maintenance .
6. Fights Signs of Aging in Skin
Copper boosts skin health and fights aging by increasing the production of melanin and collagen. Copper plays a vital role in the skin’s synthesis of melanin, which is the pigment that protects it from sun damage . Collagen is the structural protein that prevents wrinkling by promoting elasticity–the ability of your skin to maintain its structure after being stretched. Collagen levels naturally decline with age, but copper deficiency speeds up the decline of collagen, leading to faster aging. Collagen also plays a role in the skin’s healing process, so copper can help wounds and cuts heal faster .
As an antioxidant, copper also fights the appearance of aging by fighting free radicals, which damage cells . Studies show that copper is as important to anti-aging as vitamin A (retinol) and alpha hydroxy acids. In fact, copper peptides are often used in skin care products, eye masks, and even pillowcases to lower inflammation and give the skin a young, healthy glow .
7. Helps You Grow Healthy Hair
Several minerals have been linked to hair health, and copper is one of them. Copper deficiency can be a cause of hair loss, which can be corrected through supplementation. One study showed that copper deficiency was seen in 30 percent of participants with male or female pattern baldness, so taking copper supplements is advisable for anyone experiencing hair loss. Copper’s benefits for skin translate to better scalp health, which in turn increases hair growth by enlarging hair follicles and shortening the resting phase of hair growth .
By boosting hair follicle size, copper makes your hair stronger and fuller. It can even delay the onset of graying hair by increasing melanin production .
8. Reduces Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a common ailment that affects many people as they age. Copper is known to reduce arthritis pain that’s caused by inflammation. Not only does it help reduce joint pain, but it also helps to repair connective tissue and supports muscle strength. While some people living with arthritis choose to wear copper bracelets in the belief that trace amounts can penetrate the skin to help decrease pain, there’s little evidence that this is remotely beneficial. Instead, try to ensure that you’re eating a diet that includes copper-rich foods .
9. Increases Bone Density
Copper is not well-known as a bone-boosting mineral, but studies show it does influence bone health and plays a role in preventing bone loss. Copper plays a role in bone formation and mineralization, and severe copper deficiencies are known to cause skeletal abnormalities, such as Menke’s disease.
One study found that senior citizens with femoral neck fractures had significantly lower copper levels than people the same age without fractures, suggesting that copper may help prevent bone fracture. A 2-year study on postmenopausal women (the highest at-risk group for osteoporosis) found that calcium supplementation with copper and zinc was more effective than calcium alone in preventing bone loss .
10. Provides Antioxidant Support Against Free Radicals
Free radicals are unstable molecules that result as byproducts from the body’s consumption of oxygen. They’re kept in check by antioxidants, which lend electrons to free radicals to stabilize them. Without enough antioxidants, free radicals cause excessive oxidation in the body, which can damage cells and DNA. This damage has a wide range of consequences, from premature aging to an elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s .
Copper is an antioxidant proven in lab studies to defend against oxidative damage to cells. Due to its role in protecting against free radicals, copper deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart disease .
11. Boosts Immune Function
Copper is known to play a role in red blood cell formation, but it also helps synthesize white blood cells, which are your immune system’s first line of defense against pathogens. Copper deficiency leads to a lower white blood cell count, which can cause you to be more susceptible to and defenseless against infections. Studies on infants show that shoring up copper deficiencies lead to immediate improvements in immune function, which could help you get sick less often and for shorter durations .
12. Regulates Gene Expression Inside Cells
There’s DNA inside every cell which instructs your body how to function based on genes. Research shows that higher cellular copper levels are linked to increased expression of specific genes involved in detoxifying free radicals . This means copper not only acts as an antioxidant itself but also improves the body’s reaction to free radicals and enhances its defense against them.
Copper deficiency shouldn’t be ignored, as it can lead to anemia, bone fractures, osteoporosis, thyroid problems, an increased risk of infection and other health issues. Copper supplements are available, though copper is often included in multivitamins, which give you a well-rounded blend of nutrients. A varied diet typically supports adequate copper intake, but multivitamin supplements ensure there’s no room for even the slightest deficiencies, which still affect your health. Too much copper from supplements is considered toxic, so it’s important to take no more than the recommended dosage on any supplement label.