Copper, the third most abundant trace mineral in your body after iron and zinc, is stored primarily in the liver and is present in every tissue in your body. The RDA for copper is 900 micrograms per day. So, what does copper do in your body?
- Copper helps utilize iron. Copper is carried to tissues where needed by ceruloplasmin, a copper-containing transport protein in the blood that also plays a role in iron metabolism. Ceruloplasmin oxidizes iron so that the iron can be carried by its transport protein, transferrin, to tissues where iron is needed.
- Copper helps protect against damage caused by free radicals. Superoxide radicals damage cell membranes and the copper-dependent enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant, accelerates removal of superoxide radicals from the body to reduce damage to cell membranes.
- Copper keeps your bones and connective tissues healthy. Lysyl oxidase (LOX) is a copper-dependent amine oxidase that is critical in the formation and crosslinking of elastin and collagen, which creates strong and flexible connective tissue. LOX also plays a role in bone formation.
- Copper plays an important role in metabolism. Copper is incorporated into several proteins and metalloenzymes that perform essential metabolic functions.
- Copper helps your body produce the pigment melanin. Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme that catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments. Melanin is the pigment that gives rise to the color of your hair and skin.