Some nutrients have caught everyone’s attention. For example, vitamin D has long been one of the main headlines. It is said that this vitamin can reduce the risk of various diseases, from cancer to depression.
Of course, when you have a cold, try to get more vitamin C or drink a glass of orange juice. But in the meantime, other nutrients – although important – seem to be less visible. One of the lesser known cases is a mineral called copper.
A powerful mineral
Copper is extremely important. This mineral plays a vital role in fighting chronic inflammation, red blood cell formation and boosting immunity. Copper is also essential for the formation of myelin, which acts as an insulator for nerves and ensures that they work properly. Copper also plays a role in the metabolism of cholesterol and glucose. New research from the University of California has shown that this metal is one of the key to burning fat.
Scientific research has not done much on copper in the past, but now things have changed. As more and more researchers realize the benefits of this mineral and its role in the body, we will come to the conclusion that copper, like vitamin D, is very powerful.
How much copper is enough?
One of the reasons copper is ignored is that it is difficult to measure. This requires a very specialized and expensive test that is not usually found in a doctor’s office. Although it is difficult to detect copper deficiency in the body, there are signs that you should consider raising copper in your diet.
The symptoms of copper deficiency can be similar to those of iron deficiency, especially when it comes to feeling tired. Joint pain is a common early symptom, and copper deficiency for a long time can also contribute to osteoporosis. Researchers have warned that people with malabsorption problems – including people with celiac disease or chronic diarrhea – are at greater risk of not absorbing copper.
The best resources
The good news is that getting enough copper is not a difficult task – eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables can easily solve the problem of deficiency. Copper is found in most plant foods. Plants with dark green leaves such as spinach and cabbage are good choices. Nuts (especially cashews), seeds, whole grains and mushrooms also contain copper.
One of the richest sources of copper is liver – copper can usually be found in the liver of any animal. Not everyone may like liver, but if you like this food and it is easily available, you have found an easy way to supply your body with copper.
The amount of virtual copper you are allowed to use daily is 0.9 mg. 28 grams of beef liver contains almost twice that amount of copper, 28 grams of cashews contain about 0.6 mg of copper, and one cup of cooked cabbage contains 0.2 mg of this mineral.
No liver for dinner? You can meet this need by eating foods containing copper throughout the day. For example, you can use this program to get the amount of copper you need daily:
Breakfast: Three-quarters of a cup of whole grain breakfast cereal (0.1 mg), 1 cup of strawberry (0.07 mg), low-fat milk or milk substitute.
Lunch: lentil soup with spinach (0.58 mg), one-third cup hummus (0.5 mg), 28 g whole grain crackers (0.1 mg) oranges (0.06 mg)
Dinner: Grilled fish with one-half cup of mushrooms (0.18 mg), one cup of asparagus (0.3 mg), one-half cup of brown rice (0.1 mg), salad with two cups of lettuce (0.05 mg)
Lots of good stuff
Once you realize how vital copper is to your health, you may be tempted to take supplements. The recommended amount of copper per day is 10 mg, and if you ingest more than this amount of copper, the body will accumulate the amount of unused copper in the liver. You may taste metal in your mouth, raise it, or even have cirrhosis of the liver. But this warning only applies to supplements, it is impossible to get a toxic dose by eating foods rich in copper.