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  • Copper, not zinc, has an effect on leptin levels

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Thursday, July 22, 2004 6:20 am Email this article
    "Copper and not zinc has an effect on serum leptin levels," concluded a recent study.

    Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells that reduces appetite and may increase metabolism.

    75% of Americans Get Less Than 2 mg Per Day

    Not that I believe that a copper supplement will solve anybody’s weight problem, but this research is interesting in light of the fact that 75 percent of Americans consume less than 2 mg of copper daily according to Leslie M. Klevay, M.D., researcher at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.

    Copper affects blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose tolerance

    Other research has found that

    Copper fights infection, reduces tumors

    Other interesting research about copper includes

    Copper May Reduce Alzheimers, Increase Life Span

    Copper supplements appear to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and increase life span according to two new studies done on mice breed to get Alzheimer’s Disease (Senior, 2004)

    Previous research suggests that free copper, also called environmental copper, may be harmful to the brain. However, copper complexes found in supplements, such as copper gluconate, appear to protect the brain.

    David Westway, one of the the researcher noted that “although previous… studies implied a [damaging] effect of copper…, the two new studies produced no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that copper facilitates [Alzheimer’s] plaque formation. On the contrary, he continues, copper had either no significant effect… or a [protective] effect.”

    I am not surprised. The 500 pages of copper research that I read several years ago when my joints were hurting, that was done by copper researchers, not Alzheimer’s researchers, were very clear about this.

    The copper researchers were emphatic about distinguishing between free copper or environmental copper and copper complexes such as those found in copper supplements.

    I would not be surprised that when they get around to looking at copper supplements and Parkinson’s Disease, they will find the same thing. My guess is that they will find it to be protective. Copper is necessary for the production of dopamine and necessary for protective enzymes in the body.

    Copper Toxicity

    Some health organizations, such as the Life Extension Foundation, have claimed that copper is is a pro-oxidant (as opposed to an anti-oxidant) and should be avoided. This is a misunderstanding.

    Copper researchers as careful to distinguish between copper complexes, such as copper gluconate found in nutritional supplements, and free copper such as you get from copper pipes and copper cookware.

    Free copper is highly reactive, but copper complexes are very stable.

    Researchers also distinguish between the two when they talk about toxicity, being that copper complexes are much safer than free copper.

    Can Copper Supplements Cause Toxicity

    Can you take too much copper? Does it accumulate in the body?

    In practical terms, no.

    If a person take too much copper, they will vomit which prevents copper poisoning, and no, it does not accumulate in the body.

    One study found that taking 10 mg of copper gluconate for three months did not cause copper to accumulate in the body.

    The body seems to be extremely efficient at getting rid of excess copper. The more you take, the less you absorb and the more you excrete. The less you take, the more you absorb and the less you excrete.

    The body seems to balance copper excretion with intake on a daily basis.

    There is a genetic deficiency called Wilson’s Disease which causes copper to accumulate in the body, but it only affects about 8,000 people in the U.S. according to I. Herbert Scheinberg, MD, professor of medicine and head of the division of genetic medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

    The neurological signs of copper poisoning in people with Wilson’s Disease look like a combination of Parkinsons disease and multiple sclerosis according to Dr. Scheinberg.

    The symptoms include tremors, stiffness and difficulty speaking, walking, swallowing and writing.

    “It’s Hard to Get Copper Posioning”

    “Because our bodies have mechanisms to detoxify copper and get rid of it, it’s hard to get copper poisoning,” Dr. Scheinberg said. “You’d really have to work at it.”

    Dr. Scheinberg also noted that chronic occupational exposure to copper in a form that could have toxic effects is relatively rare and that acute poisoning from someone taking an overdose is also uncommon because the problem is self-limiting.

    Ingest too much copper causes vomiting and diarrhea which rids the body of the excess copper which prevents more serious toxic effects.

    Another copper researcher said that as far as he is aware there has NEVER been a case of copper accumulation in a normal healthy person.

    “It’s Hard to Get Copper Posioning”

    Based on personal experience, copper supplements should be taken an hour away from food, that is, an hour after a meal and then do not eat for an hour, otherwise you may experience nausea.


    Olusi S, Al-Awadhi A, Abiaka C, Abraham M, George S. Serum copper levels and not zinc are positively associated with serum leptin concentrations in the healthy adult population. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2003 Feb, 91(2):137-44.

    Senior K. Copper may have a positive effect on alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol. 2004 Jan, 3(1):8.

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