Maintaining good health requires that you consume proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Essential trace minerals, such as copper, are needed only in minimal quantities.
Copper is vital for the development, growth and maintenance of your brain, bones, tissue, heart, and many other body organs. It is important for the formation of red blood cells, as well as helping you to absorb and use iron. It also helps your body to use and release of important proteins and enzymes. These enzymes then produce energy in your cells and help to regulate nerve transmission, blood clotting, and transporting oxygen through your blood.
Copper is present in every tissue of the body, but is primarily stored in the liver.
Balancing with Zinc
You may need to supplement your current diet with additional copper, if you are on a regimen that includes long-term use of zinc. This is because zinc hinders your body’s ability to absorb the copper that you need. Your prostate has the highest levels of zinc of any organ in your body. This is because zinc supports good prostate health. Research has found that low levels of zinc in the prostate are associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) as well as other prostate conditions.
As men age past 50, they have a greater risk of developing BPH, or an enlarged prostate. Cells in the prostate gland can overgrow, causing swelling that may obstruct the urethra, which then makes urination difficult. The result is a weak urinary stream, hesitancy, and other uncomfortable urinary symptoms such as increased frequency and urgency during the night.
Symptoms of BPH may include: A weak or hesitant urine stream, incontinence, increased frequency of urination, particularly at night, the feeling that your bladder has not completely emptied.
Zinc is also a big part in producing sex and thyroid hormones and is important for proper immune system function. A nutritional supplement designed for prostate health should maintain a proper balance between zinc and copper because of zinc’s tendency to reduce the absorption of copper in the body.
Zinc and copper actually compete with one another for absorption and utilization in the body's biochemical pathways. When your intake of zinc is higher than your relative intake of copper, the excess zinc actually interferes with the activity of enzymes, which depend on copper for their biological function. When not enough copper is there to help these enzymes, they cannot fulfill their biochemical duties. Both animal and human evidence suggests that, for optimal utilization of both minerals, the balance between zinc and copper should be about ten-to-one.
Although only a small amount of copper is necessary to have all of these functions work properly, many men still do not meet their daily requirements. This can be the result of not eating enough foods that are rich in copper. Also, some foods may contain indigestible fiber which binds with copper and prevents it from being absorbed. Taking large amounts of vitamin C, zinc, and iron may also decrease copper absorption.
An inability to absorb copper can also be due to inadequate stomach acid. It is estimated that between 15-35 percent of adults over age 60 have some degree of gastric atrophy, or inadequate stomach acid which can impair your body's ability to absorb acid soluble minerals like copper and zinc. Copper and zinc depend on acid to enhance intestinal absorption.
Natural Food Sources
The richest food sources of zinc include shellfish, and meats like beef, veal, pork and lamb. Foods with the highest copper content are shellfish, organ meats like liver, as well as raisins, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and whole grains. Best of all, chocolate is a good source of copper.
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