Do you know the symptoms of copper poisoning? You have about 50 to 80 milligrams (mg) of copper in your body that’s mostly found in your muscles and liver. This small amount of copper is necessary for our bodies to function normally. It’s essential for healthy organs, proper growth and maintenance of bone, formation of blood cells, and metabolizing of cholesterol. It’s necessary to fight infection, repair injured tissue, and promote healing. It’s also essential in the healthy development of fetal tissue and in the development of infants. Too little copper can lead to blood disorders, impaired neurological function, and elevated risk for bone and heart disease. But too much copper can have serious, even deadly consequences.
Symptoms of Copper Toxicity
Consuming too much copper can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever, dark stools from internal bleeding, jaundice and kidney damage. Over the long term, copper can build up in the liver causing cirrhosis and liver cancer. This build up can manifest as dark rings, called Kayser-Fleischer rings, in the eye. It also damages the bone and nervous system. Too much copper in our system interferes with other nutrients, preventing them from doing their jobs properly. For example, too much copper interferes with the iron uptake in our bodies and can cause anemia. Other symptoms of long term exposure include tremors, dementia, metallic taste in the mouth, chills, and burning sensations.
How Does Copper Get in Your Body?
Most copper is taken in through the food and water we eat and drink. In water, the EPA has set a safety limit of 1,300 parts per billion. Most of this comes from the copper pipes, faucets, and fittings our drinking water flows through. Water standing in the pipes for an extended period of time absorbs the copper. That’s why you should always run your water for a minute or so in the morning before drinking or using the water to cook. It is also recommended that any water you use for cooking or drinking come from the cold tap, never the hot. Hot water will absorb more copper than cold water, so health departments advise to NEVER USE HOT WATER FOR MIXING BABY FORMULA. Copper is also found in insecticides, fungicides, old coins, some aquarium products, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Extended exposure to this products can also lead to copper poisoning.