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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 May;63(5):791S-6S.

Copper as an essential nutrient.

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Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile, Santiago.


Animal and human studies have shown that copper is involved in the function of several enzymes. Studies have also shown that copper is required for infant growth, host defense mechanisms, bone strength, red and white cell maturation, iron transport, cholesterol and glucose metabolism, myocardial contractility, and brain development. Copper deficiency can result in the expression of an inherited defect such as Menkes syndrome or in an acquired condition. Acquired deficiency is mainly a pathology of infants; however, it has been diagnosed also in children and adults. Most cases of copper deficiency have been described in malnourished children. The most constant clinical manifestations of acquired copper deficiency are anemia, neutropenia, and bone abnormalities. Other, less frequent manifestations are hypopigmentation of the hair, hypotonia, impaired growth, increased incidence of infections, alterations of phagocytic capacity of the neutrophils, abnormalities of cholesterol and glucose metabolism, and cardiovascular alterations. Measurements of serum copper and ceruloplasmin concentrations are currently used to evaluate copper status. These indexes are diminished in severe to moderate copper deficiency; however, they are less sensitive to marginal copper deficiency. Erythrocyte superoxide dismutase and platelet cytochrome c activities may be more promising indexes for evaluating marginal copper deficiency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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