Excerpt from the Periodic Table of
Metals, Minerals & Rare Earths
Cu - Copper is found in igneous rocks at 55 ppm; shale at 45 ppm; sandstone
at 5ppm; limestone 4 ppm; fresh water at 0.01 ppm; sea water at 0.003 ppm; soils
at 2 to 100 ppm (copper is strongly absorbed by humus; there are known areas
of the world with extreme copper deficiency); marine plants 11 ppm; land plants
14 ppm; marine animals 4 to 50 ppm ( accumulates in the blood of annelids (worms),
crustaceans and mollusks, especially cephalopods; land animals at 2 to 4 ppm
with highest levels in the liver.
Copper is essential to all living organisms and
is a universally important cofactor for many hundreds of metalloenzynes. Copper
deficiency is widespread and appears in many forms . Copper is required in many
physiological functions (i.e.- RNA, DNA, lysil oxidase cofactor, melanin Production
(hair and skin pigment), electron transfer of oxygen subcellular respiration,
tensile strength of elastic fibers in blood vessels, skin, vertebral discs,
Neonatal enzootic ataxia (sway back, lamkruis)
was recognized as a clinical entity in 1937 as a copper deficiency in pregnant
sheep. Copper supplements prevented the syndrome which was characterized by
demyelination of the cerebellum and spinal cord. Cavitation or gelatinous lesions
of the cerebral white matter, chromatolysis, nerve cell death and myelin aplasia
(failure to form). These are all changes identical with human cerebral palsy.
Famous people affected or dying of an obvious
copper deficiency include Albert Einstein (ruptured cerebral aneurysms), Paavo
Aerola (ruptured cerebral aneurysms), Conway Twitty (ruptured abdominal aorta
aneurysm), George and Barbara Bush (thyroid disease, white hair) - four to six
of every 100 Americans autopsied have died of a ruptured aneurysm, an additional
40 Percent have aneurysms that had not yet ruptured.
The average well-nourished adult human body contains
between 80 and 120 mg of copper. Concentrations are higher in the brain, liver,
heart and kidneys. Bone and muscle have lower percentages of copper but contain
50 percent of the body total copper reserves because of their mass. It is of
interest that the greatest concentration of copper is found in the newborn and
their daily requirement is 0.08 mg/kg, toddlers require 0.04 mg/kg and adults
only 0.03 mg/ kg.
The average plasma copper for women ranges from
87 to 153 mg/dl and for men it ranges from 89 to 137 mg/dl; about 90 percent
of the plasma copper is found in ceruloplasmin.
Copper functions as a co-factor and activator of
numerous cupro-enzymes that are involved in the development (deficiency of Cu
in the pregnant female results in congenital defects of the heart, i.e.-Kawasaki
Disease and brain - i.e.- cerebral palsy and hypoplasia of the cerebellum) and
maintenance of the cardiovascular system (deficiency results in reduced lysyl
oxidase activity causing a reduction in conversion of pro elastin to elastin
causing a decrease in tinsel strength of arterial walls and rup tured aneurysms
and skeletal integrity (deficiency results in a specific type of arthritis of
the young in the form of spurs in the bones growth plate); deficiency can result
in myelin defects; deficiency results in anemia; and poor hair keratinization
and loss of hair color.
Neutropenia (reduced numbers of neutophillic WBC)
and leukopenia (reduced total WBC) are the earliest indicators of copper deficiency
in infants; infants whose diets are primarily cows milk frequently develop anemia;
iron storage disease can result from chronic copper deficiency.
Menkes' Kinky Hair Syndrome is thought to be a sex-linked recessive defect
of copper absorption. The affected infants exhibit retarded growth, defective
keratin formation and loss of hair pigment, low body temperature, degeneration
and fracture of aortic elastin (aneurysms), arthritis in the growth plate of
long bones, and a progressive mental deterioration (brain tissue is totally
free of the essential enzyme cytochrome c oxidase). Because of absorption problems
of metallic copper, injections of copper are useful.
Serum and plasma copper increase 100 % in pregnant women and women using
oral contraceptives. Serum copper levels are also elevated during acute infections,
liver disease and pellegra (niacin deficiency).
Accumulations of copper in the cornea form Kayser-Fleischer rings.
Fe - Iron is found in igneous rocks at 56,300 ppm; shale at 47,200 ppm; sandstone
at 9,800 ppm and limestone at 3,800 ppm; fresh water at 0.67 ppm; sea water
at 0.01 ppm; soils at 38,000 ppm (iron content is responsible for most soil
color); iron is most available in acid soil and availability is greatly determined
by bacterial activity in the soil; marine plants at 700 ppm(very high in plankton);
land plants at 140 ppm; marine animals at 400 ppm (high in the blood of annelids
(worms), echinoderms, fish and in eggs of cephalad mollusks); essential to all
Boussingault in the 1860's was the first to regard iron as an essential nutrient
for animals. During the 1920's an animal model for iron deficiency research
was created by feeding rats on an exclusive milk diet.
In a healthy adult human there is 3 to 5 gms of iron. The newborn infant
has nearly double the amount of iron per kg than adults. Sixty to 70 percent
of tissue iron is classed as essential or functional iron, and 30 to 40 Percent
as storage iron. The essential iron is found as an integral part of hemoglobin,
myogobin (muscle oxygen storing pigments - particularly rich in deep diving
animals such as whales, walrus, seals, etc.) and respiratory enzymes involved
with intracellular oxidation-reduction processes.
Functions of iron include cofactor and activator of enzymes and metallo enzymes;
respiratory pigments (hemoglobin - iron is to hemoglobin what Mg is to chlorophyll)and
electron transfer for utilization of oxygen.
Iron is stored in bone marrow and liver (i.e.- hemosiderin and ferritin).
Heme iron from meat is 10 percent available for absorption while iron from fresh
plant sources are only one percent available because of phytates. Absorption
takes place primarily in the duodenum where the intestinal environment is still
Experimental evidence shows very clearly that "pica" is a specific sign
of iron deficiency. Pica can drive children and adults to eat ice (pagophagia),
dirt (geophagia) or lead paint.
Iron deficiency results from pregnancy, menstruation, chronic infections,
hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid from salt restricted diets), chronic diarrhea,
chronic bleeding (i.e.- cancer, ulcers, parasites, etc.) and impaired absorption
(i.e. high fat diets, celiac disease, etc.).
Symptoms of iron deficiency include listlessness, fatigue, heart palpitations
on exertion, reduced cognition, memory deficits, sore tongue, angular stomatitis,
dysphagia, hypochromic microcytic anemia.
Stomach hydrochloric acid is required for optimal absorption of iron, ascorbic
acid increases absorption of iron, clays and phytates decrease absorption of
iron, The RDA of 18 mg per day as metallic iron is very low if one is a vegan
eating high fiber, high phytate plant material.
Iron can cause cirrhosis of the liver, fibrosis of the pancreas, diabetes
and heart failure - these diseases are not direct affects of iron per se, but
rather the increased iron causes increased needs for selenium, copper, zinc,
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