Copper is essential in all higher plants and animals. Copper is carried mostly in the bloodstream on a plasma protein called ceruloplasmin. When copper is first absorbed in the gut it is transported to the liver bound to albumin.
Copper is an abundant trace mineral in the body that helps protect the cardiovascular, skeletal and nervous system. It is needed to make an enzyme that keeps your arteries from hardening, rupturing and for the production of phospholipids, which help form the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. The body also has to have copper to produce the powerful antioxidant, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).
Copper is found in a variety of enzymes, including the copper centers of cytochrome c oxidase and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (containing copper and zinc). In addition to its enzymatic roles, copper is used for biological electron transport.
All copper compounds, unless otherwise known, should be treated as if they were toxic. Thirty grams of copper sulfate is potentially lethal in humans.
Copper is a trace mineral, and hardly anyone today is ever deficient in copper. Numerous foods contain copper, although the particularly rich sources such as liver and oysters are not commonly consumed. Legumes, other shellfish, nuts, potatoes, carrots, turnips, papaya, apple, molasses, and corn oil also contain significant amounts of copper. Copper is also sometimes found in drinking water and can be absorbed in the body by cooking with copper pans or utensils or from drinking water or cooking with water from copper pipes.