Copper is a naturally occurring free metal. The body uses this metal for a variety of actions and regulates proper amounts. Too much copper taxes the kidneys and liver and can be detrimental. The right amount is essential. A certain blue-green algae called spirulina has been found to reduce copper toxicity and improve blood and growth in fish. This modulating action, as seen in this fish study, effectively eliminates excess copper obtained through overloaded water, soil and air. This study could translate to helping people with toxic amounts of copper in their body.
The right amount of copper is essential
Copper is an essential nutrient that must be regulated in the body. It plays an important role in hemoglobin formation, drug metabolism, catecholamine biosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. It’s also involved in cross-linking collagen, hair keratin and elastin. Some enzymes are copper-dependent and function to reduce activated oxygen species and molecular oxygen.
In the US, copper deficiency is rare. Copper toxicity, on the other hand, is a growing concern.
Too much copper is dangerous
People typically do not ingest more than the estimated daily intake of copper, which is between 1.0 and 1.3 mg per day, but under certain circumstances, the metal could build up in the body if the cells are not functioning properly. Acute exposure to the metal could strike in certain environments. If people are exposed to extra copper through inhalation, or from overloaded water or soil, toxicity may surface. Those who work in or near copper smelters may be inhaling excess amounts of copper, which overburdens the body. Copper can dust off from pipes into water. The EPA has identified unsafe levels of copper in soil samples from at least 906 of 1647 cleanup sites.
Copper, readily absorbed from one’s stomach and small intestine, can overload the gastrointestinal tract and cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. This is reported after a person drinks an overload of copper sulfate from beverages stored in copper containers or from water that sat in a copper pipe overnight.
Taxes the liver and kidneys
Lethal doses of copper sulfate can affect the liver and kidneys in drastic ways. Studies involving rats show that excessive copper exposure alters serum markers of liver damage, heightening necrosis and inflammation in their bodies. These lethal doses are equivalent to 100 times the daily recommended copper intake.
How spirulina regulates copper toxicity
A study was conducted in India at the P.G. and Research Department of Zoology of V.O. Chidambaram College, examining the effects that dietary spirulina have on reducing toxic amounts of copper in carp.
The researchers studied copper reduction based on food utilization of spirulina, phosphatases activities and selected haematological (blood) parameters.
The fish species in the study, C. mrigala, contained toxic amounts of copper concentrations in body tissue. The researchers set out to also study copper amounts in the fish’s fecal matter as spirulina was administered.
The researchers added spirulina to the fish’s diet, and they watched as 6% increases of dietary spirulina began showing positive results.
The fish, which were overloaded with the metal, began expelling it from their bodies through their waste. Copper measurements in fecal matter increased from the start.
Furthermore, large dietary amounts of the blue-green algae reduced haematological parameters, lowering chances of blood disease, and liver and kidney toxicity.
The most effective dose of spirulina was a 6% addition to the fish’s diet. This amount maximized the elimination of copper without completely depleting the body of it. It improved the fish’s growth, healthy blood levels and phosphatases activities.
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