Too Much Copper in Diets Brings about Cognitive Decline

Diets rich in copper and fats, especially trans fats, damage mental abilities and may cause severe degenerative mental disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

 
Copper is known as a nutritive and beneficial mineral for our health and body, along with Calcium, Iron, Potassium etc. But a new research highlighted the fact that too much Copper intake, associated with high in fat diets, especially in older people, may lead to the decline of mental abilities (thinking, learning, memory).

Usually associated with zinc and iron and crucial for brain development and cognitive function, high intake of copper may cause severe degenerative mental diseases, such as Alzheimer's or dementia. Moreover, associating high amounts of copper with foods that are high in fat, especially trans fats, is twice as dangerous for the cognitive function, as previous studies have linked trans fats intake with Alzheimer disease.

Natural sources of copper are: sea fruits, red wine, chocolate, nuts, beans, peas, mushrooms etc. In small amounts, copper is beneficial for our health, as it is an active agent that provides us with a beautiful hair, helps us diminish the joint affections (which are very frequent, especially in high performance athletes.) The therapeutic effects of copper also extend to skin disorders, cataract, sexually transmitted diseases or lungs problems.

Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center, Chicago conducted a study on 3,718 individuals aged 65 or older. The cognitive function was tested at the beginning of the study, after 3 years and after 6 years. All of them experienced a decline of mental abilities, but this was more pregnant in volunteers who had a diet rich both in trans fats and copper. The more copper they added to their diet - which was already overloaded with fats -, the higher the decline of their cognitive function was. On the other hand, participants who had a diet that was rich only in copper did not experience such a decline of mental abilities.

"The increase in rate for the high-fat consumers whose total copper intake was in the top 20 percent (greater than or equal to 1.6 milligrams per day) was equivalent to 19 more years of age," noted the scientists who carried out the study.

The recommended daily dose of copper for adults is 0.9 milligrams. Scientists advise adults to try to stick to this limit of copper intake and avoid consuming more copper per day. It is also very important not to associate high rates of copper intake with a high fat diet. However, further trials are needed: "This finding of accelerated cognitive decline among persons whose diets were high in copper and saturated and trans fats must be viewed with caution. The supporting evidence on this topic is limited. The strength of the association and the potential impact on public health warrant further investigation."

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By    15 Aug 2006, 07:40 GMT