In Greek mythology, copper is the metal of Venus and the Goddess of Love. (Even marginal copper deficiency can be dangerous and have long term consequences). First of all, copper levels may be lower in people who routinely consume too much zinc (this is due to zinc interfering with copper absorption). Most people are aware of the importance of zinc. Of course, commercial food manufacturers use this knowledge to increase sales—almost all processed food products in the United States are generously fortified with zinc and iron. In addition, all vitamin/ mineral complexes contain zinc and iron. As a result, people who consume large amounts of processed foods and regularly take vitamin/mineral supplements may actually get too much iron and zinc, thereby putting themselves at risk of copper deficiency. . The richest sources of copper are red wine, chocolate, cocoa, legumes, nuts (especially Brazilian nuts), seaweed, oysters and other shellfish, fish, liver and organ meats, well water in certain regions (depending on copper content in soil) or soft, acidic water that has passed through copper pipes. The popularity of bariatric surgery as a fast means to eliminate obesity also puts many people at risk of copper deficiency, since it lowers copper absorption in the intestine (Ernst et al 2009).
The main sign of severe copper deficiency in animals and humans is anemia that is unresponsive to iron therapy and is accompanied by severe abnormalities in bone marrow. Other symptoms include low white cell count in blood, increased incidence of infections, impaired growth and low weight in infants, bone abnormalities (fractures of long bones and ribs, osteoporosis, spur formation, formation of bone tissue outside of bones), impaired collagen synthesis, impaired melanin synthesis, hypotonia, and heart problems (including heart failure) (Elsherif et al 2003, Cartwright & Wintrobe 1964). These symptoms coincide with low levels of copper in plasma and are reversed by copper supplementation