I have already mentioned in an earlier article that heavy metal poisoning can have a serious detrimental affect on both mental and physical health and how more and more research is driving this point home.
Following on from my last article about the pros and cons that zinc can play in both the prevention and causation of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, I would like to cover a few important points with regards to the role that copper plays in these conditions and the importance of getting the right therapeutic dose.
Various studies have shown that whilst copper is essential for brain development, too much copper in the bloodstream may actually block the body’s ability to rid itself of proteins that form the plaques found clogging the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and too little may increase the risk of mental decline.
But again these studies need to be viewed with caution.
It may be that there are already disease processes that are going on in the brain that makes the elimination of copper harder and therefore it builds up. This theory is highly possible as it is already believed that Alzheimer’s disease (like so many chronic illnesses that are now so common as the population ages are multifactorial i.e. consisting of many individual processes that combine to create a long-term degenerative process. Or it may be that there are other dietary factors involved that led to the build up. A study based on findings from rabbits fed a diet high in cholesterol (not their natural diet) and water that was laced with copper and therefore it makes extrapolating the results to a human population harder. Also, although there are traces of copper found in tap water (another reason to drink mineral water!) the number of plaques formed by the rabbits was much rarer in those drinking the copper laced liquid alone.
Another study which was based on humans (to spare the mice, rabbits and gerbils for a change!) showed that there was a direct correlation between higher levels of blood copper and greater cognition, thinking and recall. Patients with higher blood copper levels make fewer mistakes in memory tests leading the researchers to remark that an increased uptake of dietary copper may be therapeutically relevant in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of the uncertainty in the role copper plays in both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia I would recommend limiting the daily dosage that you consider to no more than 3mg a day.