Calcium has capacity to reduce copper toxicity, study shows

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: calcium, copper toxicity, mineral deficiency

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(NaturalNews) It is hardly a secret that millions of people living in the developed world are overworked, perpetually stressed and addicted to junk food, all factors which can impair adrenal function, toxify the liver and lead to other serious health problems associated with a condition known as copper toxicity. But one potential remedy for this heavy metal buildup, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, is to supplement with the mineral calcium.

Researchers from Huazhong Agricultural University in China discovered this after observing the effects of yellow catfish exposed to waterborne sources of both copper (Cu) and calcium (Ca). Their initial hypothesis was that Ca might offer protective benefits against Cu-induced toxicity in the selected fish species, known as Pelteobagrus fulvidraco, specifically by altering certain enzymatic functions.

To test this hypothesis, the research team exposed yellow catfish to 0, 1, and 2 milligrams (mg) of Cu per liter (Cu/l), in combination with 0 and 50 mg of Ca/l. As predicted, exposure to these substances at these varying levels of both Cu and Ca demonstrably affected certain enzymatic activities in the fish, including succinate dehydrogenase, malic dehydrogenase, lactate dehydrogenase, lipoprotein lipase and hepatic lipase.

But specifically with regards to Cu toxicity, the introduction of Ca at escalating levels was observed to directly affect Cu levels in the vital organs of the fish, including in their gills, livers, kidneys, intestines and muscle tissues. Damage to these vital organs still occurred as a result of Cu toxicity, but this damage was noticeably reduced with the addition of Ca, confirming the team's original hypothesis.

"For histological observations, at the same Ca level, waterborne Cu exposure induced injuries in gills and liver," reads the study abstract. "However, Ca addition seemed to mitigate the severity of Cu-induced injuries. Thus, our study demonstrated that Ca had the capacity to reduce Cu toxicity in P. fulvidraco."

Optimal organ, glandular health necessary for proper utilization of copper

One of the primary reasons why copper builds up in the body and creates toxicity in the first place is that the vital organs and glands are not functioning properly. Under optimal conditions, the body effectively metabolizes copper by binding it to the proteins ceruloplasmin and metallothionein, which use the mineral to regenerate cells and tissue. But when these other systems are out of balance, copper can quickly become a toxic heavy metal.

"The circulation and proper utilization of copper in the body requires good functioning of the liver, gall bladder and adrenal glands," explains one resource about copper toxicity. "If any of those organs are impaired, the body cannot properly excrete and utilize copper. Initially, the copper will build up in the liver, further impairing its ability to excrete copper. As copper retention increases, it will build up in the brain, the joints and the lungs, adversely affecting the structure and function of the tissues."

Other causes of toxic copper retention include a lack of zinc and manganese, two important mineral cofactors that aid in the proper absorption and use of copper. There is a very narrow range of efficacy when it comes to copper intake, it turns out, and this range is achieved and maintained only when the systems of the body are kept in check and when other mineral cofactors are present.

"The body has an intricate system of checks and balances which operate through the mineral levels and ratios," explains this same source. "If one mineral becomes deficient, another mineral will accumulate and may become excessive."

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