Copper Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Did You Know…that trace amounts of copper may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease?

Copper is an essential nutrient that your body needs for bone growth, nerve conduction, hormone secretion, and more.  However, excessive copper levels can be extremely toxic, and have even been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

One recent study showed that even trace amounts of copper in drinking water (levels that are only 1/10 of the those set by the US Environmental Protection Agency) may increase Alzheimer’s risk. 

Your Brain on Copper 

In the study mentioned above, mice that were exposed to trace amounts of copper in their drinking water eventually accumulated copper in their circulatory systems and blood vessels.

That copper then impeded the proper functioning of a protein known as lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1, or LRP1.  LRP1 may sound complicated, but its job is simple:  it helps clears amyloid beta from the brain.  Amyloid beta is a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s.

Copper may also compromise the blood-brain barrier, making the brain vulnerable to other kinds of contaminants.  Finally, copper also increased inflammation of brain tissue.  Inflammation could lead to further breakdown of the blood brain barrier… followed by even more accumulation of Alzheimer’s-related toxins.

Remember, this study used only trace levels of copper.  Many people could be exposed to more copper than they realize.

The Hidden Danger of Copper Pipes 

As many as 98% of homes built after 1970 have copper pipes.  Unfortunately,  water with pH below 6.5 can corrode copper.  This corrosion can allow high levels of copper to leach into your drinking water.  In addition, it can cause pinhole leaks that let other contaminants into the pipe—and into your water.

Worst of all, the copper in drinking water is inorganic and therefore processed very differently by your body than the copper in food.  This makes it far more toxic.

Protect Yourself From Copper Exposure

Experts advise several steps for protecting yourself from excess copper:

 Water Filter:  Install a water filter system capable of removing heavy metals

 Cookware:  Replace copper cookware with ceramic

 Supplement Caution:  Avoid nutritional supplements that contain copper.  Unless you are under the supervision of a physician, experts advise not exceeding 50 – 100 micrograms of copper per day.  Plus, many supplements use an inorganic copper similar that from corroding copper pipes, or they even use copper sulfate, (commonly used as a pesticide!)

 Zinc:  Consider supplementing with zinc.  Zinc is a “copper antagonist,” and can therefore help reduce copper toxicity while removing excess copper from your body naturally.  This helps you maintain a proper zinc-copper balance.  Zinc deficiency is common—an estimated 45% of adults over age 60 have lower than recommended zinc intakes.  Unfortunately, zinc deficiency can lead to or worsen copper toxicity—and thereby increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.  The U.S. RDA for zinc is about 11 mg per day for adult men and 8 mg for women.  If you are lactating or pregnant, you need about 3 mg more.  Experts recommend always talk to your health care provider about any supplements you are taking or plan to take.