Copper has been known to be essential for health for more than three quarters of a century. Myriad experiments with animals reveal that the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and nervous systems are most sensitive to deficiency. Copper in the Western diet has been decreasing at least since the 1930s; half of the adult population consumes less than the amount recommended in the European Communities and the United Kingdom. At least one fourth of adults consume less than the estimated average requirement published for the United States and Canada. Hundreds of people have been reported in journals about medicine and neurology rather than nutrition to have impaired copper nutriture based on the criteria of low copper concentrations and low activities of enzymes dependent on copper in various fluids and tissues. In contrast, only 46 people have participated in depletion/repletion experiments needed to define requirements. Almost 1000 people have benefited from supplements containing copper in controlled trials. People deficient in copper are being identified increasingly; it is unknown if unusually high requirements or unusually low diets are causal. Alzheimer's disease, ischemic heart disease and osteoporosis are the most likely human illnesses from low copper intakes.
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