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Copper is the third most common mineral found in the body, helping protect the skeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Copper is also essential for the development and maintenance of skin and hair. Copper plays a key role in the production of hemoglobin, and works together with iron in the formation of red blood cells.

Food sources
Copper is found in a wide range of foods but some of the best sources include green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Fish and nuts are also good sources of copper.

Daily requirement
There are currently no UK or European Commission set daily recommendation for the mineral copper. In the United States, the recommended daily intake of copper for an adult is 0.9 to 1.2 mg daily.

A deficiency in copper would be very rare in the developed world. This is partly because the body is able to store this mineral for later use. Most cases involve severely malnourished children, such as those all to common in some parts of Africa.

However, a new group of individuals at risk from copper deficiency are those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. In these cases, copper supplements may be required.

For those few individuals who do develop copper deficiency, the consequences can be serious. Anemia would be the most likely symptom to develop. But if left untreated, this can eventually lead to lung damage and excessive bleeding.

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