Human Metabolome Database: Copper
Copper is a heavy metal trace element with the atomic symbol Cu. Copper metal has a distinct red/pink color. It has the atomic number 29 and an atomic weight of 62.9296 g/mol. Copper catalyzes the production of very reactive radical ions such as hydroxyl radical in a manner similar to Fenton chemistry. This catalytic activity of copper is used by the enzymes that it is associated with and is thus only toxic when unsequestered and unmediated. This increase in unmediated reactive radicals is generally termed oxidative stress and is an active area of research in a variety of diseases where copper may play an important but more subtle role than in acute toxicity.; It is believed that zinc and copper compete for absorption in the digestive tract so that a diet that is excessive in one of these minerals may result in a deficiency in the other. The RDA for copper in normal healthy adults is 0.9 mg/day.; Numerous alloys of copper exist, many with important historical and contemporary uses. Copper is an essential nutrient to all higher plants and animals. In animals, it is found primarily in the bloodstream, as a cofactor in various enzymes, and in copper-based pigments. In sufficient amounts, copper can be poisonous or even fatal to organisms.