What is copper?
Copper (Cu) is an essential trace element in both humans and animals. The human body only contains approximately 100 mg of Cu, so it is required in small quantities. As a transition metal, it is a cofactor in many enzymatic reactions and in addition to its role in iron metabolism, it is also involved in many other biological processes, including antioxidant defence, neuropeptide synthesis and the immune function.
Functions of copper against greying hair
Our body needs minerals to perform various vital functions, such as bone formation and hormone production. A varied, balanced diet is the best way to obtain these nutrients.
Copper is a vital component of melanin, the natural dark pigment that gives the skin, hair and eyes their colour. Melanin can only be produced by melanocytes in the presence of the enzyme tyrosinase, and it is precisely copper that catalyses this enzymatic reaction. Taking supplements that contain this mineral is therefore a very effective way of helping protect against greying hair.
As it plays a role in the formation of melanin, the pigment that gives the hair its colour, it has been shown on several occasions how copper levels affect the premature appearance of grey hairs. A piece of research published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research in 2012, showed the link between a deficiency of this mineral and greying hair.
How to maintain adequate levels of copper to delay greying hair
After numerous studies, it is now known that copper increases the levels of melanin and collagen in the body, both essential substances for stimulating the production of this dark pigment whose function is to delay the appearance of grey hairs.
Copper is found in various foods such as meat, seafood, pulses and certain nuts and seeds. A diet that includes foods rich in this mineral helps to increase the levels of melanin and collagen in the body and thus slow down the appearance of grey hairs. However, it is not always easy to maintain a balanced intake of such foods, so it is highly recommendable to take nutritional supplements to compensate for a deficiency of this important metal.