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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Iron Overload Can Induce Mild Copper Deficiency

Author
item Klevay, Leslie

Submitted to: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 9, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Rats were fed a diet high in iron with amounts of copper similar to that in the human diet in the U.S. The high iron increased blood cholesterol, decreased copper in liver and heart and caused heart enlargement which can be a sensitive sign of copper deficiency. Some of these effects were decreased if dietary copper was increased. These effects are more sensitive to copper deficiency than anemia which was not found. People with iron overload, who often have heart trouble, may benefit from copper supplementation in addition to other treatments because high iron increased the dietary copper requirement of these animals.

Technical Abstract: Dietary copper in the U.S. often is lower than that proved insufficient for men and women under controlled conditions. Iron overload can have adverse effects on copper nutriture and can produce cardiac disease in people. Rats were fed a diet high in iron and marginal, but not deficient, in copper. When dietary copper was 2.0 mg/kg of diet, high iron decreased (p<0.008) cardiac and hepatic copper, plasma copper and ceruloplasmin, and increased (p<0.02) cardiac weight, hepatic iron and plasma cholesterol. When dietary copper was increased to 2.5 mg/kg, copper in heart and plasma decreased (p<0.04) and hepatic iron increased (p=0.001) with high iron but other effects disappeared. No harmful changes in hematology, such as hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, etc. were found. Numerous other experiments reveal that cardiac enlargement caused by copper deficiency is a sign of anatomical and physiological harm. High iron increased the dietary copper requirement of the animals. People with iron overload may benefit from copper supplementation, particularly if they habitually consume a diet low in copper.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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