Thursday, August 15, 2013

Too Much Copper May Increase Risk For Alzheimer's Disease

There does seem to be a link between copper, the metal in vitamin pills and copper pipes (and water that flows through them) and many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease (AD).

Here are some studies I'm looking at:

Copper And Ceruloplasmin Abnormalities In Alzheimer’s Disease, American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, 2010
"The idea that copper may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease is gaining momentum.

Increased exposure to environmental copper (eg, the spread of copper plumbing and the use of copper in supplements) and/or defective ceruloplasmin function may play a role in the current epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease."
Longitudinal Prognostic Value Of Serum “Free” Copper In Patients With Alzheimer Disease, Neurology, 2009
"Free copper predicted the annual change in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). ... When the annual change in MMSE was divided into <3 or ≥3 points, free copper was the only predictor of a more severe decline.

Hyperlipidemic patients with higher levels of free copper seemed more prone to worse cognitive impairment."
Trace Copper Levels In The Drinking Water, But Not Zinc Or Aluminum Influence CNS Alzheimer-Like Pathology, The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 2006
"Mounting evidence suggests copper may influence the progression of Alzheimer's disease by reducing clearance of the amyloid beta protein (Abeta) from the brain. Previous experiments show that addition of only 0.12 PPM copper (one-tenth the Environmental Protection Agency Human consumption limits) to distilled water was sufficient to precipitate the accumulation of Abeta in the brains of cholesterol-fed rabbits. ... In contrast to the effects of copper, we found that aluminum- or zinc-ion-supplemented distilled water did not have a significant effect on brain Ab accumulation in cholesterol-fed rabbits. We also report that administration of distilled water produced a reduction in the expected accumulation of Ab in three separate animal models. Collectively, these data suggest that water quality may have a significant influence on disease progression and Ab neuropathology in AD."
Trace Amounts Of Copper In Water Induce Beta-Amyloid Plaques And Learning Deficits In A Rabbit Model Of Alzheimer’s Disease, PNAS 2003
"Despite the crucial role played by cholesterol and copper in nutrition and normal brain function, recent evidence indicates that they may both be important factors in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here we provide critical evidence for the role of cholesterol and copper in AD by showing that the addition of trace amounts of copper (0.12 ppm) to water given to cholesterol-fed rabbits can induce beta-amyloid (Ab) accumulation, including senile plaque-like structures in the hippocampus and temporal lobe, and can significantly retard the ability of rabbits to learn a difficult trace conditioning task. ... Trace amounts of copper in drinking water may influence clearance of Ab from the brain at the level of the interface between the blood and cerebrovasculature and combined with high cholesterol may be a key component to the accumulation of Ab in the brain, having a significant impact on learning and memory. Cholesterol-fed rabbits have at least 12 pathological markers seen in AD, suggesting that the cholesterol fed rabbit is a good animal model for studying AD."
Links Between Copper And Cholesterol In Alzheimer's Disease, Frontiers In Physiology, May 2013
"Amongst the various risk factors for AD, corrupted copper and cholesterol homeostasis have attracted considerable attention independently over the last two decades as potential therapeutic targets. ... Mounting evidence indicates a connection between copper and cholesterol pathways in the pathogenesis of AD."

Note the term "free copper" up there in the 2nd study. There is a difference between the copper we get from food and the copper in vitamin pills. In his review article, The Risks of Copper Toxicity Contributing to Cognitive Decline in the Aging Population and to Alzheimer’s Disease, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2009, Dr. Brewer said:
"Copper in food is bound to organic molecules that are taken up by the liver, and the copper is processed and safely bound to molecules such as copper chaperones. ... Much inorganic copper [the kind in pills] that is ingested bypasses the liver and contributes immediately to the free copper pool in the blood."
It is "free copper," from pills and copper pipes, which is linked to neurodegeneration. Levels of food-based vitamins tend to be better controlled, and so less problematic at high intakes, than single, isolated, free vitamins in pills.

The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in their report Metals Of Concern In Common Multivitamins, have recommended that supplement manufacturers reformulate multivitamins to remove copper (and iron) because of their possible contribution to development of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.
"Because most people already obtain these metals from everyday foods, the added amounts in multivitamins increase the risk of overdose. ... At even modestly elevated levels, iron and copper have been associated with impaired cognition, and both end up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease."
PCRM created this chart of copper (and iron) amounts in common multivitamins:

Every few weeks it seems there emerges some new bit of information which supports the argument against taking vitamins and supplements.

Update, 20 August 2013: Another study finds copper linked to Alzheimers.


Bix said...

Note how little copper in water, 0.12 parts per million (ppm), led to plaques in the brains of rabbits. The EPA limit is 1.3 ppm!

Even if we don't get enough copper in food, the copper from pipes could be moving us into overdose range ... let alone what we're getting in vitamin pills.

Bix said...

So, why do vitamin makers continue to include copper in their formulations? Dr. Brewer in his review said:

"The reason for including any copper at all in these supplements is not based upon data, because copper deficiency is extremely rare. It is probably based upon some concept of ‘‘completeness’’ in terms of including all essential vitamins and minerals."

That and it probably doesn't cost them much.

RB said...

Most multivitamin supplements are made from synthetic isolate. There is some doubt to efficacy of the synthetic vitamins and some concern synthetic vitamins can do harm. The unnecessary copper in multivitamins may be one of their harmful attributes. Getting vitamins from plant sources (fruits, vegetable, nuts, whole grains, legumes (a.k.a))is the best and safest way to take them. The human body has evolved to get its vitamins and nutrients from food, not pills.