Copper absorption, excretion, and retention by young men consuming low dietary copper determined by using the stable isotope 65Cu


Turnlund JR, Keyes WR, Peiffer GL, Scott KC




Am J Clin Nutr


A study was conducted in young men to evaluate the effect of a low-copper diet on copper absorption, excretion, and retention. Eleven young men were confined to a metabolic research unit for 90 d. The study was divided into three periods, with dietary copper as the only variable. Dietary copper intake was 0.66 mg/d for 24 d, 0.38 mg/d for 42 d, and 2.49 mg/d for 24 d. The stable isotope 65Cu was fed to five of the subjects once during the first and last dietary period and twice, early and late, in the second period to determine copper absorption. 65Cu was infused into an arm vein of the other six subjects once during each dietary period to estimate excretion of endogenous copper. Total copper and 65Cu were determined by isotope dilution with thermal-ionization mass spectrometry. Fractional absorption was significantly higher during the low-copper period than in either period with higher dietary copper and excretion of the infused isotope was significantly lower in the low-copper period. Subjects were in negative balance early in the first two periods but achieved balance by the end of those periods. They retained copper during the highest dietary copper period (third period). The results suggest that endogenous copper excretion is a major point of regulation of the body's copper stores. Regulation of absorption and of endogenous excretion in response to dietary copper intake helps to protect against deficiency and toxicity. However, this regulation was not sufficient to maintain copper status at the lowest intake of dietary copper, 0.38 mg/d.