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Fighting bacteria with copper

Along with the main elements of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, magnesium and sulphur, organic organisms also require trace amounts of certain other elements, including some metals. The most useful thing about the metals required by the body is that their outer electron orbitals are very close together, making it easy for them to both accept and loose a few electrons here and there. By holding and releasing electrons they can take place in redox reactions, which are used to produce energy for the cell.

Copper can cycle between two different ionic forms: Cu+ and Cu2+. Its most important use is as an electron carrier for the process of creating the energy-rich molecule ATP. Although it is vital to the cell in small amounts, in large quantities it can become toxic. By ‘large quantities’ we are talking about greater than one atom per cell, so anyone suggesting that consuming or being close to large quantities of copper is beneficial for your health is probably wrong.

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