Zinc and Copper

Zinc and copper play important roles in bone metabolism and bone health in part due to the roles they play as cofactors for various enzymes required for the synthesis or modification of bone matrix constituents. Zinc is a cofactor for a myriad of enzymes in the body, including alkaline phosphatase. Alkaline phosphatase is synthesized by osteoblasts and is essential for bone mineralization. Zinc also plays a role in the osteoblast via its involvement in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. Copper is a necessary cofactor for lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in collagen cross-linking. Both copper and zinc are found as components of superoxide dismutase, and they may protect bone from oxidative damage. Genetic defects that cause zinc deficiency (acroder-matitis enteropathica) or copper deficiency (Menkes' disease) result in growth retardation, stunting, and impaired bone growth.

Although more research on the roles of zinc and copper in bone health and fracture risk is clearly needed, the importance of these nutrients in skeletal health should be recognized and optimal intakes should be promoted in relation to skeletal homeostasis.

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