Copper is a trace mineral that is essential for human health. It works with enzymes, which are proteins that aid in the biochemical reactions of every cell. Copper assists these enzymes in many crucial reactions in the body.
Copper’s functions include:
Assisting in energy production
Protecting cells from free radical damage
Helping lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that strengthens connective tissue
Assisting the brain neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, and dopamine
Helping your body make hemoglobin, which is needed to carry oxygen to red blood cells
Keeping the immune system, bones, blood vessels, and nerves healthy
Many studies show that Americans consume less than adequate amounts of dietary copper. However, copper deficiency in adults is rare. A deficiency may occur, though, due to certain genetic problems, long-term shortages of dietary copper, or excessive intakes of zinc, iron, or antacids. In addition, the following conditions may increase your need for copper:
Symptoms of copper deficiency include
, a decrease in certain white blood cells, loss of hair color, and pale skin. A lifetime of marginal dietary copper could possibly lead to heart disease.
infants and infants suffering from malnutrition may have deficiencies of copper.
If you are unable to meet your copper needs through dietary sources, copper supplements may be necessary. Copper supplements are usually taken by mouth, but in some cases are given by injection. Your doctor should determine if you need such supplementation.
Cases of toxicity from copper are rare.
Excess copper intake may lead to liver damage. Doses of 10 mg/day may lead to weakness and nausea. Symptoms of copper toxicity may include:
Foods high in copper include organ meats (liver, heart, kidney, brain), seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran, cereals, whole grain products, and cocoa products. Although these foods are rich in copper, the amount of copper you absorb may be influenced by other dietary components. For example, excessive dietary intakes of iron or zinc may decrease copper absorption. Vitamin C supplementation has also been found to decrease copper absorption.
1 tablespoon (28 g)
0.2 to 0.5 mg
1.0 to 3.7 mg
Turkey—dark meat, cooked
0.1 to 0.2 mg
Whole wheat bread
0.1 to 0.2 mg
If you have a medical condition that impairs your body’s ability to absorb, use, and excrete copper, your doctor may recommend reducing your dietary intake of copper. Such conditions may include:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a