The human body contains only 70 to 80 mg of copper in total, but it's an essential part of many important enzymes. Copper's possible role in treating disease is based on the fact that these enzymes can't do their jobs without it. However, there is little direct evidence that taking extra copper can treat any disease.



The official U.S. recommendations for daily intake of copper are as follows:

  • Infants 0–6 months, 200 mcg
    7–12 months, 220 mcg
  • Children 1–3 years, 340 mcg
    4–8 years, 440 mcg
  • Males and females 9–13 years, 700 mcg
    14–18 years, 890 mcg
    19 years and older, 900 mcg
  • Pregnant women, 1,000 mcg
  • Nursing women, 1,300 mcg

High zinc]]> intake reduces copper stores in the body; ]]>1,2]]> for this reason, if you are taking zinc in doses above nutritional levels (as, for example, in the treatment of ]]>macular degeneration]]> ), you will need extra copper.

In addition, if you are taking ]]>iron]]> or large doses of ]]>vitamin C]]> , you may need extra copper. ]]>3–7]]> Ideally, you should take copper at least 2 hours apart from these two nutrients, so that they don't interfere with each other's absorption.

Oysters, nuts, legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and dark greens are good sources of copper. Drinking water that passes through copper plumbing is a good source of this mineral, and sometimes it may even provide too much.


Therapeutic Dosages

For the various therapeutic uses described in the next section, copper is often recommended at a high (but still safe) dose of 1 to 3 mg (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) daily.

Therapeutic Uses

Copper has been proposed as a treatment for osteoporosis]]> , based primarily on studies that found benefit using combinations of various trace minerals including copper. ]]>8,9]]>  However, one study found that copper supplements taken alone may not be helpful. ]]>11]]>

One researcher, L. M. Klevay, has claimed in more than a dozen papers that copper deficiencies increase the risk of high ]]>cholesterol]]> and ]]>heart disease]]> , but he has failed to supply any real evidence that this idea is true. A small ]]>double-blind, placebo-controlled]]> study of copper supplements for reducing heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol profile found no benefit. ]]>10]]>

Copper has long been mentioned as a possible treatment for ]]>osteoarthritis]]> and ]]>rheumatoid arthritis]]> , but there is as yet no real evidence that it works.


Safety Issues

The following daily doses of copper should not be exceeded:

  • Children 1 to 3 years, 1,000 mcg
    4 to 8 years, 3,000 mcg
    9 to 13 years, 5,000 mcg
  • Males and females 14 to 18 years, 8,000 mcg
    19 years and older, 10,000 mcg
  • Pregnant or nursing women, 10,000 mcg (8,000 mcg if 18 years old or younger)

Maximum safe dosages of copper for individuals with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking

  • Zinc]]> : You need to make sure to get enough copper.
  • ]]>Iron]]> supplements or high doses of ]]>vitamin C]]> : You may need extra copper. If you do take a copper supplement, it might be ideal to take it either 2 hours before or after these other substances.