Copper is a mineral that the body requires in small amounts and concentrates stores in the bones, certain organs and muscles. The amount of copper in the blood is regulated by the liver.

Copper is an essential component of many enzymes, involved in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, free radical elimination, development and repair of bone, connective tissue, skin and the production of melanin, a pigment that gives colour to skin and hair.

Copper is widely available in foods and copper deficiency is not very common.  It sometimes occurs in people who are malnourished, consume too much supplemental zinc, have intestinal bypass surgery, or are fed by feeding tubes.  In some instances, copper is also used for to promote wound healing, and for treating osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Copper toxicity is also uncommon but may be increasing in prevalence due to greater use of copper pipes.  The main symptoms of copper toxicity are abdominal pain/cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and liver damage.

Healthy adults need about 10,000 micrograms (mcg) of copper each day.  Children and teens require less, in amounts ranging from 200 to 8,000 mcg depending on age.

Copper is known to react with the following substances:

  • Penicillamine
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

If you have been advised by your health professional to take zinc, ask if you should also take copper.  Always take copper supplements under the supervision of an MD, ND or pharmacist.

Copper is a mineral that is found in many foods, such as organ meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, grains, and cocoa products.