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Home :: Copper

Copper - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

What is Copper?

Copper is an essential trace mineral. Copper is involved in the absorption and metabolism of iron. Copper helps keep your arteries flexible. It also helps form connective tissue, nerve fibers and red blood cells. Copper is necessary for proper absorption of iron in the body and it is found primarily in foods containing iron. Various enzyme reactions require copper as well. Copper is needed as a cross linking agent for elastin and collagen, as a catalyst for protein reactions and for oxygen transport. Copper, found in the bones, muscles, brain, heart, liver and kidneys, is an important trace mineral for the cardiovascular, nervous and skeletal systems.

Uses and Benefits of Copper

Among its many functions, copper aids in the formation of bone, hemoglobin, and red blood cells, and works in balance with zinc and vitamin C to form elastin, an important skin protein. It is involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring, and taste sensitivity. This mineral is also needed for healthy nerves and joints.

Recommended Dosage of Copper

The Recommended Daily Allowance for Copper are :

  • Adults - 1.5 to 3.0 milligrams per day.
  • Children - 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams per day.
  • Infants less than six month - 0.4 to 0.6 milligrams per day.

Deficiency Symptoms of Copper

One of the early signs of copper deficiency is osteoporosis. Copper is essential for the formation of collagen, one of the fundamental proteins making up bones, skin, and connective tissue. Other possible signs of copper deficiency include anemia, baldness, diarrhea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, and skin sores. A lack of copper can also lead to increased blood fat levels

Rich Food Sources of Copper

Besides its use in cookware and plumbing, copper is also widely distributed in foods. Food sources include almonds, avocados, barley, beans, beets, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, garlic, lentils, liver, mushrooms, nuts, oats, oranges, pecans, radishes, raisins, salmon, seafood, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables.

Some more information on Copper

The level of copper in the body is related to the levels of zinc and vitamin C. Copper levels are reduced if large amounts of zinc or vitamin C are consumed. If copper intake is too high, levels of vitamin C and zinc drop.

The consumption of high amounts of fructose (fruit sugar) can make a copper deficiency significantly worse. In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people who obtained 20 percent of their daily calories from fructose showed decreased levels of red blood cell super­oxide dismutase (SOD), a copper-dependent enzyme critical to antioxidant protection within the red blood cells.


Excessive copper in the body can promote destruction of eye tissue through oxidation. Persons with eye problems should be especially careful to balance their intake of cop­per with that of iron, zinc, and calcium. Excessive intake of copper can lead to toxicity, which has been associated with depression, irritability, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, and joint and muscle pain. Ingesting a quantity as small as 10 milligrams usually causes nausea. Sixty milligrams generally results in vomiting, and just 3.5 grams (3,500 milligrams) can be fatal. Children can be affected at much smaller dosage levels.

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