Chemical Symbol



Copper is another trace mineral that plays an important role in many enzymes found in the body as well as in the production of energy in the cells.


Connective tissue: Copper works with an enzyme called lysyl oxidase to help with the production of connective tissue proteins, collagen and elastin. This makes copper important for the maintenance and production of bones, blood vessels, joints and our skin.

Iron metabolism and blood: Copper assists iron in being released from its storage sites as well as assists in the formation of bone marrow and the maturation of red blood cells. Copper can also be used to help treat those with anemia.

Brain and nervous system: Copper helps to maintain the insulating sheath that surrounds nerve cells called myelin, by assisting in the synthesis of cell membrane phospholipids. This mineral helps to regulate the levels of various neurotransmitters in the body.

Antioxidant: Copper is part of the coenzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase where it is used for protection against free radical damage like sunlight, pollution or cigarette smoke.

Immune system: Supplementation of copper can help support our immune system and prevent infections. During an inflammation two different copper containing compounds become mobilized in our bodies to help reduce the swelling. T cells use copper to help with their functioning and maturation.

Cardiovascular system: Copper is an essential component of the hearts ability to contract. It is used for the functioning of muscles and blood vessels and their lining. Supplementation can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other functions of Copper: Melanin, the coloring pigment found in our skin and hair, formation requires a copper – based enzyme. Copper contributes to the synthesis of compounds that help to regulate functions such as, heartbeat, blood pressure and wound healing. Copper can also be used to help treat osteoarthritis and prevent or treat cancer.


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Recommended Intake

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine suggests the following:


  • Up to 6 months: 200 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
  • 7 to 12 months: 220 mcg/day


  • 1 to 3 years old: 340 mcg/day
  • 4 to 8 years old: 440 mcg/day
  • 9 to 13 years old: 700 mcg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • 14 to 18 years old: 890 mcg/day
  • 19 years old and older: 900 mcg/day


If infants have a copper deficiency it can lead to pale skin, anemia, diarrhea, lack of pigments in their hair or skin and prominent dilated veins. In adults a deficiency can cause anemia, water retention, weakness of blood vessel walls, brittle bones, loss of color and texture in hair and loss of taste. Menkes’ syndrome is a rare disorder found in children where they are unable to absorb copper, making them at risk for deficiencies.

Sources in the Diet

Good sources of copper come from shellfish like oysters and crab, olives, nuts like peanuts, walnuts and sunflower seeds, whole grains, beans and milk chocolate or cocoa powder.

Recent Studies and Articles

Copper's importance to the body

Not enough copper in the body

Challenges Presented

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  8. [] – 6. Harris, E., Rayton, J., Balthrop, J., Di Silverstro, R., Garcia-de-Quevedo, M., Copper and the Synthesis of Elastin and Collagen. U.S National Library of Medicine.