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Home > Supplement Categories > Minerals > Copper

Copper Health Supplements

Copper (Cu) is a trace mineral that is a key component to many essential bodily enzymes called cuproenzymes. This gives it an important role in several physiological functions, such as in the production of red blood cells and collagen. As an effective antioxidant, copper is necessary to keep the immune system healthy. It also helps in the production of energy in the body. Copper interacts with minerals and other substances inside the body. One notable example of this would be its ability to increase the body's absorption of iron.

Copper Food Sources

There is a wide selection of natural copper rich foods available in the market. First among these are seafood, most especially shellfish like oysters, squid, lobster, mussels, crab, and clams. Organ meats, especially beef livers, hearts, and kidneys, are more excellent copper foods. This mineral is also available in a variety of different nuts, such as cashews, macadamias, filberts, pistochios, almonds, and pecans, as well as in legumes like soybeans, peanuts, navy beans, and lentils.

Moderate amounts of copper can also be taken from bran flakes, raisin bran, shredded wheat, and other enriched cereals.

There are low amounts of copper in blackstrap molasses, black pepper, and chocolate. Fruits and vegetables, such as dried fruits, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, grapes, and avocados, also have trace amounts of this mineral.

What is Copper Used For?

There are quite a number of well-known benefits of copper. For one, it serves as fuel for cytochrome c oxidase, an enzyme that relies on copper to initiate the production of cellular energy. It also plays a part in the intertwining of collagen and elastin through the lysyl oxidase enzymes. This process is responsible for the formation of connective tissues that are strong yet flexible, especially in areas around the heart, blood vessels, and bones.

Iron metabolism throughout the body is also made possible through copper. Multi-copper oxidases, otherwise known as ferroxidases, can alter the chemical composition of iron to make it transportable and available for use during the formation of red blood cells. Additionally, copper catalyzes the bodily processes necessary for the maintenance of proper brain and nervous system functions.

Other health benefits and functions of copper include its role in the creation of melanin, which adds pigments to hair, skin, and eyes. It also restricts or amplifies the transcription of certain genes depending on its concentration, thereby altering protein synthesis and regulating the expression of genes.

Copper intake promotes general health and wellbeing because of the antioxidant properties of the element. It also helps in the prevention of certain diseases, including:

  • osteoporosis due to progressive decay of bone mineral density
  • cardiovascular disease due to abnormally high blood cholesterol levels
  • neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, due to reduced copper levels in the brain

It should be noted that copper is needed in very small amounts, making it quite uncommon for individuals to develop a deficit. Nonetheless, malnutrition, excessive zinc intake, and copper malabsorption may still lead to hypocupremia, or extremely low levels of copper. This condition may be either acquired or inherited.

The following may also increase the risk of developing deficiencies:

  • malnutrition
  • celiac disease
  • premature birth
  • prolonged diarrhea
  • short bowel syndrome
  • high zinc, iron, or vitamin C intake

Infants who are given only cow's milk to drink may also be at risk of deficiency. This is because milk from cows has a relatively low copper content that cannot supplement babies' dietary needs.

Copper deficiency symptoms include:

  • anemia
  • impaired growth
  • thyroid problems
  • skin discoloration
  • neurologic disorders
  • weak immune system
  • low body temperature
  • weak bones and tissues
  • irregular heart patterns
  • low levels of serum copper
  • decreased number of white blood cells

Supplementary copper intake may help reduce the risk of deficiencies. There are a few variations of copper supplements available in the market. These include cupric oxide, copper sulfate, and copper gluconate. Copper amino acid chelates may also be used to add to dietary intake.

These oral supplemets can be taken in the form of individual pills or as a component of multivitamins. Copper is also available as a topical gel or solution.

Copper Side Effects

Copper toxicity from overdose is very uncommon in the general population. However, it has still been known to occur through water and beverage contamination from copper-containing plumbing and containers. Overdose may cause a number of minor and more serious problems, including:

  • death
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • jaundice
  • vomiting
  • comatose
  • stomach pain
  • liver damage
  • kidney failure
  • heart problems
  • weakness and fatigue
  • headaches and dizziness
  • metallic taste in the mouth

Copper overdose may be worsened by genetic disorders that alter copper metabolism. Examples of such conditions are Wilson’s disease, cirrhosis, and idiopathic copper toxicosis. Absorption rate may also be affected by interactions with other minerals and medications, such as:

  • zinc
  • estrogen
  • fructose
  • vitamin C
  • nifedipine
  • cimetidine
  • allopurinol
  • penicillamine
  • birth control pills
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories

The safe tolerable upper levels (UL) of copper from supplements have been set at the following levels:


UL (mcg/day)

0 to 12 months


1 to 3 years


4 to 8 years


9 to 13 years


14 to 18 years


Over 18 years


*Infants’ source of copper must be taken from food and formulas only.

Copper Dosage

The recommended daily intake of dietary copper has been set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine as follows:


Dosage (mcg/day)

0 to 6 months


7 to 12 months


1 to 3 years


4 to 8 years


9 to 13 years


14 to 18 years


Over 19 years


Pregnant women


Breastfeeding women


Copper intake of children should be obtained from natural food sources alone and not from supplements. Adults who take 1mg of supplementary copper are advised to take at least 8 mg of zinc. This will prevent any other imbalances and health problems from occurring.


University of Maryland Medical Center. Copper.

Linus Pauling Institute. Copper.

WebMD. Copper.


This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.

Products (Total Items: 11)

Copper 2 mg 100 caps by Douglas Labs
Copper 2 mg 100 caps by Douglas Labs
USD Click for recommended alternate product
Copper Bisglycinate 60vcaps by Thorne Research
Copper Bisglycinate 60vcaps by Thorne Research
60 vcaps
Copper Sebacate 4 mg 75 caps by Allergy Research Group
Copper Sebacate 4 mg 75 caps by Allergy Research Group
4 mg 75 caps
USD $13.15
Chelated Copper 5 mg 100 tabs  by Carlson Labs
Chelated Copper 5 mg 100 tabs by Carlson Labs
5 mg 100 tabs
USD $14.90
4 Copper Trace Minerals 2 oz by Bodybio/ELyte
4 Copper Trace Minerals 2 oz by Bodybio/ELyte
2 oz
USD $12.15
4 Copper Trace Minerals 4 oz by Bodybio/ELyte
4 Copper Trace Minerals 4 oz by Bodybio/ELyte
4 oz
USD $17.20
Cu-5 (Copper) 100 caps by Bio-Tech
Cu-5 (Copper) 100 caps by Bio-Tech
USD Click to view alternate product recommendation
Pro-Copper 4 mg 60 caps by Ecological Formula
Pro-Copper 4 mg 60 caps by Ecological Formula
4 mg 60 caps
USD $8.95
Copper (citrate) 60 capsules by Pure Encapsulations
Copper (citrate) 60 capsules by Pure Encapsulations
60 caps
USD $9.20
Copper (glycinate) 60 caps by Pure Encapsulations
Copper (glycinate) 60 caps by Pure Encapsulations
60 caps
USD $9.20
Cu 1.5 Copper 100 vegcaps by Bio-Tech
Cu 1.5 Copper 100 vegcaps by Bio-Tech
100 vegcaps
USD $8.40

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