Copper Sources and Functions

Copper Sources and Functions

All of the nutrient minerals work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of copper, a trace mineral, in your good health.

What it does Part of enzymes involved with energy production, nervous system function, connective tissue formation, iron metabolism; antioxidant
Daily needs [Infants: 200-220 µg*] [Children: 340-890 µg†] [Men: 900 µg] [Women: 900 µg] [Pregnant: 1,000 µg] [Lactating: 1,300 µg]
Not enough Anemia
Too Much Liver damage
Foods Whole grains, nuts, legumes, seafood, cocoa

*The lower value is for infants up to 6 mos., higher value is for infants up to a year old.
† The first value is for children 1-3 with the amount increasing until age 18.

Just a trace

Note that the adequate daily intake of copper is given in micrograms (µg). A microgram is .0001 milligrams (mg), so it is avery small amount. Only a trace of this mineral is needed, but it is nevertheless very necessary to your good health.


Scientists and health experts have known for a long time that copper is an essential element in human nutrition, but they are learning more every day. The main functions of copper are related to its activity as a component of a number of enzymes.One of the most important of these copper enzyme functions is the production of hemoglobin, the iron-carrying protein in your blood. Other functions that involve copper enzymes includehealing of wounds and the release of energy from your cells.

Get rid of free radicals

Most of the copper found in your body is in the Cu++ form. These copper ions have the ability to easily take on and give up electrons, a trait which is important in dealing with unstable free radicals in your body.

Fun Fact about Copper Sources and Functions: Copper has been recognized as vital to human health and for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years, going back to the ancient Egyptians.

Too little or too much

Copper deficiency is rare, since it is found in a variety of foods. Premature infants and those suffering with malnutrition are the groups most likely to suffer from a copper deficiency.

Copper toxicity is also rare, particularly from foods. However, excessive intake of copper from supplements may cause liver damage.

Interesting Fact about Copper Sources and Functions: If you have copper pipes in your house, you may be getting some of your dietary copper from the water you drink. The longer the water sits in the pipe, the more copper will dissolve into it, so the first water you run in the morning, will have the highest concentration of copper. Eventually, the pipe may soften and spring a leak, especially if your water is acidic. The good news—you get some copper in your diet; the bad news—you may get an unexpected shower!

Upper Level

The upper intake level that has been established for adults for copper is 10,000 µg per day.

Click here to go from Copper Sources and Functions page to Nuts and Seeds page.

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