Copper

Essential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Necessary for energy and respiratory function, copper also supports the formation of bone, collagen, red blood cells, healthy nerves and joints, hair and skin coloring, plus many enzymatic functions of the human body. It’s seldom supplemented by itself as most people get enough from a multivitamin/mineral.

Where to find Copper

Copper can be found in oysters, liver, nuts, legumes, and grains.

Note: Copper is also used extensively in cookware and plumbing.

Popup: Foods highest in Copper

Daily Value

The Daily Value for Copper is 2 mg.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Copper

As copper is lost through sweat and is necessary for the health of all connective tissues, active people might want to make sure it’s included in their multivitamin/mineral supplement to counteract possible deficiencies.
Ways that Copper can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:

  • Ensure the health of collagen and elastin, which are necessary for bone and connective-tissue formation
  • Alleviate pain of arthritis by supporting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions in the body
Ways that Copper can enhance Energy & Endurance:
  • Support respiratory function by aiding the utilization of iron
  • Necessary for optimal energy levels, supporting iron utilization and ATP production

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Copper deficiency

Deficiency of Copper has been linked to:

  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Impaired immune function
  • Anemia
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Low “taste” sensation
  • Herpes
  • Low white blood count
  • Osteoporosis
  • Baldness
  • Diarrhea
  • Impaired respiratory function
  • Hyperlipidemia (high blood fat levels)
Potential uses for Copper

Research indicates that Copper may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Impaired immune function
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Herpes

DISCUSSION

More about Copper

Necessary for energy and respiratory function, copper also supports the formation of bone, collagen, red blood cells, healthy nerves and joints, hair and skin coloring, plus many enzymatic functions of the human body. It’s seldom supplemented by itself as most people get enough from a multivitamin/mineral supplement.

Why we need it

Copper, an essential trace mineral, is important for the function of two very important enzymes in our bodies. The first is SOD or superoxide dismutase, which is one of the most powerful free-radical fighters available to us. In this way, copper supports our immune systems and our ability to fight disease.

The second enzyme is called lysil oxidase, which is necessary for collagen and elastin formation. Collagen is a protein necessary for bone formation, health, and repair, and elastin is a connective-tissue protein.

Copper is also necessary for iron utilization, which is required for energy. If copper levels are low and iron is inhibited, fatigue and muscle weakness can follow. By supporting iron, copper also ensures healthy respiratory function, delivering oxygen to red blood cells. In addition, our bodies need copper to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is our bodies’ key energy producer.

Deficiency issues

Because copper is found in so many foods as well as being used for both cookware and plumping (so it seeps into the food we eat), deficiencies are rare. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that zinc interferes with the absorption of copper, and Vitamin C can inhibit the metabolism of copper, potentially leading to deficiencies. Some evidence also suggests active people (especially women) have higher demands, as copper is lost through sweat, and studies have shown women often ingest less than optimal amounts.

Deficiencies can lead to a number of complications, including anemia, high cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, general weakness, and impaired respiratory function. On the opposite side, there have also been rare cases of toxicity.

Therapeutic uses

Copper has anti-inflammatory actions and increases the effectiveness of some over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. It’s commonly been used in the prevention of heart disease and to alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis sufferers often use copper bracelets in hopes of pain relief. While this claim has not been proven, studies have documented positive results.
In conclusion

While copper supplementation is most often covered in a multivitamin/mineral formula or a meal-replacement powder, it is definitely essential to many health aspects and shouldn’t be overlooked.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

1.5 to 3 mg may be used daily, usually in the form of a multivitamin/mineral.

Timing

Vitamin C, zinc, and manganese can all interfere with copper absorption, so it’s recommended that if you do use copper separately, take it at least two hours before or after using any of the above nutrients.

Tip

Approximately a 10:1 ratio between zinc and copper is very important because these minerals compete for uptake. If supplementing with 2 mg of copper, it’s wise to add 20 mg of zinc. Too much of one can cause a deficiency of the other.

As well, five to ten grams of Vitamin C may cause a copper imbalance.

Synergists of Copper

No synergists have been noted.

Safety of Copper

Copper supplements should not be used by anyone with Wilson’s disease.

Toxicity of Copper

In rare cases, an overabundance can cause fatigue, irritability, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Bremner, I., and Beattie, J.H., “Copper and Zinc Metabolism in Health and Disease: Speciation and Interactions,” Proc Nutr Soc 54.2 (1995) : 489-99.
  • Brewer, G.J., et al., “Treatment of Wilson’s Disease with Zinc: XI. Interaction with Other Anticopper Agents,” J Am Coll Nutr 12.1 (1993) : 26-30.
  • Brzozowska, A., “(Interaction of Iron, Zinc and Copper in the Body of Animals and Humans),” Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig 40.4-6 (1989) : 302-12.
  • Turnlund, J.R., “Copper Nutriture, Bioavailability, and the Influence of Dietary Factors,” J Am Diet Assoc 88.3 (1988) : 303-8.
  • Williams, D.M., “Copper Deficiency in Humans,” Semin Hematol 20.2 (1983) : 118-28.