Copper – Mineral

Overview & Description

Copper is an essential trace mineral. It is needed by the body in very small amounts. Copper is found in all tissues of the body but mostly in the skeleton and muscle.


Copper deficiency is rare but not unknown. It is sometimes caused by a lack of copper in the diet. It is more likely a result of genetic problems or from consuming too much zinc. Copper deficiency can severely disrupt growth and metabolism.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of copper for adult men and women is 900 micrograms. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of harm for almost all people. The adult UL for copper is 10 milligrams per day. Harmful effects of too much copper from dietary sources are extremely rare in the United States. But toxicity from supplements is possible. Excessive copper intake can cause liver damage.

Functions and Sources

In what food source is the nutrient found?

Copper is found in many foods. The best food sources are organ meats (especially liver), seafood, nuts, and seeds. Other good sources are whole grain products, wheat bran, and cocoa products. Some foods have lower levels of copper but can add copper to the diet because they are consumed frequently. These include tea, potatoes, milk, and chicken.

How does the nutrient affect the body?

Copper helps the body make hemoglobin, which is needed to carry oxygen in red blood cells. It serves as a part of many body enzymes and helps the body produce energy in the cells. It is important in the development of tissues in the bone, lung, and circulatory system. It helps maintain a healthy nervous system.

Article type: xmedgeneral