Health Topics

Are you Getting Enough Copper From Your Diet?

13 foods high in copper and how much copper you need.

What is copper?

Copper is a mineral that is found in the body. The body uses copper for making energy, connective tissues, blood vessels, maintaining the nervous system and immune systems, activating genes and for brain development.

What foods have copper in them?

  1. Organ meats (such as beef liver) 
  2. Shellfish (such as oysters)
  3. Nuts (such as cashews)
  4. Seeds (such as sesame and sunflower)
  5. Chocolate
  6. Wheat-bran cereals
  7. Whole-grain products
  8. Potatoes
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Avocados
  11. Chickpeas
  12. Tofu
  13. Tap water and other beverages can also be sources of copper, although this varies by the source

Am I getting enough copper?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of people get enough copper from their diets and do not need an additional supplement. 

How much copper do you need?

The amount of copper you need daily depends on your age:

  • Birth to 6 months: 200mcg
  • Infants 7-12 months: 220mcg
  • Children 1-3 years: 340mcg
  • Children 4-8 years: 440mcg
  • Children 9-13 years: 700mcg
  • Teens 14-18 years: 890mcg
  • Adults 19 years and older: 900mcg
  • Pregnant women: 1,000mcg
  • Breastfeeding women: 1,300mcg

Should you take a copper supplement?

Certain groups of people have trouble getting enough copper from their diets and should speak with their physician about taking a copper supplement:

  • People with celiac disease
  • People with Menkes disease
  • People taking high doses of zinc supplements, which can interfere with the ability to absorb copper and could lead to copper deficiency

Copper is available in many multivitamin/mineral supplements, in supplements that contain only copper, and in other dietary supplements. Copper in dietary supplements is often in the forms of cupric oxide, cupric sulfate, copper amino acid chelates and copper gluconate.

Are there any negative side effects of copper?

Too much copper can cause liver damage, abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Copper toxicity is rare, but can occur if copper-containing water pipes leak copper into your drinking water.

Copper deficiency symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lightened patches of skin
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Connective tissue disorders affecting skin and ligaments
  • Weak and brittle bones
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Beware of excessive zinc intake which can cause copper deficiency.