Copper is a nutrient found in the body in very small quantities (trace element) and is vital to its proper functioning. In particular it is involved in manufacturing collagen fibers and maintaining cartilage, tendon, and bone health. It is also essential for fighting infection and maintaining proper heart function.
What does copper do?
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Copper:
Source: Health Canada; IOM 2006: Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient RequirementsOtten JJ, Pitzi Hellwig J, Meyers LD, editors, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2006.
Copper is present in many foods. The copper content of the soil in which vegetables grow has no influence on their copper concentration. Chocolate, cocoa, mushrooms, tea, and brewers’ yeast are also a good source of copper.
Food Sources for Copper:
Source:Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, versions 2001b and 2005, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fichier canadien sur les éléments nutritifs, versions 2001b et 2005; Ministère de l'Agriculture des États-Unis(USDA), National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Serious copper deficiency is rare in humans but has been observed in certain very specific conditions such as premature nursing infants who are fed commercial formulas with insufficient copper and in malnourished nursing infants and growing children. Copper deficiency may be associated with osteoporosis and, if left untreated, may lead to anemia caused by fewer red blood cells and lesions in the connective tissue or lungs.
Signs of copper deficiency:
Beneficial properties attributable to copper:
Copper poisoning is a relatively rare phenomenon. Poisoning can occur in certain individuals who present a genetic predisposition to adverse reactions caused by taking in too much copper.
Signs of excess copper:
*NOTE: Indian childhood cirrhosis, non-Indian childhood cirrhosis, and idiopathic copper toxicosis are diseases characterized by excess copper in the liver, producing cirrhosis. The ingestion of milk that has been canned or boiled in corroded brass or copper containers is thought to be the cause. Idiopathic copper toxicosis develops only in newborns with unrecognized genetic anomalies.
Natural health products and vitamin supplements:
Medications that may lead to decreased copper absorption:
Medications that may lead to increased copper absorption:
***Speak with your pharmacist if you plan to take copper supplements. Your pharmacist can help you choose the solution that’s best for you based on your health and any drugs you take.