Copper: An Essential Mineral In Balance With Zinc

Secure Ordering | Free Shipping | 20% Off Retail Prices

Along with providing information on whether Copper supplements might be right for you, this article also links to Fullscript where you can buy Copper supplements online through the secure healthcare formulary and get free shipping and 20% off the retail price of professional-grade supplements.

Copper is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions including the formation of red blood cells, the absorption of iron, and the development and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, and brain health. From enhancing energy levels to supporting immune function, understanding the role of copper supplements can help people make informed decisions about their nutritional needs.

What Is Copper?

Copper is a trace mineral found throughout the human body. It’s key for producing red blood cells and maintaining nerve cells and the immune system. Copper helps in the absorption and utilization of iron, preventing anemia and contributing to the production of energy within cells. It’s also involved in the formation of collagen, a fundamental component of bones and connective tissue, and plays a crucial role in the health of the heart and blood vessels. Additionally, copper is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and the development of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that allow for communication between nerve cells. This mineral is present in various foods, including nuts, seeds, whole grains, seafood, and dark leafy greens. However, supplements can help ensure adequate intake, especially for those with specific dietary restrictions or increased nutritional needs. Understanding copper’s multifaceted role underscores its importance in supporting a wide range of bodily functions, highlighting why maintaining sufficient levels is vital for overall health.

What Are the Health Benefits of Adequate Copper Intake?

  • Immune System Function: Copper is crucial in developing and maintaining robust immune cells, bolstering the body’s defenses against infections, and facilitating faster wound healing. Its role in immune function helps prevent illnesses and supports the body’s ability to combat pathogens effectively. Ensuring a balanced copper intake is essential for optimal immune health, as deficiencies can weaken immunity while excess copper may pose risks to overall health. PMC8840645
  • Bone Health: Copper’s involvement in collagen formation is vital for bone structure and strength. It supports the maintenance of bone density and integrity, which is particularly important as we age, reducing the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and minimizing the likelihood of bone fractures. PMC9762617

Copper is crucial for bone health and is involved in treating conditions like arthritis, fractures, and osteoporosis. It’s stored mostly in muscles and bones, and its presence in the body helps maintain bone strength and structure.

  • Energy Production: Essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), copper plays a significant role in energy production within cells. Adequate copper levels ensure that the body has enough ATP, supporting cellular functions and maintaining high energy levels, which is crucial for daily activities and overall health. PMC10710866
  • Brain Function: The brain relies on copper for its development and the maintenance of nerve cells. Copper influences neurotransmitter synthesis and function, playing a key role in cognitive processes, including memory, learning, and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, thereby supporting overall brain health. PMC6941745 PMID: 18779308
  • Aids in Iron Absorption: Copper plays a crucial role in facilitating the efficient absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and its mobilization from bodily stores, essential for preventing anemia. Studies suggest that copper deficiency can lead to increased levels of a protein called HIF-2α in the gut, affecting iron absorption and highlighting the important relationship between copper and iron in maintaining healthy blood levels and supporting overall health. PMC3610650
  • Antioxidant Protection: Copper’s role as an antioxidant extends to possibe cancer treatment strategies, as it helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to disease development. A study highlights targeting copper metabolism in cancer cells may offer promising approaches to stopping tumor growth and metastasis, highlighting copper’s possible in cancer treatment. PMC10327296
  • Skin and Hair Health: Copper contributes to skin and hair health by playing a role in melanin production, collagen synthesis, and promoting wound healing. Study shows that products infused with copper oxide particles, like socks and wound dressings, have been found to effectively treat skin issues such as athlete’s foot, improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and enhance wound healing, leading to healthier-looking skin and hair. PMC4556990
  • Thyroid Function: Copper is instrumental in the intricate balance of thyroid hormones, crucial for metabolic and energy regulation. An adequate amount of copper in the diet helps prevent thyroid disorders by ensuring the thyroid gland functions efficiently, thus balancing metabolism and supporting overall endocrine health. Research suggests that copper levels are inversely associated with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), highlighting its possible role in thyroid function. PMC10083359
  • Nervous System: Copper is vital for cognitive function as it contributes to the synthesis of myelin, the protective coating around neurons essential for efficient electrical impulse transmission. This supports neural health and cognitive functions by ensuring effective communication within the brain and throughout the body. Additionally, copper plays key roles in energy production, iron metabolism, and neurotransmitter synthesis in the brain. Disruptions in copper balance can adversely affect brain health, contributing to neurological diseases. PMC9698384
  • Connective Tissue Formation: Copper’s involvement in the formation and repair of connective tissue is critical for maintaining the integrity and function of tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. This not only supports the body’s structural framework but also enhances flexibility and resilience against injuries. A study where Copper-infused sutures are used in wound closure demonstrated accelerated healing and stronger tissue repair, with enhanced blood vessel formation, highlighting copper’s role in promoting connective tissue regeneration. PMC9617570
  • Cholesterol Levels: By influencing the metabolism of cholesterol, copper plays a role in reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while promoting an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This balance is essential for preventing the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study investigated the relationship between copper intake and cholesterol levels in elderly persons, revealing that higher copper intake was associated with lower total cholesterol and higher serum copper levels. PMID: 2626986
  • Reduces Inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of copper can significantly benefit those with conditions like arthritis. By mitigating inflammation, copper supplements help reduce pain and improve mobility for people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, enhancing their daily functioning and quality of life. Study shows that Copper-infused fabrics can alleviate inflammation, particularly beneficial for those with conditions like arthritis. They work by reducing the activation of certain molecules involved in inflammation. PMC10503751

The Balance Between Copper and Zinc

Copper and zinc are both essential minerals that play vital roles in various physiological processes, but they must maintain a delicate balance within the body due to their competitive relationship in absorption. These minerals use similar pathways for absorption in the gut, meaning an excess of one can inhibit the absorption of the other. Specifically, when there is a high intake of zinc, it can bind to and inhibit the transporter proteins responsible for copper absorption, leading to reduced copper availability.

Excessive zinc supplementation, particularly over long periods, can significantly disrupt this balance, leading to copper deficiency. This is because high levels of zinc can increase the expression of a protein called metallothionein in the intestinal lining, which has a higher affinity for copper than zinc. As a result, metallothionein binds to copper more readily, preventing its absorption and leading to its excretion from the body. Over time, this imbalance can result in copper deficiency, which may manifest in various health issues such as anemia, reduced immune function, and cardiovascular and bone health problems.

Copper is stored in the body in small amounts, primarily in the liver, but also in other tissues including muscle and bone. The body regulates copper levels through a complex system that not only controls absorption but also the release of copper from stores as needed to maintain overall homeostasis and support critical bodily functions like energy production, connective tissue formation, and brain health. Therefore, maintaining a balanced intake of copper and zinc is crucial for optimal health and to prevent mineral imbalances and their associated health issues.

Food Sources of Copper

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for copper for adults is 900 micrograms (µg) per day. General nutritional studies have shown that most people in the United States and other developed countries typically meet the recommended daily intake of copper through their diet. Copper deficiency is considered rare in the general population but can occur in certain conditions, such as malabsorption disorders, excessive zinc supplementation (which can interfere with copper absorption), or in persons with specific dietary restrictions.

Food SourceAmount of Copper (per serving)
Beef liver (cooked, 3 oz)12.4 mg
Oysters (cooked, 3 oz)4.8 mg
Dark chocolate (1 ounce)0.9 mg
Cashews (raw, 1 ounce)0.6 mg
Lentils (cooked, 1/2 cup)0.25 mg
Almonds (raw, 1 ounce)0.3 mg
Dried apricots (1/4 cup)0.25 mg
Avocado (1 medium)0.2 mg
Chickpeas (cooked, 1/2 cup)0.25 mg
Quinoa (cooked, 1 cup)0.4 mg
Spinach (cooked, 1 cup)0.3 mg
Kale (cooked, 1 cup)0.2 mg

Is Copper Safe?

Copper supplements, are safe and can be a beneficial addition to one’s dietary regimen. It’s important to adhere to the advised dosage because copper balance in the body is crucial; too little can lead to deficiency, while too much can cause toxicity. Health professionals suggest that adults should aim for a dietary copper intake of approximately 900 micrograms (μg) per day, with a safe upper limit of intake set at 10,000 μg (10 mg) per day for adults. Most people can achieve adequate copper levels through a balanced diet, but supplements are available for those who may need them, including persons with certain medical conditions or dietary restrictions.

Medication Interactions with Copper

  • Penicillamine: Commonly prescribed for Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, penicillamine binds to copper, facilitating its excretion from the body. This interaction can lead to copper deficiency if copper intake is not adequately monitored and adjusted, underscoring the need for medical supervision when using this medication to balance treatment objectives with maintaining essential mineral levels.
  • Zinc Supplements: When taken in high doses, zinc supplements can significantly diminish copper absorption due to competitive inhibition at the intestinal level. The body uses similar pathways to absorb these minerals, and excess zinc can effectively block copper from being absorbed, leading to symptoms of copper deficiency even when dietary intake would otherwise be sufficient.
  • Antacids: Regular, long-term use of antacids can impair the absorption of several key minerals, including copper. Antacids can alter the stomach’s acidity, which is crucial for dissolving and absorbing copper from the diet. This diminished absorption efficiency may result in lower copper levels, which could impact overall health if copper intake is not otherwise compensated.
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet): This medication, aimed at treating acid reflux and ulcers by reducing stomach acid, can similarly affect copper absorption. With reduced stomach acid, the solubility and hence the absorption of copper are decreased, leading to suboptimal copper levels in the body if not monitored and adjusted for.
  • Naproxen: As an NSAID, naproxen might influence copper metabolism indirectly. While the direct impact on copper levels may not be as pronounced as with other medications, the possibility for interaction exists, particularly in long-term use, which could subtly affect copper storage or utilization in the body.
  • Birth Control Pills: Oral contraceptives can increase copper levels in the blood, likely due to hormonal alterations that affect how copper is bound and transported in the bloodstream. Elevated copper levels can have various health implications, making it important for persons on oral contraceptives to monitor their copper status, especially if other symptoms or health issues arise.
  • Allopurinol (Zyloprim): Used in the management of gout, allopurinol may have an impact on copper metabolism, although the mechanisms and clinical significance of this interaction are less well understood. It highlights the complexity of drug-nutrient interactions and the importance of comprehensive management strategies that consider the possibility for such effects.

Supplement Interactions with Copper

  • Zinc Supplements: Taking high doses of zinc over an extended period can significantly inhibit the body’s ability to absorb copper, leading to copper deficiency. This occurs because zinc and copper are absorbed through the same pathways in the intestine, and excessive zinc can effectively block these pathways, preventing copper from being absorbed. It’s crucial for persons taking high levels of zinc to monitor their copper intake and possibly supplement with copper to maintain a healthy balance between these essential minerals.
  • Iron Supplements: Similar to zinc, iron supplements, particularly in high doses, can compete with copper for absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. This competition can result in decreased copper absorption and lead to a deficiency. Persons taking iron supplements, especially those with a high iron need, should be aware of this interaction and ensure they are receiving adequate copper either through diet or supplementation to maintain optimal mineral balance.
  • Vitamin C Supplements: While vitamin C is essential for health, in large doses, it may interfere with the absorption and metabolism of copper. Vitamin C can bind to copper, creating a complex that is less readily absorbed by the body. Over time, this can lead to lower copper levels, necessitating careful management of vitamin C intake, particularly when high-dose supplements are used.
  • Manganese Supplements: Manganese and copper share similar absorption mechanisms in the gut, which means high levels of manganese from supplements can inhibit copper absorption. This interaction highlights the importance of balancing the intake of these minerals, as excessive manganese supplementation could disrupt copper levels, leading to deficiency symptoms.
  • Calcium Supplements: Calcium, when taken in high doses, can also interfere with copper absorption, although this interaction is generally less pronounced than with zinc or iron. However, significant calcium supplementation could still impact copper status, particularly if dietary copper intake is low. Persons relying heavily on calcium supplements should consider their copper intake to ensure that both minerals are consumed in appropriate amounts for optimal health.

When you purchase linked products presented on this page, Supplement Sciences, LLC receives affiliate fees so that our dietitians can continue to create great content.

Thank you for your support!

Order Copper Supplements

Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

Your health is on the line. Health professionals know that many other online and retail options set a very low bar for quality–sometimes amazingly low. The Fullscript formulary is the most secure online source for the highest quality brands securely sourced to assure freshness and purity. Here’s what makes Fullscript the best:

  • Meticulous vetting of brand quality. Health professionals trust Fullscript to continuously monitor the quality of each item on the platform. Other retailers operate with profit as their highest or only motive when choosing brands. Fullscript cares only about quality and reliability. Unlike discount stores, large online marketplaces, and other retailers you won’t find ingredients sourced from China or other questionable locations or companies.
  • Always 20% Discount off the manufacturer’s retail price. When you follow any link from Supplement-Sciences.com, you will automatically get 20% off the retail price.
  • Free shipping over $50.
  • Freshness. Fullscript prioritizes freshness over bulk buying even if it means an increased risk of briefly being out of stock.
  • Top quality phone and online support. When you call, knowledgeable humans at Fullscript answer your questions.
  • How It Works:
    • Easy Sign-up & No Spam Email: Click the “View Product” button below to be taken to Fullscript’s login page where you can quickly create your secure account with just your name, email, and phone number. Then you will be taken directly to the product page.
    • Wide variety of supplement options: Once you sign in to your account, you are not limited to the products listed below. You will see similar items listed at the bottom of each product page on Fullscript.
    • Search For What You Want: Once inside Fullscript, you can search for the exact brands and products you want from their wide selection of quality brands.

Copper (Glycinate) by Pure Encapsulations

Copper (citrate) is a dietary supplement that helps activate enzymes that are important to energy metabolism. Copper may also facilitate iron absorption to help formulate hemoglobin and red blood cells.*

  • Essential trace mineral supplement*
  • Helps promote energy metabolism*
  • Supports numerous physiological processes*

Copper activates a number of enzymes important to energy metabolism. It is the key mineral in lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that weaves together collagen and elastin. Copper assists in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells by facilitating iron absorption. It is involved in protein metabolism, the production of RNA, and the synthesis of phospholipids used in the formation of myelin sheaths. Take 1–2 capsules per day, in divided doses, with meals.

Amount Per One Capsule Serving
Copper … 2mg (as copper glycinate)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Copper plays a crucial role in our overall health, supporting vital functions from immune system defense to energy production. Its benefits extend to enhancing bone health, improving heart function, and supporting brain health. Copper also aids in iron absorption, offers antioxidant protection, and contributes to the health of our skin and hair. Understanding the significance of copper in our diet and considering supplements when necessary can help maintain these essential bodily functions. Ensuring adequate copper intake is a simple yet effective step toward supporting our body’s natural processes and promoting wellness.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Supplement Sciences

Staff Authors at Nutriscape have been working on this article and it is still a work in progress. Please feel free to login and comment on what you see so far.

Leave a Reply