As a trace mineral, copper is often overlooked when we think about all the micronutrients that our bodies need. However, this micronutrient plays a huge role in supporting our health. 

Role of Copper in the Body

Our bodies need copper to build many enzymes that are used in energy production. The trace mineral is also needed for absorbing and breaking down iron as well as building connective tissue (such as tendons and ligaments), red blood cells, collagen and neurotransmitters

Copper may also act as an antioxidant, protecting our bodies from the harmful chemicals in our environment. Check out “Antioxidants, simplified.” to learn more about antioxidants and how to include more of them in your diet. 

How Much Copper Do I Need?

The amount of copper our bodies need can vary depending on many factors including age and sex. Health Canada recommends that healthy people over the age of 18 consume 900 micrograms (mcg) each day. Additionally, they recommend that pregnant or lactating individuals consume 1,300 micrograms daily.  

You can check out Health Canada’s website for a complete list of recommended daily allowances.

Am I At Risk of Deficiency?

Although many people do not get enough copper in their diets, copper deficiency is fairly uncommon. However, copper deficiency can lead to the development of secondary conditions such as,

    • Anemia 
    • High cholesterol 
    • Osteoporosis and other bone defects 
    • Trouble breaking down and using fats for energy 
    • High risk of infections

Some people may have a higher risk of deficiency. This includes,

    • People with celiac disease 
    • People with Menkes disease 
    • People with kidney disease or pancreatic disease 
    • People experiencing prolonged periods of stress 
    • People taking high doses of zinc supplements 

Can I Have Too Much Copper?

Yes! Long-term exposure to excessive amounts of copper can have negative impacts on our health including damaging our liver and causing unpleasant GI symptoms such as, 

    • Stomach pain
    • Cramping 
    • Nausea and vomiting 
    • Diarrhea 

Although long-term exposure to the mineral can have negative effects on our health, it is rare for healthy people to experience copper toxicity. However, people with Wilson’s disease have a higher risk of copper toxicity as they have trouble breaking down the mineral.

Where Can I Find Copper?

We can find copper in both drinks and foods. However, the amount of copper found in tap water and over drinks can vary. As a result, foods in our diet are a more reliable source of the mineral. Some of the most copper-rich foods include,

    • Oysters 
    • Potatoes 
    • Shiitake mushrooms 
    • Cashews 
    • Dungeness crab 
    • Sunflower seeds 
    • Millet
    • Atlantic salmon
    • Avocado
Plate of oysters. Oysters are a rich source of copper.

Dietary Supplements

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that copper can also be found in dietary supplements including multivitamins and individual supplements. These supplements contain different forms and amounts of copper. At the moment, it is not known if our bodies absorb one form of the mineral better than another form.

Interaction with Other Medications

Copper is not known to interact with any medications. However, it is still important to chat with your doctor or registered dietitian before starting new supplements. 

Check out the Micronutrient Monday series to learn more about the role of vitamins and minerals in supporting our health, what happens if we do not consume enough and where to find them in foods!

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Copper. (n.d.). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from 

Copper Information. (n.d.). Mount Sinai. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from

Copper Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route) Description and Brand Names. (2022, February 1). Mayo Clinic.