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Copper is an essential trace mineral that facilitates the activity of several enzymes. The mineral provides a role in the development and maintenance of the cardiovascular system, including the heart, arteries, and other blood vessels, the skeletal system, and the structure and function of the nervous system, including the brain.

The highest concentration of copper is found in the brain and liver. Copper is found in all other tissues in varying amounts, and about 50 percent of the total copper content of the body is found in the bones and muscles.


Copper is involved in respiration and the synthesis of hemoglobin. It is essential in the production of collagen and the neurotransmitter noradrenalin. It is an important blood antioxidant and prevents the rancidity of polyunsaturated fats.

Copper is involved in numerous enzyme systems that break down or build up body tissues. It plays a role in the production of the skin pigment melanin by converting the amino acid tyrosine. The mineral is essential for the synthesis of phospholipids, which are a component of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves.

Absorption of copper takes place in the stomach and upper intestine. Approximately 30 percent of ingested copper is absorbed. Copper influences iron absorption and mobilization from the liver and other tissue stores. Absorption of the mineral is increased by acids and inhibited by calcium (Kirschmann, 1996).


Copper is used in the treatment of anemia because it works with iron in the development and maintenance of red blood cells and their protein hemoglobin.

Copper may provide benefit against pollution exposure and possibly protect against carcinogenesis and tumor growth. While this action is unproven in humans, animal studies have shown that copper may protect against chemically induced cancers and some RNA viruses (Kirschmann, 1996).

Wearing copper bracelets is a long-term folk remedy for arthritis. While this information is controversial, a double-blind study in Australia concluded that copper bracelets reduced pain and inflammation. The hypothesis is that copper is absorbed through the skin and chelated to another compound that exerts and anti-inflammatory action. Copper is part of ceruloplasmin and SOD (superoxide dismutase), compounds that have antioxidant activity that may contribute benefits to the treatment of arthritis (Murray, 1996).


Copper deficiency may play a role in atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms. The exact mechanism is unknown, but studies shows that a copper deficiency or a high zinc intake resulting in deficiency of copper result in increased blood cholesterol levels, heart and arterial damage and increased mortality.

Copper deficiency may influence the development of aortic aneurysms because of the mineral’s role in cross-linking collagen and elastin fibers. The aorta and other arteries are surrounded by elastin fibers consisting of collagen and copper is essential to maintain their integrity. Supplementing with high doses of copper may increase the damaging oxidation of LDL cholesterol and is not recommended (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).


Copper deficiencies are relatively rare, but are found in children with iron-deficiency anemia, severe protein malnutrition, chronic diarrhea or other malabsorption difficulties. Since copper is required for a number of enzymes systems and bodily processes, a deficiency can cause a variety of disorders. Symptoms of copper deficiency include general weakness, impairedrespiration, skin sores, decreased immune function, elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol.

Copper deficiency is usually associated with poor collagen integrity, which manifests in rupture of blood vessels, osteoporosis, and bone and joint abnormalities. Copper deficiency results in iron deficiency anemia because it is required the proper absorption and utilization of iron.

Copper deficiency can cause early graying of the hair and loss of skin color because the pigment melanin is a copper-dependent pigment.

Menkes’ syndrome is a genetic defect in copper absorption in which infants show defective skin pigmentation, kinky hair, failure to thrive, abnormal development of the arteries and bones, progressive mental deterioration, and generally premature death.

Copper deficiency affects the cardiovascular system because it causes extensive damage to the heart and arteries. This may manifest in abnormal cardiograms, increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and clot formation (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).


Copper toxicity is rare and a daily consumption of 10 to 35 milligrams is probably safe. A high copper intake adversely effects zinc absorption, and thus dosage recommendations for copper are often based on zinc intake. The optimal ratio of zinc to copper is 10:1.

Copper is an emetic and doses over 10-20 milligrams may produce nausea and over 60 milligrams usually produces vomiting. Copper supplements should be kept away from children.

Patients with ulcerative colitis might absorb excess copper in their intestinal tissues which can lead to intestinal disorders, impaired healing and reduced resistance to infection (Murray, 1996; Somer, 1995).


There is no official Recommended Daily Allowance for copper. The following are safe and adequate ranges for copper (Murray, 1996).

Under 6 months 0.4-0.6
6-12 months 0.6-0.7
1-3 years 0.7-1.0
4-6 years 1.0-1.5
7-10 years 1.5-2.5
11+ years 1.5-3.0



Copper is found in numerous foods. The primary sources are legumes, oysters, and other shellfish.

Copper Content of Selected Foods, in Milligrams per 3.5 oz (100 gm) Serving:

Brazil nuts 2.3 Butter 0.4 Corn oil 0.2
Almonds 1.4 Rye grain 0.4 Ginger root 0.2
Hazelnuts 1.3 Barley 0.4 Molasses 0.2
Walnuts 1.3 Olive oil 0.3 Turnips 0.2
Pecans 1.3 Carrot 0.3 Green peas 0.1
Split peas, dry 1.2 Coconut 0.3 Papaya 0.1
Buckwheat 0.8 Garlic 0.3 Apple 0.1
Peanuts 0.8 Millet 0.2    
Sunflower oil 0.5 Whole wheat 0.2    

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Medical Warning& Copyright Info: For Ages 13+ This product is NOT being sold as a Medical Device or to replace professionally prescribed Medical treatment. Consult your Doctor before use. DO NOT USE IF YOU ARE PREGNANT, WEAR A PACEMAKER, OR ANY OTHER FORM OF ELECTRICAL IMPLANT OR DEVICE FOR MEDICAL REASONS OF ANY KIND. >> Click here for more information

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