What does it do?
Copper is needed to absorb and utilize iron. It is
also part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Copper is
needed to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy the body runs on.
Synthesis of some hormones requires copper, as does collagen (the “glue”
that holds muscle tissue together) and tyrosinase (the enzyme that puts
pigment into the skin).
Where is it found?
The best source of copper is oysters. Nuts, dried legumes, cereals,
potatoes, vegetables, and meat also contain copper.
Who is likely to be
deficient? Copper deficiency is uncommon. Children with Menke’s
syndrome are unable to absorb copper normally and become severely
deficient unless medically treated early in life. Deficiency can also
occur in people who supplement with zinc without also increasing copper
interferes with copper absorption.1 Health consequences of
zinc-induced copper deficiency can be quite serious.2 In the absence of copper
C supplementation has also been reported to mildly impair copper
Copper deficiency can cause anemia, a drop in HDL cholesterol (the “good”
cholesterol), and several other health problems.
much is usually taken? Most people consume less than the recommended
amount of this mineral. Nonetheless, supplementing with 1–3 mg per day is
important only for people who take zinc supplements, including the zinc
found in multiple-vitamin/mineral
Are there any side effects or interactions? The level at
which copper causes problems is unclear. But in combination with zinc, up
to 3 mg per day is considered safe. People drinking tap water from new
copper pipes should consult their nutritionally oriented doctor before
supplementing, since they might be getting enough (or even too much)
copper from their water. People with Wilson’s
disease should never take copper.
Zinc interferes with
copper absorption. People taking zinc supplements for more than a few
weeks should also take copper (unless they have Wilson’s disease). In the
absence of copper supplementation, vitamin C may interfere with copper
metabolism. Copper improves absorption and utilization of iron.