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Copper: Tiny But Mighty

Is it true that some of the most substantive minerals in our bodies function on the smallest doses? Well…YES! The amount needed does not reflect importance. Trace minerals support wellness. The trace mineral—copper—shows their vitality.  

What Is Copper?

Copper is an essential trace mineral that supports various body processes as a cofactor in enzyme systems. Cofactors increase the rate of essential chemical reactions in enzyme systems. So, sufficiency matters. Copper supports enzyme systems involved in energy production, iron absorption, and composition in the musculoskeletal system.

Copper & Our Bodies

This mineral supports enzyme systems involved in energy production, iron absorption, collagen composition, connective tissue composition, neurotransmitter composition, and red blood cell composition. Enzyme systems break down essential nutrients—carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—to sustain our bodies. Though the list below is not exhaustive, copper supports the following body processes:

  • Collagen Production: supports the activation of the enzyme required for collagen maturation
  • Connective Tissue Composition: involved in enzyme systems that bond elastin and collagen
  • Energy Production: cofactor in the cuproenzyme system
  • Iron Absorption: copper may support iron absorption
  • Nerve Cell Maintenance: supports sustained phospholipid production in myelin sheaths
  • Neurotransmitter Production: supports enzyme system involved in the production of dopamine
  • Red Blood Cell Production: involved in the production of hemoglobin

Though the jargon may seem confusing, the bullets above simply reinforce the importance of copper through its involvement in cuproenzyme systems. These enzyme systems cannot effectively serve your body without this trace mineral.

Daily Recommended Intake

The National Institute for Health offers the following daily recommended intakes for average, healthy adults.

  • Adult Males: 900 micrograms/day
  • Adult Females: 900 micrograms/day

You can consume this mineral naturally through your diet or through supplementation. Do whatever best supports your individual nutrient sufficiency.  

Natural Sources of Copper

This mineral is present in whole food diets. See common copper sources in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1

Many consume sufficient amounts of copper through whole food diets. Both plant and animal foods provide sufficient amounts when consumed intentionally. Despite this, nutrient gaps persist.

If you struggle to consume adequate amounts of this mineral through food alone, consider supplementation! Supplementation exists to close nutrient gaps. If you have questions about your individual health and mineral intake needs, reach out to your healthcare provider!

Can I Take Too Much Copper?

In short, yes.

Though copper supports vast essential functions in the body, we only require trace amounts. When we have minimal excess, our body excretes it through bile and urine. However, we still want to avoid oversaturation as the body may experience discomfort before removing the excess.

Quick Facts

Copper is an essential trace mineral that functions as a cofactor in cuproenzyme systems. It supports energy production, iron absorption, and composition in the musculoskeletal system.

What Does It Do: functions as a cofactor in cuproenzyme systems

How Much Do I Need: average adults require 900mcg/day

Natural Sources: avocado, chickpeas, crab, potatoes, salmon, and other whole foods