Copper is a trace mineral that doesn't get much attention when compared to other minerals. It is quite easy to obtain from food, and also one of the reasons your blood smells like pennies (ever noticed that?). Supplements are generally not needed as it is abundant in both plant and animal foods and is not affected too much by nutrient inhibitors like phytates. However, consuming large amounts of zinc will actually increase the body's need for copper in order to keep balance. The RDA is set at 900 mcg per day assuming normal zinc consumption, but can go up to a few milligrams if you take zinc supplements or consume foods like oysters.

Functions

  • Required for iron use
  • Collagen synthesis
  • Used as a pigment
  • Manufacturing of neurotransmitters
  • Balance of zinc levels
  • Cofactor of various enzyme and antioxidant systems

Primary deficiency symptoms and diseases

Food sources

Copper is quite easy to obtain from the diet and deficiencies are extremely rare except in cases of severe protein deficiencies and zinc toxicity. Consuming excessive amounts of copper can increase zinc needs, so it would be wise to watch your intake and balance accordingly.

  • Liver
  • Strawberries
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

Supplementation

A copper supplement is usually unnecessary except in cases of zinc overload, but even then, a few strawberries can easily fix that. Otherwise, you are likely to see copper in zinc supplements.

  • Copper chelate
  • Copper picolinate
  • Copper orotate
  • Copper sulfate

Other tips

As long as you don't go overboard on oysters or zinc supplements, your copper status will likely be just fine.