Copper

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Copper is a mineral that is prevalent throughout the entire human body. It helps produce red blood cells and supports nerve cells and immune system function. Additionally, copper is used to produce collagen, which is an essential component of bones and connective tissue. Copper also has antioxidant properties helping protect cells and DNA from free radical damage. Copper helps the body absorb iron and produce energy. The majority of people do not get a sufficient amount of copper from the diet, but deficiency is rare. Deficiency can be recognized by the following:

  • Anemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Bone fractures and osteoporosis
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pigment loss in the skin
  • Issues with the thyroid function

People who may benefit from copper supplementation include those who consume a large amount of vitamin C, zinc, or iron, but it is important to be cautious of copper levels as too much copper can be dangerous.

Also known as:  Citrate de Cuivre, Cobre, Copper Citrate, Copper Gluconate, Copper Sulfate, Cuivre, Cuivre Élémentaire, Cupric Oxide, Cupric Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate Pentahydrate, Cuprum Aceticum, Cuprum Metallicum, Elemental Copper, Gluconate de Cuivre, Numéro Atomique 29, Oxyde Cuivrique, Pentahydrate de Sulfate de Cuivre, Sulfate de Cuivre, Sulfate Cuivrique, Sulfate Cuprique

Diseases and Conditions

Copper is likely effective for copper deficiency. Taking copper either orally or intravenously is effective for treating copper deficiency and anemia due to copper deficiency.

Copper is possibly ineffective for the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Evidence has shown that taking eight milligrams per day of copper orally for twelve months does not improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease compared with placebo. Clinical research also has shown that taking a solution containing zinc and copper sulfates, providing two milligrams per kilogram of zinc plus two-tenths of one milligram per kilogram of copper, daily for two weeks does not reduce the duration of diarrhea, the weight of stool, or the need for oral rehydration or intravenous fluids compared with placebo. Lastly, supplementing three milligrams per day of copper, alone or in combination with fish oil, does not seem to affect symptoms of SLE when taken over a period of twenty-four weeks.

Safety

Copper is likely safe when consumed orally and appropriately, as long as doses do not exceed 10 mg per day.

It is unsafe to consume copper orally in high doses as it can cause liver damage, renal failure, and death.

It is likely safe for children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women to consume copper orally, appropriately, within the recommended dosage, and under the supervision of a physician.

The most common side effect reported with copper include the following:

  • Cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

Copper toxicity is rare; but symptoms include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Uremia
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Hypotension
  • Cardiovascular collapse

Chronic exposure to copper may lead to the following:

  • Fever
  • Skin discoloration
  • Epigastric pain
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Acute hepatic failure

Medication Interactions

Copper has a minor interaction with contraceptive drugs and a moderate interaction with penicillamine. Copper chelates penicillamine, decreasing its absorption, which means it's best to separate dose times by at least two hours.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Copper may have interactions with the following supplements, herbs, and foods:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

Research has suggested that in infants, high iron concentrations in formula can reduce absorption of copper and reduce copper status; however, in healthy breastfed infants age six to nine months, iron supplements do not appear to affect copper absorption. Fifteen hundred milligrams of vitamin C taken daily decreases serum levels of copper and the copper transport protein, ceruloplasmin, in young men. Lastly, large amounts of zinc can inhibit copper absorption, due to competition for absorption from the gut.

Dosage

The correct dosage of any supplement requires a comprehensive analysis of many factors including your age, sex, health conditions, DNA, andlifestyle. 

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for copper:

  • In infants aged zero to six months, the recommended dosage is two hundred micrograms per day.
  • In infants aged seven to twelve months, the recommended dosage is two hundred twenty micrograms per day.
  • In children aged one to three years, the recommended dosage is three hundred forty micrograms per day.
  • In children aged four to eight years, the recommended dosage is four hundred forty micrograms per day.
  • In children aged nine to thirteen years, the recommended dosage is seven hundred micrograms per day.
  • In males and females aged fourteen to eighteen years, the recommended dosage is eight hundred ninety micrograms per day.
  • In males and females aged nineteen and older, the recommended dosage is nine hundred micrograms per day.
  • In pregnant females, the recommended dosage is one thousand micrograms per day.
  • In lactating females, the recommended dosage is one thousand three hundred micrograms per day.

Foods

Copper is found in following foods:

  • Oysters and other shellfish
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Organ meats (kidneys, liver)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Dried fruits such as prunes
  • Cocoa
  • Black pepper
  • Yeast

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References

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002419.htm
  2. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/copper
  3. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/references.aspx?productid=902

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