Description Copper is an essential trace mineral.
Function/ Used for Copper is an essential component of several enzymes. Copper supports iron absorption and works with iron in the formation of red blood cells.  It acts as an antioxidant, supports the function of the immune system and is needed for connective tissues, bone growth, nerve function and energy release. It also helps to maintain skin and hair pigmentation.
Intake Recommended intake

EU NRV: 1mg


UK average daily intake

In the UK, the average daily intake of copper in 2000/01 was 1.2mg/per day from food.1

As a supplement Available as a single supplement. Also commonly available as part of a multivitamin and mineral formula.

Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.

Found in (dietary sources) Good sources include wholegrain products, liver, most seafood, dried beans and peas.

In the UK many water pipes are made from copper and, therefore, tap water is an excellent source.

Deficiency Deficiency of copper is rare.

Marginal deficiency may result in elevated cholesterol levels; impaired glucose tolerance; defects in pigmentation and structure of the hair; demyelination (loss of the myelin sheath that surrounds the neurons to protect nerves); and degeneration of the nervous system.

In infants and children, copper deficiency can lead to skeletal fragility and increased susceptibility to infections, especially those of the respiratory tract.2

Precautions and contraindications Copper should not be taken by people with Wilson’s disease (the disorder may be exacerbated) or hepatic and biliary disease.

Safe Upper Level: 10mg/day3

Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding There is no evidence of adverse effects in pregnancy with normal intakes.
Interactions e.g. with other medications Penicillamine, Trientine, and large doses of Zinc and Iron may reduce absorption of copper and vice versa – give 2 hours apart.

Vitamin C in large doses (> 1 g daily) may reduce copper status.

Copper may reduce the absorption of ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

Copper may enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).2,4

Adverse effects In excessive doses copper is toxic and can lead to nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, jaundice and metallic taste.
References 1 Manual of Nutrition 12th Ed., Dept. of Health, June 2012.

2 Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.

3 Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.

4 Gaby, A. R. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. HealthNotes 2006.