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In humans, copper is essential to the proper functioning of many organs and metabolic processes. Copper is incorporated into a variety of proteins and metalloenzymes, which perform essential metabolic functions.

Copper is necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other body organs.

Copper is involved in the formation of red blood cells, the absorption and utilization of iron, the metabolism of cholesterol and glucose, and the synthesis and release of life-sustaining proteins and enzymes, which produce cellular energy and regulate nerve transmission, blood clotting, and oxygen transport.

Copper stimulates the immune system to fight infections, to repair injured tissues, and to promote healing. Copper also helps to neutralize "free-radicals", which can cause severe oxidative damage to cells.

In addition copper is essential for the normal growth and development of human fetuses, infants, and children.


The best dietary sources include shellfish, liver, whole grains (wheat and rye), beans, lentils and chocolate.

Nuts, including peanuts and pecans, are rich in copper, as are several fruits including lemons and raisins.

Other food sources that contain copper are cereals, potatoes, peas, red meat, mushrooms, kale, coconuts, papaya and apples.  

Daily intake

For adults the recommended daily intake is 0.9 mg. The recommended intake for pregnant women is 1 mg/day and for lactating women it is 1.3 mg/day. Here is a list of foods having the highest content of copper.


Copper is ubiquitous and the daily requirement is low. Therefore copper deficiency is very rarecopper deficiency is very rare.

Eating a balanced diet with a range of foods from different food groups is the best way to avoid copper deficiency.


The maximum tolerable intake is 10 mg/day.

Acute symptoms of copper poisoning by ingestion include vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding and distress, low blood pressure, jaundice and coma.

Chronic (long-term) effects of copper exposure can damage the liver and kidneys.

References: 1 , 2 , 3

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