Copper is an essential trace mineral, which plays a role in the formation of connective tissue.

What are its health benefits?

Copper uses include the development and performance of your nervous, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. There is a strong link between copper and health. You need only small amounts of it, but copper is just as important as the more popular minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc.

Present in our bodies from conception, it helps form our hearts, skeletal and nervous systems, as well as arteries and blood vessels. It continues to play a vital role as we age. Copper benefits for skin, hair and bones are also significant.

Copper and zinc compete for uptake in the body, so a high copper intake reduces zinc absorption and vice versa. Experts recommend a ratio of seven parts by weight zinc to one part copper for a healthy balance.

Do you have a deficiency?

While a copper deficiency is rare, warning signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin sores
  • Changes in hair texture
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin)
  • Anaemia (a condition where your blood can’t carry enough oxygen to meet the needs of your body)
  • Neutropenia (a condition of an abnormally low number of white blood cells called neutrophils)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Paleness
  • Hair with less pigment than normal

A diet low in copper can cause significant detrimental effects to antioxidant enzymes. Over time, this can have serious adverse effects.

Find it in these foods

The copper benefits in diet are enormous, and copper-rich foods are the best way to get your recommended allowance. These include:

  • Leafy greens including Swiss chard and kale 
  • Nuts (especially cashews)
  • Asparagus
  • Seeds (such as poppy, sunflower and sesame)
  • Chickpeas
  • Liver
  • Oysters
  • Wheat-bran cereals

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

A typical dosage for an adult is 2mg.

The general guidelines for the recommended daily dosage, according to your age group, is:

  • 0-6 months: 0.2 mg
  • 6-12 months: 0.22 mg
  • 1-3 years: 0.34 mg
  • 4-8 years: 0.4 mg
  • 9-13 years: 0.7 mg
  • 14-18 years: 0.89 mg
  • 19+ years: 0.9 mg
  • Pregnant women: 1.0 mg
  • Lactating women: 1.3 mg

However, consult with your doctor or Clicks pharmacist first regarding the right dosage of daily oral supplements. 

Know the overdose risks

Too much can cause copper poisoning, which includes nausea, vomiting, abdominal and muscle pain.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015