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Copper (CU) is a mineral which can easily be taken in excess, although it is essential for normal functioning. The average adult has 60 - 110 mg of copper in the body. The liver controls copper storage and any excess is excreted via the bile, though if your copper intake increases so does the amount that you store.

What are the functions of copper?

Copper is a trace mineral that:

What are the symptoms of a copper deficiency?

Some of the symptoms of a copper deficiency include:

Food sources of copper

The following foods are a good source of copper: avocados, livers, kidneys, molasses, whole grains, shellfish, oysters, nuts, fruit and legumes.


Copper appears in many good multivitamin and mineral supplements and could be taken alone up to 3 mg daily. Optimum doses are between 1 and 2 mg daily.

Special notes

Intakes in excess of 10 mg can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscular pain, depression, irritability, nervousness and dementia.

Toxicity is low and very rare.

Zinc and copper should not be taken at the same time (take then some hours apart) unless in the form of a well balanced multivitamin and mineral supplement.

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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About 30% of the copper we eat is absorbed, and a typical dietary intake of copper is 2-5mg. This means that the daily absorption is between 0.1 - 1.6 mg.