The maximum safe dosage of copper is 10 mg. But, healthy people need only 0.9 mg of copper a day. We can easily get this dose from a well-balanced, plant-based diet.
Health benefits of copper
Copper is an essential mineral. It’s necessary for good health, and it’s naturally present in certain foods.
First, copper is important for our health because it’s a cofactor for several enzymes.
Copper is involved in energy production, mineralization of bones, and iron absorption.[1,2,3]
Also, copper plays a key role in the synthesis of connective tissue and neurotransmitters. Additionally, it’s essential for the proper action of enzymes involving in melatonin production and wound healing.
Moreover, copper is crucial for the regulation of gene expression, brain development, and the proper function of the immune system.
For instance, copper plays a key role against oxidative damage, mainly due to the copper-containing enzyme superoxide dismutase, which neutralizes free radicals. This enzyme is a powerful antioxidant. It has potential therapeutic properties against diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, and even certain cancers.
Furthermore, copper involves in blood coagulation, blood pressure control, and the synthesis of many hormones.
Last, but not least, copper affects lipid, glucose and cholesterol metabolism.
The recommended daily intake of copper
Both men and women need 0.9 mg of copper a day. Only pregnant and lactating women need higher doses of 1.3 mg a day. Teens and kids have slightly lower needs.
We have to get copper every day. Ideally from food. Our bodies can store only small amounts of copper. In fact, we have only 50–120 mg of copper in our bodies. Two-thirds of the body’s copper is stored in the skeleton and muscle mass.
What’s the maximum safe dosage of copper?
The maximum safe dosage of copper is 10 mg! Only people who take copper supplements for medical reasons, under the supervision of their physician, can get higher doses.
Most supplements contain up to 5 mg of copper per serving. Hence, taking copper supplements is considered pretty safe! Most people can get enough copper from a well-balanced diet, though.
In case you want to boost your copper intake, you can find a wide variety of copper supplement at best prices on iHerb.
Certainly, you should consult your healthcare provider for the ideal copper dosage for you.
In fact, copper toxicity may occur due to the consumption of water containing high levels of copper. Not from supplements. Plumbing containing copper may allow copper to leach into water.
Hence, the Environmental Protection Agency has established a safe upper limit for copper in water of 1.3 mg/L.
Side effects of too much copper
Certainly, copper toxicity is rare. But, chronic exposure to high levels of copper may cause side effects such as abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Moreover, high concentrations of copper in the body may lead to obesity. Both in children and adults! Thus, high chronic doses of copper may promote fat accumulation, making it difficult to lose weight. In contrast, healthy concentrations of copper promote weight loss.[5,6]
Do you need copper supplements?
A healthy, well-balanced diet provides more than enough copper. So, healthy people probably don’t need to take copper supplements.
Actually, typical diets in the United States easily meet the daily recommended dose of copper. It’s estimated that the standard American diet provides approximately 1.4 mg and 1.1 mg of copper a day, for men and women, respectively.
People who follow a poor diet or people with health problems may benefit from taking high doses of copper from supplements. For instance, copper deficient people may suffer from osteoporosis. In this case, high dosages of copper may be beneficial.
Moreover, you should be very cautious if you take zinc supplements. High doses of zinc can lead to copper deficiency. Zinc can interfere with copper absorption. High zinc doses of 60 mg a day can cause copper deficiency. Hence, you shouldn’t exceed the maximum safe dose of zinc.
Always consult your health provider before taking any supplements or changing your diet.
Animal-based foods high in copper
Certainly, we can boost our daily intake of copper by consuming many foods with copper. Actually, we absorb most copper from natural sources. The bioavailability of copper is between 12-75%. It significantly depends on the consumed amount. Higher consumed doses of copper lead to decreased absorption rates.
The richest food in copper is beef liver. It has about 14.6 mg of copper per 100g, or 146% of the maximum recommended daily dose!
Other foods high in copper from animal sources are oysters and lobster. Salmon, shrimps and tuna contain moderate amounts as well. But, following a healthy, plant-based diet is the easiest way to get high doses of copper.
Common vegan foods high in copper
Actually, plants are the best dietary sources of copper. Mushrooms, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even chocolate are particularly high in copper.
Also, spirulina powder is particularly rich in copper. Just a tsp contains 0.43 mg of copper, or almost 50% of the daily recommended intake!
Consuming 1–2 handfuls of seeds and nuts is also an easy way to boost your daily intake of copper.
Dried Shiitake mushrooms and dark chocolate provide high doses of copper as well.
|foods high in copper||mg/100g||foods with moderate |
amounts of copper
|Shiitake mushrooms, dried||5.16||portabellos||0.39|
70-85% cacao solids
|Brazil nuts||1.74||bread, whole wheat||0.23|
|pumpkin seeds||1.34||bread, rye||0.19|
|peanut butter||0.58||bread, wheat||0.15|
|white mushrooms||0.5||Shiitake mushrooms, raw||0.14|
Although there are so many foods high in copper, bread, potatoes, and tomatoes are the main sources of copper by U.S. adults! People consume them in large amounts.
Finally, tap water may also provide significant amounts of copper, depending on the region.