Copper Nutrition Guide: Best Food Sources, Absorption, Deficiency, Types + Supplements

Copper Nutrition Guide: Best Food Sources, Absorption, Deficiency, Types + Supplements

Copper is a naturally occurring metal found in soil, water and rocks. In its nutritional form, it is an essential trace mineral found in some foods and supplements. Our bodies use copper for a variety of important functions including the production of energy, tissue and blood vessels. 

In this blog post, you will learn:

👉🏼 What is copper + what role does it play in the body?

👉🏼 What are the best food sources of copper?

👉🏼 How much copper should you consume each day?

👉🏼 What can help improve copper absorption – and what decreases absorption?

👉🏼 Who is at risk of copper deficiency?

👉🏼 When should you consider copper supplementation?

👉🏼 What are the different types of copper supplements – and which one is right for you?

Are you worried about nutritional deficiencies? Are you looking to optimise your diet and transform your health? Head to Consultations to see how I can help you start your journey to the healthiest version of yourself today!

What is copper?

We all need copper to stay healthy. It works to assist functions and enzymes that produce energy for the body, break down and absorb iron, build red blood cells and collagen.  Copper also supports normal brain development and immune function, and is part of a ‘fighting’ antioxidant enzyme that works to dismantle harmful substances called ‘free radicals.’

What are the best food sources of copper?

Copper is found in the highest quantities in protein foods like organ meats. These include beef liver, shellfish like oysters and crab, fish such as salmon and other foods such as cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds, chickpeas, potatoes, avocados, spinach, tofu, wholegrains and dark chocolate.

How much copper should we consume a day?

The UK recommended daily allowance (RDA) for copper is 1.2mg (for adults) which most people should be able to get from their diet. 

How can we maximise copper absorption?

Proteins and soluble carbohydrates tend to improve copper absorption by enhancing its solubility for intestinal flow – in other words, we digest and absorb it better. A well-balanced and healthy diet can ensure you are consuming enough copper and supporting its natural absorption. 

Interestingly, the absorption of copper in the body will increase if the diet contains less copper, and decrease if the body has enough copper – our bodies are so clever, aren’t they? As so many enzymes utilise copper throughout the body, an excess or deficiency may interrupt these normal processes, so a stable level is required for optimal health. 

Who is at risk of copper deficiency?

Most people get enough copper in their daily diet. However, certain groups of people might be predisposed or more likely to be at risk of a copper deficiency. This could be:

  • People with coeliac disease
  • People with Menkes disease, a rare genetic disorder
  • People taking high doses of zinc supplements, which can interfere with the ability to absorb copper and could lead to copper deficiency
  • Those who do not consume enough copper may eventually lead to deficiency

Should you consider a copper supplement?

Theoretically, copper deficiency is rare if you have a healthy, balanced diet and are not at risk of deficiency (as listed above). Copper supplements are therefore not usually necessary and may lead to an imbalance of other minerals in the body. If you are considering a copper supplement, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional first. 

What should you look for in a copper supplement?

Copper supplements can come in various forms, including copper gluconate, copper sulfate, and copper chelate. Copper gluconate and copper chelate are considered to be the most bioavailable forms, meaning they are easily absorbed and utilised by the body. 

Getting too much copper on a regular basis can also cause problems such as liver damage, abdominal pain, cramps and nausea so please consult a healthcare professional before taking any copper supplements. 

Everyone’s nutritional requirements will be different, which is why I take a personalised approach with all of my 1:1 clients and tailor each nutrition plan (and supplement recommendation) to their unique needs and goals.

This is just a small insight into the types of things I discuss with my 1:1 clients. If you’re looking to optimise your nutrition, transform your health and elevate your quality of life, please get in contact via Consultations or book a FREE 15-minute call and let’s chat about how I can help. 

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Check out my other nutrition-related blog posts below: