Understand copper and copper targets in the Nutrient Explorer

What it is

Copper is an essential mineral.

What it does

Copper is a cofactor for several important enzymes. Some of those enzymes that rely on copper are involved in iron metabolism and the synthesis of neurotransmitters and connective tissue.

Recommended intake

The recommended intake for copper is 1600mcg per day for men and 1300mcg per day for women who aren’t pregnant or lactating. Pregnancy and lactation can increase intake requirements for copper.

The safe upper limit for copper intake is 10000mcg (10mg) per day.

Likelihood of tracking completeness: Very low

Copper is not a nutrient that food manufacturers are required to disclose on nutrition labels. The vast majority of food and beverage manufacturers do not voluntarily list copper content on nutrition labels, so most branded products in the MacroFactor database lack information on copper. So, if you’d like to accurately track your copper intake, you’ll need to make a point of mostly tracking “common foods,” which come from research-grade databases that have full nutrient reporting.

For more on when you can track using branded foods versus common foods when you’re trying to accurately monitor your intake of particular nutrients, you should check out this article.

Likelihood of insufficient intake: Low

Most people in developed countries consume adequate amounts of copper. However, people with celiac disease and people who take high-dose zinc supplements may be at greater risk of copper inadequacy.

For more on nutrients with a greater likelihood of insufficient or excessive intake, you should check out this article.

Signs of deficiency

Copper deficiency is rare, but it can cause anemia, decreases in skin pigmentation, high cholesterol, decreases in bone and connective tissue health, poor motor control, and an increased risk of infection.

Good sources

Good sources of dietary copper include shellfish, liver, mushrooms, soy products, cocoa powder, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, and beans.

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about micronutrients generally, there’s a five-part series on the MacroFactor website you might enjoy.

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