Copper is an essential trace mineral responsible for a variety of enzymatic reactions in the body.* Copper in sebacate salt form has been shown to restore the function of the copper enzymes tyrosinase, lysyl oxidase, and ceruloplasmin.* Copper deficiency is uncommon because copper occurs naturally in many foods, and most of the earth’s surface and ground water used for drinking contains small amounts of copper. Copper water pipes and copper cookware are also sources of dietary copper. The absorption and utilization of copper can be hindered by elevated intakes of copper antagonists such as zinc, iron, vitamin C, and fructose sweeteners.
Copper is a mineral. It is found in foods such as organ meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, grain products, and cocoa products. The body stores copper mostly in the bones and muscles. The liver regulates the amount of copper that is in the blood. Copper is used as medicine.
Copper is most commonly used for treating copper deficiency and the anemia it may cause. Having too little copper (copper deficiency) is very rare. It sometimes occurs in people who get too much zinc from diet or supplements, have intestinal bypass surgery, or are fed by feeding tubes. Malnourished infants can also have copper deficiency.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
- Copper deficiency. Taking copper by mouth at recommended levels or given intravenously (by IV) by a healthcare provider is effective for treating copper deficiency and anemia caused by copper deficiency.
- Alzheimer disease. Research suggests that taking copper by mouth daily for 12 months does not improve symptoms of Alzheimer disease. Some people with Alzheimer disease have more copper in their blood than people without the disease. It’s too early to know if copper could be making the disease worse.
- Diarrhea. Young children with severe diarrhea due to a gut infection do not seem to be helped by taking copper.
- An autoimmune disease that causes widespread swelling (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE). People with higher levels of copper in the body don’t seem to have a lower risk of SLE. Taking copper also doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of SLE.
- Acne. Early research suggests that taking a product containing copper and several other ingredients might reduce a severe form of acne.
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Compression stockings infused with copper are sometimes used for CVI. But compression stockings infused with copper don’t seem to work better than those without copper.
- Tooth plaque. Early research suggests that rinsing the mouth with a copper solution decreases plaque.
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
- Heart disease.
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of copper for these uses.
Copper is involved in many of the natural processes in the body.
When taken by mouth: Copper is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts no greater than 10 mg daily. Copper is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts. Adults should avoid using more than 10 mg of copper per day. Kidney failure and death can occur with as little as 1 gram of copper sulfate. Symptoms of copper overdose include nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, low blood pressure, anemia, and heart problems.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Copper is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should consume no more than 8 mg daily per day if they are 14-18 years old, and no more than 10 mg daily per day if they are 19 years or older. Taking copper by mouth in higher doses is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Higher amounts can be dangerous.
Children: Copper is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Children should not get more than the Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) of copper. The UL is 1 mg daily for children 1-3 years, 3 mg daily for children 4-8 years, 5 mg daily for children 9-13 years, and 8 mg daily for adolescents. Taking copper by mouth in higher doses is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Higher intake can be dangerous.
Hemodialysis: People receiving hemodialysis for kidney disease seem to be at risk for copper deficiency. You might need copper supplements if you are undergoing hemodialysis. Check with your healthcare provider.
Certain hereditary conditions, including idiopathic copper toxicosis and childhood cirrhosis: Taking extra copper might make these conditions worse.
Wilson’s disease: Taking copper supplements can make this condition worse and might interfere with treatment.
Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen)
Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Penicillamine is used for Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Copper might decrease how much penicillamine your body absorbs and decrease the effectiveness of penicillamine.
Iron: In infants, high iron concentrations in formula might reduce absorption of copper and lower the amount of copper in the body. Copper absorption does not seem to be decreased in breastfeeding infants given iron supplements. In adults, copper might reduce iron absorption, but probably only at very high copper doses.
Vitamin C: Large amounts of vitamin C can interfere with the way the body transports and uses copper. But this probably isn’t important to health unless dietary copper intake is low.
Zinc: Large amounts of zinc can reduce the amount of copper that the body absorbs and might even lead to copper deficiency. But it is unlikely that normal supplemental doses of zinc would affect copper levels.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For copper deficiency: doses up to 0.1 mg/kg of copper as cupric sulfate per day.
The National Institute of Medicine has determined Adequate Intake (AI) of copper for infants: 0 to 6 months, 200 mcg (30 mcg/kg/day); 7 to 12 months, 220 mcg (24 mcg/kg/day). Infants should get all their copper from food or formula, unless a healthcare provider recommends supplements and provides follow-up care and monitoring.
For children, a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of copper has been set: 1 to 3 years, 340 mcg/day; 4 to 8 years, 440 mcg/day; 9 to 13, 700 mcg/day; 14 to 18 years, 890 mcg/day.
For men and women age 19 years and older, the RDA of copper is 900 mcg/day.
For pregnancy, the RDA is 1000 mcg/day, and breast feeding 1300 mcg/day for women of all ages.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), the maximum amount for which no harmful effect is expected, has been established for children and adults. The ULs for copper are: children 1 to 3 years, 1 mg/day; 4 to 8 years, 3 mg/day; 9 to 13 years, 5 mg/day; 14 to 18 years (including pregnancy and lactation) 8 mg/day; adults age 19 and older (including breast feeding), 10 mg/day; pregnancy age 19 and older, 8 mg/day.
- For copper deficiency: Healthcare providers give copper intravenously (by IV).
Atomic number 29, Citrate de Cuivre, Cobre, Copper Citrate, Copper Gluconate, Copper Sulfate, Cu, Cuivre, Cuivre Élémentaire, Cupric Oxide, Cupric Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate Pentahydrate, Cuprum Aceticum, Cuprum Metallicum, Elemental Copper, Gluconate de Cuivre, Numéro Atomique 29, Oxyde Cuivrique, Pentahydrate de Sulfate de Cuivre, Sulfate de Cuivre, Sulfate Cuivrique, Sulfate Cuprique.
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