It was in the 1870’s that copper was first recognized to have an important part in the metabolism of a person. Copper is the third most abundant mineral in the body, coming after iron and zinc. It is present in small amounts all throughout the body but its major storage is in the liver.
Copper has an important part in the utilization of iron, free radical elimination, bone and tissue development, and in the production of melanin.
Insufficient amounts of copper in the body can lead to several manifestations like anemia, osteoporosis, poor immune system function, poor thyroid functions, irregular heartbeat, hypopigmentation, decreased white blood cells, and low body temperature. During pregnancy, the deficiency may result in birth defects.
The following are food sources from which one can obtain copper.
Beef is an excellent food source for copper. Cooked beef liver has the most abundant copper, furnishing 3,830 mcg of copper per three ounces serving. Three ounces of beef chuck roast provides 140 mcg of copper, and three ounces of broiled ground beef supplies 70 mcg of copper.
Cooked oysters, about 3 ounces, supplies about 640 mcg of copper.
Refried beans from cans, about 1 cup, provides 420 mcg of copper. One cup of baked beans furnishes 520 mcg.
One medium baked potato provides about 200 mcg of copper, while medium baked sweet potato supplies about 240 mcg.
Other Foods Rich in Copper
1 ounce Bran cereal, 100%: 270 mcg of copper
1 ounce oil roasted sunflower seeds: 510 mcg
1/2 cup cooked mushrooms: 390 mcg
1 cup soy milk: 350 mcg
1/2 cup tofu: 300 mcg
1 cup raw casava: 210 mcg
There are more good sources of foods rich in copper. These include kiwi fruits, beets, raspberries, onions, cashew, tomato, strawberries, prunes, pear, almonds, garlic, avocado, and pineapple.
Recommended Dietary Requirement for Copper
The daily requirement for copper varies with age. These are the daily recommended allowance for copper intake in children and in adults as given by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.
Newborns up to 6 months: 200 mcg
7 months up to 12 months: 220 mcg
1 to 3 years old: 340 mcg
4 to 8 years old: 440 mcg
9 to 13 years old: 700 mcg
14 to 18 years old: 890 mcg
19 years old and older: 900 mcg
Pregnant women: 1,000 mcg
Breatfeeding mothers: 1,300 mcg
Notes: Children should obtain copper from the different food sources that they eat. Copper supplements are not recommended to be given to children. Adults who are taking supplements for copper should also take in zinc supplements, because imbalance of copper and zinc may lead to other health conditions.
For more information about the dietary value of copper, please read “The Health Benefits of Copper.”
EDIS: Facts about Copper