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Nutrition Resources

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Copper


Nutrient description/background:
  • An essential trace mineral found in animal and human nutrition;
  • In gram amounts, copper is extremely toxic.

Nutrient function:
  • Absorbed in the small intestine and a small amount is absorbed in the stomach;
  • The body needs copper for normal growth and health;
  • Needed to help the body use iron;
  • Important for nerve function, bone growth and to help the body use sugar.

DRI/RDA:
  • Adolescent and adult males: 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams per day;
  • Adolescent and adult females: 1.5 to 3 milligrams per day;
  • Some conditions may increase the body's need for copper such as burns, diarrhea, intestine disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, surgical removal of the stomach and stress (continuing);

Food sources:
  • Organ meats (especially liver), seafood, beans, nuts and whole grains;
  • Additional copper can come from drinking water from copper pipes, using copper cookware and eating farm products that have been sprayed with copper-containing chemicals;
  • May be decreased in foods that have high acid content or that are stored in tin cans for extended periods of time;
  • The richest food sources come from nuts, seeds, legumes, the bran and germ portions of grains, oysters and crustaceans.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Copper supplements are effective in the treatment of arthritis or skin conditions;
  • In a study concerning middle-aged people, copper was found to protect red blood cells against oxidation;
  • Copper bracelets have been worn to ameliorate symptoms of arthritis;
  • Copper complexes of aspirin, tryptophan and penicillamine have anti-inflammatory effects.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • In the study concerning red blood cells, evidence did not show increased copper/zinc superoxide activity with copper supplementations; the mechanism of the possible antioxidant activity is unclear.
  • There was evidence that copper from the bracelets dissolved in sweat and was reabsorbed through the skin.
  • More research is needed to prove most common health claims of copper.