Health Illustrated Encyclopedia

Copper in diet

Definition

Copper is an essential trace mineral present in all body tissues.

Alternative Names

Diet - copper

Function

Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.

Food Sources

Oysters and other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats (kidneys, liver) are good sources of copper. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits such as prunes, cocoa, black pepper, and yeast are also sources of copper in the diet.

Side Effects

Normally people have enough copper in the foods they eat. Menkes disease (kinky hair syndrome) is a very rare disorder of copper metabolism that is present before birth. It occurs in male infants.

Lack of copper may lead to anemia and osteoporosis.

In large amounts, copper is poisonous. A rare inherited disorder, Wilson's disease, causes deposits of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. The increased copper in these tissues leads to hepatitis, kidney problems, brain disorders, and other problems.

Recommendations

The Food and Nutrition Center of the Institute of Medicine has established the following recommended dietary intakes for copper:

Infants

  • 0 - 6 months: 200 micrograms a day (mcg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 220 mcg/day

Children

  • 1 - 3 years: 340 mcg/day
  • 4 - 8 years: 440 mcg/day
  • 9 - 13 years: 700 mcg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • 14 - 18 years: 890 mcg/day
  • 19 and older: 900 mcg/day

Pregnant and lactating (milk-producing) women need slightly higher amounts (1000 mcg during pregnancy and 1300 mcg during lactation). Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

References

Trumbo P, Yates AA, Schlicker S, Poos M. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies. Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Mar;101(3):294-301.


Provided by adam.com

Review Date: 3/2/2007
Reviewed By: William McGee, M.D., M.H.A., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and Chairman, Nutrition Committee, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA. and Alice O'Connor, MS, RD, LDN, CNSD, Clinical Dietitian, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.