Eat Your Way to More Copper: 28 Foods to Add to Your Diet

Eat Your Way to More Copper: 28 Foods to Add to Your Diet

Copper is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, maintenance of healthy bones, and proper functioning of the immune system. Despite its importance, many people fail to consume enough copper in their diets. If you're wondering whether you're getting enough copper, don't worry – we've got you covered. In this post, we discuss the importance of copper and provide a list of the top 28 foods high in copper to help you maintain optimal health. From nuts and seeds to seafood and chocolate, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious options to choose from. So, let's get started and make sure you're getting enough copper in your diet!

Copper: An Essential Element for Human Health

Our bodies require a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals to function optimally, and copper is one of the lesser-known trace minerals that is crucial for our health. While copper is present in all our body tissues, our bodies cannot produce it, so it is essential to obtain it from our diet. Copper plays a vital role in various physiological processes, such as the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of healthy connective tissues. The World Health Organization recommends that an average adult should consume approximately 2mg of copper per day, which is equivalent to 2,000mcg of copper. Good dietary sources of copper include seafood, nuts, whole grains, and dark leafy greens. While copper deficiency is rare, it can occur in individuals who have malabsorption disorders or those who consume diets that are low in copper-rich foods. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you get enough copper in your diet to maintain good health.

Copper is an essential trace mineral that the body needs in small amounts for a range of physiological processes. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily intake of 900mcg of copper for adults, with higher amounts for pregnant and lactating women. Copper plays a crucial role in iron metabolism, neuroendocrine function, immunity, and cell renewal, making it an important mineral for overall health. Adequate copper intake has been linked to improved cognitive function, a healthy immune system, and strong bones. Additionally, copper is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the body against free radical damage. To increase your intake of copper, try adding more copper-rich foods to your diet, such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and shellfish.

Functions of Dietary Copper
  • Boosting Brain Power

Did you know that copper is considered a brain food? It's not just essential for bodily function but is also present throughout the brain. Copper is found in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebellum, synaptic membranes, and in the cell bodies of cortical pyramidal and cerebellar granular neurons. This vital mineral also serves as a cofactor for enzymes required for proper bodily function. Foods high in copper include seafood, organ meats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Consuming these foods can help ensure that your brain receives adequate amounts of copper, which is vital for cognitive function and overall brain health. So, next time you're looking to improve your brain health, consider adding some copper-rich foods to your diet.

Copper is an essential mineral for overall health, especially for maintaining a healthy brain. Recent studies have shown that copper plays a crucial role in brain health even during rest. As the brain consumes 20% of the oxygen taken in through respiration, its oxidative metabolism requires the body's highest levels of copper, iron, and zinc. Copper has been traditionally considered a static metabolic cofactor buried within enzymes to protect against the generation of reactive oxygen species and subsequent free radical damage. However, recent research from Berkeley Lab's Chemical Sciences Division has revealed that dynamic and loosely bound pools of copper can modulate neural activity and are essential for the normal development of synapses and circuits. Therefore, it's essential to ensure you are consuming copper regularly to maintain a healthy brain.

  • Boosting Energy Efficiency

Copper is an essential trace element required by the body for various biological functions, including the production of energy. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the energy currency of the cell, and copper plays a crucial role in its production. Studies have shown that inadequate copper can limit the mitochondria's production of ATP, leading to fatigue. Animal and lab studies have demonstrated the relationship between copper deficiency and reduced ATP production, causing fatigue in subjects. Therefore, it's essential to maintain adequate copper levels in the body to support the production of ATP and prevent fatigue. Incorporating copper-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and seafood in your diet can help meet your daily copper requirements.

Copper is an essential micronutrient required for several biological processes in the body. Recently, researchers made a fascinating discovery about how copper is transported to mitochondria, which sheds light on its critical role in energy production. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and copper is necessary for building cytochrome c oxidase (COX), a protein complex in mitochondria that plays a crucial role in the electron transport chain. This chain is responsible for harvesting energy for the production of ATP, the energy currency of the cell. With this new understanding, researchers can develop new strategies for treating copper-related disorders and improving mitochondrial function, potentially leading to better health outcomes for patients.

  • Enhances Your Natural Immunity

Zinc and copper are two trace minerals that play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system. A deficiency in either of these minerals can lead to increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. Copper, for instance, has been shown to play a vital role in the activation of immune cells such as neutrophils and macrophages. A lack of copper can result in decreased production of these immune cells, which can make it harder for the body to fight off infections. Similarly, zinc deficiency has been linked to a weakened immune system and increased risk of infection. Therefore, it is essential to maintain adequate levels of both zinc and copper in the body to support optimal immune function. A balanced and varied diet rich in foods such as nuts, seeds, seafood, and whole grains can help ensure you are getting the necessary levels of these essential trace minerals.

Our bodies are equipped with an innate immune system that works tirelessly to defend us against foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This smart system comprises cells and proteins that are specifically designed to recognize and eliminate these threats. The first line of defense against these invaders is the epithelial cells, which act as a physical barrier. However, if these cells are breached, neutrophils and macrophages come to the rescue, mounting an attack against the infection. Interestingly, research has shown that a mild copper deficiency can lead to a decrease in circulating neutrophils, and impaired neutrophil function. Copper is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various physiological processes, including the functioning of the immune system. Therefore, ensuring an adequate intake of copper is essential for a healthy immune system and overall health.

  • Increases Metabolic Rate

Copper is a crucial mineral for our health and well-being. Recent research by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California has found that copper not only supports brain function and immunity, but it also regulates lipolysis, the breakdown of fat in the body. The study discovered that copper binds to an enzyme called PDE3, which plays a vital role in the breakdown of fat. Without copper, PDE3 cannot bind to cyclic AMP, a messenger that facilitates the breakdown of fat. This finding highlights the importance of getting the recommended daily intake of copper in our diets to maintain a healthy body weight and energy stores. So, make sure to include copper-rich foods in your diet such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and shellfish.

  • Shielding the Cardiovascular System

Copper is a vital mineral that plays an essential role in maintaining good health, especially for the heart. Despite being required in low amounts, hundreds of copper-dependent proteins exist in the body. A deficiency in copper can negatively impact the heart's metabolism and energy supply, increasing the risk of ischaemic heart disease. However, consuming foods rich in copper can have positive effects on an ailing heart. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine showed that an increase in dietary copper intake can help people with heart muscle conditions. Therefore, incorporating copper-rich foods into your diet can have a significant impact on your overall heart health.

  • Beauty from Within: Nourishing Your Skin for a Healthy Glow

Copper is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. A healthy adult would have a composition including 110mg of copper, with 15% of that amount found in the skin. Copper helps stimulate dermal fibroblasts proliferation, which leads to increased collagen production, making the skin more firm and elastic. In addition, it regulates collagen, which is a crucial structural protein that provides strength and support to the skin. Copper also serves as a cofactor of the skin antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, which helps protect the skin from damage caused by harmful free radicals. Furthermore, copper inhibits cellular oxidative effects such as membrane damage and lipid peroxidation, thus promoting healthy skin. The many properties of copper have made it an important mineral for maintaining healthy skin, and it is important to ensure that we consume enough of it through our diet or supplements.

Nourish Your Body with These Top 28 Copper-Rich Foods

Copper is an essential nutrient that your body cannot produce on its own. To maintain optimal levels of copper, it's important to obtain it from the food you eat. Here are 28 of the best food sources of copper that you can include in your diet. By checking your diet and ensuring that you regularly consume these foods, you can ensure that you are getting enough copper to support your body's needs.

  • Oysters, Crab, Lobster and Fish

Copper rich sea foods

Copper is abundant in seafood, particularly oysters, and a medium-sized oyster can provide 670mcg of copper. The Eastern oyster has the highest natural concentration of copper, with a 3-ounce serving of cooked Eastern oysters providing 4,851mcg of copper. It's important to note that oysters should not be breaded or fried, as this can decrease copper absorption and affect their nutritional content.

Crabs are a nutritious food option that is high in protein and low in fat. They are also a great source of copper, with a 3-ounce serving providing 585mcg of this essential mineral. Whether served alone or as an addition to a soup or bisque, crabs are an excellent way to incorporate copper into your diet.

Lobster is a great source of copper, with a 3-ounce serving providing around 400mcg of the mineral. Despite being low in fat and high in protein, it's important to consume lobster in moderation due to its significant amount of dietary cholesterol.

To boost your copper intake without relying on shelled seafood, consider incorporating fish into your diet, especially salmon and tuna. Both of these types of fish are good sources of copper, which is an essential mineral that supports various bodily functions. By increasing your consumption of fish, you can ensure that you are meeting your daily copper requirements and maintaining optimal health.

  • Organ Meat

Organ meat

Beef liver is the richest known source of copper in the diet, containing 4,000mcg of copper in each ounce. Other organs such as beef heart and kidneys are also high in copper. Different types of liver vary in copper content, with calf liver containing twice as much as beef liver, and beef liver having three times more copper than hog liver. Additionally, other organ meats, including the tongue, tripe, kidneys, and heart, are packed with nutrients, including copper.

  • Seeds and Nuts 


For vegetarians, copper can be obtained from nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds and cashews are particularly high in copper, with 519mcg and 629mcg per 1-ounce serving, respectively. Eating chunky peanut butter can also provide up to 185mcg of copper per every two tablespoons.

To increase copper intake, try snacking on almonds and hazelnuts. Whole almonds can provide 1,000mcg of copper per 100 gram serving. Poppy seeds are also a good source, with a 100 gram pack containing 1,700mcg of copper.

  • Beans


Beans are an excellent vegetarian source of copper, in addition to seeds and nuts. Chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, and white beans are all great options to include in your meals. Cooked chickpeas can provide 305mcg of copper per 100 grams, while sprouted lentils can provide 271mcg of copper per 100 grams. Pinto beans and white beans both offer 1,000mcg of copper for every 100 gram serving. Incorporating these beans into your diet can help ensure that you are getting enough copper.

  • Kale, Swiss Chard and Spinach

Kale, Swiss Chard and Spinach

Some vegetables are rich in copper, such as raw kale which contains 1,409mcg of copper per 100 grams. It's better to consume raw kale instead of frozen kale, which only has 46mcg of copper per 100 grams. Cooked Swiss chard can also provide over one third of your daily dietary intake of copper.

Spinach is a highly nutritious leafy green that can be consumed either fresh or cooked. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and folate, while being low in calories. Additionally, spinach is an abundant source of copper, with one cup of cooked spinach providing over 300mcg of copper. 

Asparagus and parsley are other vegetables that are rich in copper and can be included in your diet to increase your copper intake.

  • Potato Skins


Potatoes and sweet potatoes are high-copper vegetables, with 900mcg of copper per 100 grams of potato. The majority of copper in potatoes is found in the skin, so it's important to cook them with their skins still on. The same is true for sweet potatoes. In fact, 300mcg of copper is found in the skin alone.

  • Avocados


Avocados are known to be a nutrient-dense food, and it may not come as a surprise that they are also high in copper. Consuming just one avocado can give you around 400mcg of copper, making it a great source of this essential mineral.

  • Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are prized for their distinctive taste and texture, which is smoky and rich. They are said to have ten times more flavor than regular button mushrooms. Besides their excellent flavor, shiitake mushrooms have long been used for their numerous health benefits, which were recognized in ancient medicine. These mushrooms are a great source of dietary copper, with half a cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms providing 650mcg of copper, which is 72% of the recommended daily intake.

  • Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are a great addition to pasta, salad, or pizza, as they are not only delicious but also rich in nutrients. One cup of sun-dried tomatoes contains 768mcg of copper, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron. To ensure the best quality, it is recommended to purchase organic and unsalted varieties from your local market or health food shop, and avoid those packed in oil, which can be low in nutrients.

  • Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a highly nutritious type of chocolate that is rich in copper, iron, and zinc. Consuming a 3-ounce bar of dark chocolate can provide you with 750mcg of copper. Studies have shown that dark chocolate is the main source of copper intake in the American diet. However, it's important to consume chocolate in moderation and choose options that are low in fat and sugar to avoid any negative effects on health.

  • Quinoa


Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that offers numerous health benefits. It makes for an excellent substitute for rice and is a rich source of copper. Consuming 100 grams of cooked quinoa can provide you with 192 mcg of copper, which is an essential mineral for your body. You can enhance your daily copper intake by pairing quinoa with other foods that are high in copper, such as seafood and liver, to create a well-rounded and tasty meal.

  • Buckwheat


For a gluten-free alternative to traditional oats in your porridge, try using buckwheat instead. Buckwheat is not a grain and can provide a tasty and nutritious option. One cup of cooked buckwheat contains 0.25mg of copper, making it a good source of this essential mineral. To add more copper to your meal, consider stir-frying buckwheat with dark, leafy vegetables, which are also high in copper.

  • Spirulina


Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae or cyanobacteria that is known for its high nutritional content. This superfood is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and is often used as a dietary supplement. In addition, spirulina contains high levels of copper and is low in calories, making it a popular choice for those looking to boost their overall health and well-being. While it can have a strong taste on its own, spirulina is often added to smoothies and health beverages to enhance their nutritional value.

Copper Imbalance: The Hidden Culprit Behind Many Health Problems

Copper plays a crucial role in the body, and both too much or too little of it can be harmful. Copper deficiency in children can lead to slowed growth and development, while adults may experience anemia, heart and circulation problems, bone abnormalities, and complications in the nervous and immune system. 

Two well-known copper disorders are Wilson's disease, where copper accumulates in the body, and Menkes disease, where copper is poorly absorbed, leading to severe developmental delays and neurological problems. It is important to maintain adequate copper levels in the body to avoid these and other associated disorders.

  • Wilson Disease

Wilson disease was first defined by Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson in 1912 as a familial nervous disease associated with cirrhosis of the liver. This disease is characterized by excess copper stored in various body tissues, particularly the liver, brain, and corneas of the eyes. It can lead to liver disease, central nervous system dysfunction, and even death if left untreated. The disease is caused by a disruption or mutation of the ATP7B gene, which is responsible for the movement of excess copper from the liver to be converted into bile and eventually excreted from the body. The treatment for Wilson disease involves lowering copper levels to nontoxic levels.

wilson disease

  • Menkes Disease

According to the World Health Organization, a lack of copper poses more health risks than an excess of copper in the body. Menkes disease is a rare genetic disorder caused by a copper deficiency resulting from a mutation in the ATP7A gene. This gene is responsible for delivering copper to secreted copper enzymes and exporting excess copper from cells. The mutation leads to poor distribution of copper to the body's cells, resulting in low levels of copper in the brain and other tissues. Symptoms of Menkes disease include sparse, kinky hair and deterioration of the nervous system. People with Menkes disease also experience reduced collagen formation.

menkes disease

Take Away

When planning your meals for the week, make sure to include foods that are rich in copper to ensure you are meeting your daily requirements. While these foods are easy to find, they may not be regularly consumed. Consider using a list of copper-rich foods to plan new meal ideas. Another great source of copper is drinking water from a copper water bottle. Recent studies have shown that this is a safe and beneficial health practice. Storing water in a copper bottle can also create natural alkaline water, which has many health benefits.

The article was written by a team of researchers and writers who have expertise in the field of health and medicine. The team has access to all available scientific studies and relevant literature related to the topic, ensuring that the information presented is accurate and up-to-date. One of the team members is a qualified medical professional, who can provide insight and expertise in the medical aspects of the topic. However, the information presented in the article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

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