The mineral is a vital trace element whose importance for health is often underestimated. The human organism cannot produce it itself; we have to ingest copper with our food.

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The trace element copper

Copper is a component of numerous enzymes and is involved in many different metabolic processes. Copper, for example, plays a role in the formation of connective tissue, in iron transport in the body and in nerve and energy metabolism.

What is the trace element copper?

The mineral is found in many parts of the world, especially in basalt structures. Basalt structures are of volcanic origin; copper is deposited in the earth's crust. Copper minerals form an entire family of minerals that have different levels of pure copper. Overall, copper ores are widely used worldwide. They are mostly used and processed industrially. 

What functions does copper have in the human body?

Copper is predominantly stored in the liver in humans and then released into the body via the bile as needed. It primarily affects many bodily functions by being a component of various enzymes. It is thereby incorporated into protein compounds.

These enzymes are also called metal enzymes. Enzymes exert a catalytic effect. This makes certain biochemical reactions and processes in the human body possible. Copper also plays a part in cell respiration. Since it also protects the cells from oxidative stress, the trace element is an antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralise so-called free radicals. These aggressive oxygen molecules damage the cells with their high reactivity. This leads to oxidation processes, similar to the ones known from the rusting of metals. The reactive particles are associated with diseases as well as aging and degradation processes of the human body. They are caused, among other things, by UV radiation, smoking, stress, unbalanced nutrition, and other factors. Copper in combination with other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium cells can protect against oxidative processes. 

However, too much and excessively pure copper in the human body can contribute to the formation of free radicals. Therefore, with the trace element copper, it depends very much on how much is supplied to the body. 

The European Food and Drug Administration (EFSA) confirms these statements for copper:

  • Copper helps maintain normal connective tissue.
  • Copper contributes to normal energy metabolism.
  • Copper contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
  • Copper contributes to normal hair pigmentation.
  • Copper contributes to normal skin pigmentation.
  • Copper contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
  • Copper helps to maintain strong connective tissues and to protect cells from oxidative stress

Food with copper

The semi-precious metal is found in various foods such as:

  • Chocolate
  • Liver
  • Cereals
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts 
  • Marine animals

The need for copper

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) sets the need for copper in adolescents and adults as between 1.0 and 1.5 mg per day. Some nutritional experts also consider demand values between 2 and 4 mg to be appropriate here. The need may fluctuate individually and in different life circumstances. For example, intense stress causes the body to empty the copper stores, particularly in the liver and draws more copper into the blood. As a result, the overall need for the trace element increases. Zinc negatively affects the absorption of copper in the intestine. Therefore, nutrition generally also influences copper absorption and utilization. The normal blood levels for copper are between 74 and 131 μg/dl in adults. In the urine, up to a maximum of 60 μg is usually excreted in 24 hours. 

Too little copper and too much copper?

Copper is important as a trace element for humans, but it is also a potentially toxic heavy metal. Therefore, the body mustn't absorb and use too little or too much copper. The evaluation of copper content in the human body is partly made more difficult by the copper storage disorders present in some people.
Some suffer from a hereditary copper metabolism disorder and deposit too much copper in the liver and then also in other parts of the body when the liver's absorption capacity is exhausted.

It is also difficult to assess the copper content in individual cases because some diseases as well as pregnancy may be associated with elevated copper values. These elevated values are not always harmful in these cases. For this purpose, the entire circumstances of the individual case must be considered. 

Individual measurements of the blood for copper can sometimes be of little significance. Here, the doctor must also be well-versed in the subject of copper, such as orthomolecular medicine. Orthomolecular medicine specialists specialize in micronutrients, their effects, and their need


The essential trace element copper should be carefully dosed in dietary supplements. A dietary shortage of copper is rather rare due to the wide spread of the mineral in soils, and plant and animal foods. However, it is not impossible in the case of an unbalanced diet. A doctor should be consulted in the case of doubt before taking the recommended daily copper requirements via a nutritional supplement. A laboratory test of the copper content in the body could also be recommended here.

Copper plays a key role in nutritional supplements that aim to provide a comprehensive supply of all the minerals and trace elements that the body needs. 

Dietary supplements that aim to support the appearance of the skin and hair often contain a low copper content. For example, if you take higher doses of zinc with a dietary supplement during the cold period, you should keep a keen eye on the copper content.

Product-Tip: Copper 2 mg
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