Explore Copper Rich Foods and Boost Your Health

Discover an array of foods high in copper and understand what foods have copper to enhance your well-being.

Copper, a crucial trace mineral, not only enriches your diet but also plays a significant role in your body’s various functions. In this guide, we delve into the importance of copper and its impact on satiety and offer an assortment of recipes that maximize copper intake while keeping calories balanced.

Including a variety of copper rich foods in your diet can be a game-changer for your health. Embrace the journey of exploring copper-rich foods and step onto the path of improved health and vitality?.

High Copper Foods (Per Serving)

Foods high in copper are found plentifully from both plant and animal sources.  

If you find yourself falling short of the recommended copper intake, it’s time to focus on foods that pack in more copper per serving.  

To help you get started, the infographic below shows the copper provided by popular foods in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers. 

high copper foods

Once you’re ready to revitalise your diet with a wider variety of high-copper foods, download our printable list of foods with more copper per serving here.

Copper Rich Foods (Per Calorie)

Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of copper your body needs, you can zero in on foods that deliver more calcium per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density.  The infographic below shows popular foods that provide more copper per calorie.

copper rich foods

For more variety, check out our printable list of copper-rich foods per calorie.

Copper Food Chart

Curious about how your favourite foods stack up in the copper game?  Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing copper content per calorie and per serving.  For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).  

Copper Food Chart

How Much Copper Do You Need?

Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 0.85 mg of copper per 2000 calories, similar to the Dietary Reference Intake of 0.9 mg for men.  However, achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake of 1.8 per 2000 calories from food aligns with a 19% reduction in energy intake.  

Satiety Response to Foods with More Copper

However, it’s worth noting that the satiety response levels out at higher intakes of copper.  More is not necessarily better, and a little liver goes a long way to proving your copper requirements.  

Copper-Rich Recipes

Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1400 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass.  We’ve plotted these recipes based on copper content versus protein percentage.  The further right you go, the more copper you can enjoy with fewer calories.

Copper-Rich Recipes

Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer.  Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures!

photos of Copper-Rich Recipes

Why is Copper Important for Your Health? 

  • Energy production: Copper is an essential component of the enzyme complex that helps to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy source of the body.
  • Iron absorption: Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the diet and its incorporation into red blood cells, which helps in the prevention of anaemia.
  • Connective tissue formation: Copper is essential for the formation of connective tissue, which provides structure and support to various organs and tissues in the body.
  • Nervous system function: Copper plays a role in the proper functioning of the nervous system by aiding in the production of neurotransmitters that are responsible for sending signals throughout the body.
  • Immune system function: Copper has been shown to have antimicrobial properties that help in fighting infections and boost the immune system.
  • Antioxidant activity: Copper is a cofactor for superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme that helps to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

What Are the Roles of Copper in the Body?

Copper is an essential trace mineral or a mineral that the body requires in small amounts.  Your body needs copper for a long list of functions.

  • Copper is crucial for the synthesis of red blood cells alongside iron.  We also need dietary copper to absorb iron and transport it.
  • We require copper to make enzymes related to energy production in the mitochondria.
  • Copper is needed for the synthesis and regeneration of collagen, making it essential for wound healing and scar prevention.
  • One of the main enzymes that break down histamine in the body requires copper.
  • Because we need copper for healthy connective tissue, it is crucial for the integrity of our veins, arteries, and blood vessels.
  • Copper helps to regulate the functioning of the cardiovascular system and assists in the synthesis of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).  Low levels have been linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • We need copper to synthesise neurotransmitters like dopamine.
  • Copper is needed in the brain for healthy cognition and nerve signalling.
  • Copper works alongside zinc and iron as an antioxidant to protect proteins, cell membranes, cells, and organs from oxidative damage.
  • The immune system utilises copper to perform several functions and synthesise immune compounds.
  • We need copper for our hair and skin colour.
  • If you’ve lost your sense of taste, it’s essential to know that copper is one mineral that contributes to taste sensitivity
  • Finally, copper helps you metabolise fat.

However, copper is often not a nutrient that we need to actively seek out because we are regularly exposed to it in food and the environment

It can be easy to get too much copper from consuming too much liver, drinking water that flows through copper pipes, or using copper-containing birth control.  

Because of its antagonistic relationship with zinc, too much copper can predispose someone to a zinc deficiency.

What Are the Signs of a Copper Deficiency? 

Although copper deficiency is rare in the United States, approximately 25% of the world’s population is thought to be copper deficient.  This affects various systems of the body because of copper’s vast role. 

Copper deficiency symptoms include:

Factors Increasing Your Dietary Demand for Copper

You may need more copper in your diet if you:

Synergistic Nutrients

Copper works synergistically with vitamins B2, B6, and B12, calcium, folate, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, and amino acids to do its job.  For this reason, we recommend consuming copper from food where a complete nutrient profile is available to ensure it is supported in doing all of its jobs. 

Copper Absorption

Consuming adequate calcium and potassium will improve the absorption and retention of copper in your body.  Furthermore, consuming protein and soluble carbohydrates like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables can boost absorption.

On the contrary, consuming foods rich in selenium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and zinc can inhibit the absorption of copper in the GI tract.  In addition, foods high in simple sugars can also limit absorption.

Copper Bioavailability

Studies have not shown whether or not copper is better absorbed from plant or animal foods.

The composition of your diet (i.e., fats, carbs, protein, fibre) seems to have little effect on copper bioavailability, aside from excessive glucose intake.

Women with higher estrogen levels from taking birth control or during pregnancy will absorb more copper from their diet.  This is because estrogen and copper have somewhat of a synergistic relationship, and estrogen has been shown to increase circulating levels of copper.  In this way, birth control can increase copper levels and lower zinc levels.

Copper Toxicity

Copper toxicity is rare, as excess copper is normally excreted in the bile and faeces.  However, this condition can arise if someone has a condition where their liver is functioning inadequately if they’re zinc or iron deficient, or if they’re regularly exposed to high amounts of environmental copper.  Genetic defects are also at play.

Copper in the Environment

Environmental copper can come from:

  • consuming or bathing in water flowing through copper pipes,
  • the use of copper IUDs,
  • taking synthetic estrogen as in birth control,
  • consuming produce that was sprayed with the pesticide copper sulphate and not washed properly,
  • using copper cookware,
  • copper particles in air pollution near agriculture, water treatment, or mining industries,
  • taking large amounts of copper supplements,
  • eating large quantities of copper foods, and (or)
  • eating inadequate amounts of zinc foods.

Copper Upper Limit

The Upper Limit of copper from supplements is 10 mg/day.  This is well above the amount achievable from food unless someone eats large amounts of liver every day. 

It seems that excess copper isn’t a problem in itself unless other factors are at play.  Because excess copper can affect zinc absorption, it’s critical to watch out for too much copper (e.g., from lots of liver), especially if you are not getting a lot of zinc.

Symptoms of Excess Copper

Symptoms of copper toxicity look like:

  • headaches,
  • kidney issues,
  • diarrhea,
  • stomach pain,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • blue or green-coloured stools,
  • dark stools with blood,
  • dizziness,
  • fatigue,
  • fever and chills,
  • muscle aches,
  • extreme thirst,
  • tachycardia,
  • a fast heart rate,
  • changes in taste,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • irritability,
  • sudden mood changes,

Balancing Your Copper Intake with Zinc and Iron

Zinc supplements can decrease the absorption of copper and increase its demand. 

High levels of copper from leaching copper pipes and pans, birth control, and high intakes of copper-rich foods, such as liver, can impact zinc and iron absorption.

Our satiety analysis shows that a higher iron: copper ratio aligns with a lower calorie intake.  The optimal dietary zinc: copper ratio is between 8:1 and 12:1.  It is also ideal to maintain your iron: copper intake ratio between 10:1 and 15:1.

These ratios are difficult to manage in practice.  To help you, Nutrient Optimiser ensures that copper or zinc is not over-emphasised to exacerbate these nutrient ratios further if they are already outside the optimal range.   

For more details, see Nutrient Balance Ratios: Do They Matter and How Can I Manage Them?

How Can I Calculate if I Am Getting Enough Copper? 

Curious about your copper intake?  Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the copper sweet spot in your diet.

After just one week of tracking your daily meals with Cronometer, Nutrient Optimiser will unveil a personalised roadmap, your guide to a healthier, more nutrient-rich lifestyle. 

You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your Copper gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on critical nutrients.

Ready to unlock your nutrient potential?  Join the challenge and embark on a journey towards a brighter, healthier you!

Nutrient Density Starter Pack

Ready to supercharge your nutrition?  Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!

In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:

  • Food Lists: Discover our carefully crafted lists optimised for each essential nutrient, tailored to your goals, preferences, and unique conditions.
  • The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World: Peek into a week of mouthwatering, nutrient-dense meals that’ll leave you satisfied and energised.
  • Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
  • 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge: Unearth your priority nutrients and pinpoint the foods and meals that pack a nutrient punch so you can kickstart your journey to better health.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly.  Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!

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