Copper is an essential trace mineral found widely distributed in foods. The highest amounts are found in organ meats and seafood, nuts and seeds, grains, cocoa products, and water, especially water from copper pipes. A Copper deficiency can lead to anemia, which symptoms are very similar to an Iron deficiency [1].

Function of Copper

Copper is part of the synthesis of hemoglobin [2] [3] [4].
It is involved in the energy metabolism and the retrieval of energy [2] [3] [4].
The mineral plays an important role in the development and growth of bones [2] [3].
It is involved in the metabolism of histidine, serine and glycine, which are essential amino acids [2].

Deficiency Symptoms

Copper deficiency can lead to anemia, which is a decrease in the total number of read blood cells or hemoglobin and therefore decreases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Anemia symptoms are often very vague and may include feeling tired, week, having shortness of breath and a poor ability to exercise [2].
The body’s defense against infectious diseases is weakened [2].
A copper deficiency can cause an increased risk of coronary heart disease [2].
Another symptom is the increased concentration of iron in the liver, which can lead to liver damage [2].

Surplus of Copper

A Copper surplus can lead to vomiting and diarrhea [2].
A severe Copper surplus can result on hemolysis, which is the increased destruction of red blood cells, which in turn can lead to anemia [2].

[1] Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Available at:

[2] Koula-Jenik, H., Miko M., Kraft M., Schulz R., Leitfaden Ernährungsmedizin. Elsevier,Urban&Fischer Verlag 2013;p.70

[3]Christoph Raschka, Stephanie Ruf, Sport und Ernährung: Wissenschaftlich basierte Empfehlungen, Tipps und Ernährungspläne für die Praxis. Georg Thieme Verlag 2015; p.132

[4] Wibusch N, Hofmann P, Förster H, Hörtnagl H, Ledl-Kurkowski E, Pokan R, Kompendium der Sportmedizin Physiologie, Innere Medizin und Pädiatrie. Springer-Verlag 2016; p. 354

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