Earlier in the week, I wrote about the importance of copper for our health. It is involved in so many areas of our metabolism and health. We also covered copper deficiency and what symptoms are associated with it. Today we’ll look at how much copper we need and good copper food sources.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, copper is an essential trace element – meaning we need only a little, but that little amount is vital. It is involved in many different reactions in the body.

So how much is a “trace” amount?

The average adult has about 100mg of total body copper. The USDA recommends 900mcg/day of copper a day. “mcg” is micrograms, not milligrams.  900mcg = 0.9mg.

Can we get that amount from food or do we need to supplement? Some multivitamins include copper and some don’t include copper? 

Copper food sources

Ha! I bet you love seeing liver on there! Our best source of copper! Such a shame that so many people don’t eat liver. I’ve blogged about liver before, with some recipes. Worth trying…… 

From the above, you can see that you can get adequate copper from your diet. Maybe some days you will get more, others less.  Try using cronometer to see if you are getting adequate in your diet. 

Is copper contraindicated for anyone?

High copper levels are contraindicated for all of us. But they are especially contraindicated for people who have cancer. While we do need the actions of copper with cancer, especially antioxidant activity, copper can also drive angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the creation of new blood vessels – capillaries. When these grow around tumors, they provide the tumor with a blood supply and thus nourishment, which we don’t want to encourage. Reduction in copper levels seems to inhibit angiogenesis so if you have cancer, talk to your oncologist about reducing the foods shown above that are good sources of copper and check your supplements for copper. While copper is still essential, we want to make sure our levels are balanced and definitely not high.

What about zinc?

Yes, we need good levels of both copper and zinc. If one gets too high, it can deplete the other.  Luckily, many of the foods that are good sources of copper are also good sources of zinc. Nature does the balancing for us. So the foods shown above have both copper and zinc. We get into trouble with imbalances more because of supplementation rather than food intake. Many supplements are now high in zinc. So if you are taking supplements, take a look at the levels of these two important elements. 

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