Foods high in Copper

Foods which are good sources of copper

Copper is a trace mineral, meaning that it’s essential in the human body, but only in very small amounts. It is found in almost all the foods we eat, so unlike many other minerals it is unusual to suffer from a copper deficiency. However, this page is a comprehensive guide to foods high in copper as well as explaining why this mineral is necessary for your good health.

What is copper and why is it important to your diet?

As the page introduction states, copper is an essential trace mineral present in all body tissues, though most copper is stored in the liver. It is important for a variety of reasons. However, unlike many other vitamins and minerals, the total amount that you need each day is rather small. It is therefore unusual for copper to be taken as vitamin supplements and this is usually only done following on medical advice. However, if you do suffer from a copper deficiency it can have a variety of consequences including osteoporosis, joint pain and lowered immunity.

Copper works with iron to help the body form red blood cells and keeps blood vessels healthy. It also helps keep the nerves, immune system and bones healthy, as well aiding in the healing of any cuts and bruises that you may suffer. Copper is needed by the body in the manufacture of myelin (the sheath covering nerve fibres), the structural protein collagen,  and  the pigment melanin. It also plays two key roles in energy production; firstly it helps with the production and storage of another vital mineral, iron. Without enough iron in your body you can become weak and anaemic. Secondly it is involved with producing energy within your cells.

The list of foods high in copper below will show you just how easy it is to get all you need of this mineral through simple dietary sources.

RDI Copper

  • 900µg Adults
  • 1300µg Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • 890µg Children 14-18 years
  • 700µg Children 9-13 years
  • 440µg Children 4-8 years
  • 340µg Toddler 1-3 years
  • 220µg Infants 7-12 months
  • 200µg Infants 0-6 months

List of copper rich foods

10 Best Foods High in Copper
In this section we will show you some of the best dietary sources of copper. Figures here are based on a daily consumption of 2mg (2000µg) per day, which is the DV (Daily value) for Copper, calculated as the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that a person should get for optimum health from a 2,000 calories-a-day diet. The DV is the figure you will see on food packaging where a single reference value is used and thus differs somewhat from the RDA in this case.

Foods high in Copper

  1. Oysters

    Sea foods are an incredible source of copper, and oysters are arguably the best example. You can get well over your total daily intake through just six oysters (42g provides 2.4mg of copper). Oysters are also excellent sources of two other minerals; iron and zinc. 100 g of Oysters contains 5.7mg of copper.

  2. Cashew nuts

    Many nuts are a prime source of copper with Cashew nuts coming at the top of this list. They are also a good source of vitamin K and magnesium. 100 g of cashew nuts contains 2.2 mg of copper.

  3. Squid

    Fried squid is another sea food rich in copper. You can get in excess of all the copper needed in a single day, plus they are high in protein and selenium. In 100 g of fried squid there is 2.1 mg of copper.

  4. Whelk

    Whelk is another seafood that acts as a good source of this mineral. Their reputation for toxicity (not always solely due to originating from polluted areas) may mean they’re not an obvious food choice for many people, but they do hold several attractive nutritional properties such as being rich in vitamin B12 and phosphorus. 100 g of cooked whelk has 2.1 mg of copper.

  5. Pine nuts

    Dried pine nuts are another food high in copper. Besides this mineral they also provide you with lots of fibre and vitamin B2. 100 g of dried pine nuts contain 1.8 mg of copper.

  6. Hazelnuts

    As well as being high in copper, Hazelnuts are also a great source of vitamins B6 and B9. 100 g of raw hazelnuts provide you with 1.7 mg of copper.

  7. Walnuts

    Yet another nut that contains a high level of copper. Not only that, but walnuts also offer a wealth of nutritional goodness including vitamin B5 and magnesium. 100 g of English walnuts contain 1.6 mg of copper.

  8. Kale

    It isn’t just nuts and seafood that feature in our top ten list. Kale not only rates inclusion in our foods high in copper list, but it’s also a great source of vitamins A, C and K and manganese. 100 g of kale contains 1.5 mg of copper.

  9. Sun-dried tomatoes

    Tomatoes are very popular fruit, and the sun-dried variety offers a range of nutritional benefits alongside their high volume of copper including potassium and manganese. 100 g of sun dried tomatoes have 1.4 mg of copper in them.

  10. Brazil nuts

    Back to nuts again, but brazil nuts have to get a mention when it comes to foods high in copper.  A serving of these will give you not only a high level of copper but also a wealth of additional nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B1. 100 g of dried Brazil nuts contain 1.4 mg of copper.

As you can see, eating 100 g of any of these foods would provide you with more than your daily copper intake all at once. However not many people eat oysters or a whole bowlful of raw nuts on a daily basis, so our next section contains many more examples of foods high in copper so you can reach your RDA through a variety of different foods.

More foods containing copper

Here are several more examples of foods high in copper for you to include in your diet. There are so many common foods that are good sources of copper, so it is one nutrient that is rather difficult not to get in your diet. Hence why you don’t often hear of people with a copper deficiency.

  • Sunflower seeds – 1.7 mg of copper per 100 g (3.5 oz)
  • Pumpkin/squash seeds – 1.38 mg
  • Pistachio nuts – 1.3 mg
  • Flaxseed – 1.2 mg
  • Pecans (raw) – 1.2 mg
  • Lean ham (cooked) – 1.2 mg
  • Soybeans (roasted, edamame) – 1.1 mg
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, cooked) – 0.9 mg
  • Goat’s cheese (soft) – 0.7 mg
  • Crab (blue, cooked) – 0.6 mg
  • Granola (plain) – 0.6 mg
  • Peanuts (salted) – 0.5 mg
  • Hummus – 0.5 mg
  • Tortilla chips (plain) – 0.5 mg
  • Coconut (fresh) – 0.4 mg
  • Lobster (cooked) – 0.4 g
  • Muesli – 0.4 mg
  • Salami – 0.36 mg
  • Chickpeas (cooked) – 0.35 mg
  • Raisins – 0.34 mg
  • Mushrooms (fried, white) – 0.3 mg
  • Lentils (boiled) – 0.3 mg
  • Prunes, pitted dried plums – 0.29mg
  • Black beans – 0.23 mg
  • Avocado (half) – 0.2 mg
  • Baked beans – 0.2 mg
  • Pomegranate – 0.14 mg
  • Grapes – 0.13 mg

Don’t forget that many other foods contain trace amounts of copper, which when combined can make further positive contributions to your total intake of this mineral.

Copper facts

As we have seen, copper is a key mineral in many different body systems, from building strong tissues and maintaining blood volume to producing energy within your cells. Yet the amount of copper you need in a day is very small, and in fact the total amount of this mineral in your body is not quite as much as that found in a single penny.

  • Despite being a vital dietary component, too much copper can actually be dangerous. In the U.S.A, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for copper has been established at 10 mg per day for adult men and women. This is the highest level of copper intake that is not likely to pose a health risk to most adults in the general population. However, this daily intake level is not recommended by any authority.
  • Copper deficiency symptoms include fatigue, anemia, and a decrease in the number of white blood cells. There may also be tingling in the hands and feet, confusion, irritability and mild depression. Copper deficiency can be diagnosed by means of a simple blood test.
  • Conditions linked to copper deficiency include blood disorders, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. However copper deficiency can be confirmed by blood tests and treated with supplements if necessary
  • Copper helps neutralise free radicals which can cause severe cellular damage
  • In many regions of the world, drinking water conveyed in copper pipes can be a source of dietary copper. It can comprise between 20 and 25% of dietary copper.
  • Babies should get all their copper from food or formula, unless otherwise advised be a healthcare professional.
  • At birth, a healthy infant has four times the concentration of copper than a full-grown adult.
  • Wilson’s Disease is a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot metabolize copper. However, altering the levels of copper in the diet will not have an effect as it is an inherited condition.