Copper is an essential mineral. It is naturally present in some foods and is available as a dietary supplement. It is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in energy production, iron metabolism, neuropeptide activation, connective tissue synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis. It is also needed for various physiologic processes such as development of new blood vessels, hormone regulation, brain development, skin pigmentation, and immune system functioning. Also, defense against oxidative damage (too many free radicals) depends on parts of copper itself.
Copper can be found naturally in some foods. The average human diet provides approximately 1,400 mcg/day for men and 1,100 mcg/day for women that is primarily absorbed in the upper small intestine. Almost two-thirds of the body’s copper is located in the skeleton and muscle. Only a small amount typically stored in the body, which is one reason daily recommended consumption of copper is important.
Copper levels in the body are homeostatically maintained by copper absorption from the intestine and copper release by the liver into bile to provide protection from copper deficiency and toxicity.