When you hear copper, you may initially think of metal, wires, and copper thieves. Copper, however, is also a very important element in the human diet. Copper is a trace mineral that is found in all of the tissues within our bodies. Copper is involved in the coding of enzymes, melanin production, and the formation of red blood cells. This mineral is also crucial in maintaining the health of our bones, immune system, nerves, and blood vessels.
Symptoms of Copper Deficiency
Deficiency of copper is rare but can have dire side effects. To avoid this, it is important to eat a well-rounded diet that incorporates copper-rich foods.
- Sores or skin inflammation
- Always feeling cold
- Low body temperature
- Frequently getting sick
- Brittle bones
- Muscle soreness
- Delayed growth
- Joint pain
- Hair thinning
- Unexplained weight loss
Seafood is one category of food that contains some of the highest amounts of copper. Examples of high-copper content seafood includes oysters and other shellfish, tuna, and organic salmon.
2. Organic Meat
In addition to seafood, other protein-rich foods also contain copper. Examples include beef, chicken, and turkey. Cooked veal has the highest amount of copper per serving (about 15 mg), with beef following behind.
3. Organic Eggs
Egg yolks also contain copper, which is good news for those that may not care for meat or seafood. Eggs also contain protein and many vitamins, which makes for a great start to your day.
4. Herbs and Spices
There are many herbs and spices that will help increase your copper intake. Some of the copper-rich spices include mustard, chili powder, cloves, cumin, saffron, celery seed, dill, spearmint, coriander, onion powder, and curry powder. There are also dried herbs that are great sources of copper, such as marjoram, tarragon, and thyme.
5. Sun-dried Tomatoes
Not only are they delicious, but sun-dried tomatoes are also a great source of copper. In addition, they also contain high amounts of iron and potassium, two more key ingredients for a healthy body. Sun-dried tomatoes are easy to incorporate into your diet: toss them into your pasta, throw them on some homemade pizza, or enjoy them in an omelette (and get the extra benefit of egg yolks, too).
6. Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Some of the vegetables with the highest copper content include mushrooms, radishes, soybeans, and kidney beans. In addition, fruits such as lemon, star fruit, blackberry, guava, pineapple, banana, and apricot will deliver copy to your body. These fruits and vegetables also contain a plethora of other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which further illustrate why they should be added to your diet.
7. Organic Nuts and Seeds
Many nuts are a rich source of copper, including almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. Nuts are also easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Mix up some nuts with raisins and chocolate chips for a healthy and delicious trail mix snack. Or, throw some into your salad, oatmeal, bread, and more for additional nutritional benefits.
You can also just grab a handful for a protein-rich snack that will help keep you full, reduce cravings, and ensure a healthy amount of copper. Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin, flax, and sunflower are also healthy options to incorporate into your diet for added copper intake.
Perfect, another excuse to eat chocolate! Not only is chocolate good for your heart, it also contains the essential mineral copper. For full copper benefits, it is best to consume unsweetened cocoa powder or hot chocolate.
Beverages such as teas, coffee, and wine also have small amounts of copper that naturally occur in them. Since we don’t need a lot of copper to begin with, these beverages can easily supplement your copper demands. Of course, they do all have side effects, be it caffeine or alcohol, so drink only when appropriate!
Caution and Recommendations
While it is important to make sure your body has the copper that it needs, there are some serious risks associated with too much copper. Copper is actually poisonous in large amounts, so be sure you eat these copper-rich foods in moderation and in combination with a well-balanced diet. Excessive intake of copper over a long period of time can actually lead to kidney problems, mental disorders, hepatitis, and more.
While copper deficiency can result in anemia, osteoporosis, joint pain, or lowered immunity, it is rare for most adults to be chronically copper deficient. The recommended daily amount of copper for adults is about 900 mcg/day. This is not much, and since we already get a lot of it from our diets without trying too hard, a specific copper-rich diet should not be followed unless strictly ordered by your physician.