In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about copper supplements, including whether you need them, how to take them, and the best brands. Let's get started!
Learning that you might be living, day to day, with a copper deficiency can be a rude awakening. Few people think about copper as a vital component to optimum health; few people think about copper at all!
Incorporating a copper supplement into your wellness regime can, quite literally, change your life. Consider this your ultimate guide on the matter.
In this article we discuss the following:
- What are Copper Supplements?
- Are Copper Supplements of Use to Me?
- Types of Copper Supplements
- How to Take Copper Supplements
- Pros & Cons of Copper Supplements
- Risks Involved in Taking Copper Supplements
- How to Take Copper Supplements Safely
- Top 10 Copper Supplement Brands
- Alternative Ways of Improving Your Copper Intake
What are Copper Supplements?
When one isn’t getting enough Vitamin B, A or even D, the most obvious solution is to turn to supplements. Likewise, a lack of copper in the body can be easily corrected with a daily copper supplement.
Fatigue, brittle bones, poor vision and even premature greying of hair are all symptoms associated with a copper deficiency within the human body. Copper is an essential nutrient to a healthy immune system, but the body is unable to make any new copper of its own.
As humans, we unknowingly rely on our diets to provide us with trace amounts of copper to feed to our bodies. Those who eat less copper dense foods than others are likely to experience a deficiency over time. Others may simply lack copper due to genetics. Most importantly, however, every single person on the planet loses copper whenever they urinate or excrete waste.
If you can’t rely on your diet to provide you with the necessary levels of daily copper intake, then a copper supplement is the next best thing.
The recommended daily intake for individuals above the age of 19 is around 2 mg per day. A copper supplement is a convenient way of hitting the mark every time, and, since there is such a thing as ‘too much’ copper, a dose controlled supplement is arguably the safest way to manage one’s copper levels.
That being said, one first needs to determine where their copper levels are at. Having your copper levels tested by a medical practitioner needs to happen before one can form any idea of what one’s personal daily dose of copper should be. There are real risks involved in consuming too much copper unknowingly, especially for already immune compromised people. We’ll get deeper into copper testing and proper dosage as we move along — take note!
Are Copper Supplements For Me?
Any supplement that makes the person who takes it feel better is worth some time of day. To date, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world who rely on a copper supplement to regulate certain imbalances within their bodies, some of them otherwise fatal.
The severity of copper deficiency is a spectrum; some are on the one end with mild to moderate symptoms, while others on the far end are actually fighting for their lives from something known as Menkes disease.
Menkes disease is a copper deficiency disorder that results, over time, in a condition called “failure to thrive”. This is basically just a nice way of saying that people suffering from Menkes disease are totally incapable of growing in height or weight at the expected rate for their age as a result of their deteriorating nervous systems.
For anyone living with Menkes disease, a copper supplement is more than just a supplement; it’s a lifeline.
Thankfully, you don’t need to let your copper deficiency reach the extreme end of the spectrum before you do something about it. Starting early can help alleviate all early onset symptoms associated with lack of copper, including osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, and even anemia.
There are some individuals out there who technically don’t need a copper supplement, as they get more than enough copper via their diet. However, these individuals may be living with certain malabsorption syndromes, which literally renders the body unable to absorb copper from foods. Celiac disease is an example of this, and, in this instance, a copper supplement is a necessity.
During pregnancy, a copper supplement could be an essential item. A fetus relies solely on the mother to receive their own daily dose of copper. Whether this dose comes from copper-rich foods, or a copper supplement, is irrelevant. All that matters is that the growing child receives a suitable amount, or otherwise runs the risk of stunted growth in the womb. Overdosing copper while pregnant is incredibly high risk and one is encouraged to consult with a professional before self-prescribing a copper supplement.
When considering how a copper supplement may be of use to you, always keep in mind that, while severe copper deficiency is extremely rare, mild copper deficiency is incredibly common! Studies have estimated that around 25% of people are living with unsuitable copper levels, and most don’t even know it.
Types of Copper Supplements
There are a number of different types of copper supplements on the market; usually all are available over the counter and require no prescription. There are copper supplements available in pill form, as well as some available as liquids. At present, there is no research available to back which type of copper supplement is best absorbed by the human body, though some individuals have their theories.
The three main branches of copper supplements are 1) pure copper, 2) copper with other binding ingredients, and 3) copper present in multivitamin compounds. All of these different supplements will make use of a number of different forms of copper, namely cupric oxide, cupric sulfate, copper amino acid chelates, and copper gluconate.
Despite a lack of evidence, many medical professionals maintain that the chelated or citrated copper forms tend to be of most use by the human body. Chelated copper simply means that the copper has been bound to an amino acid or molecule of protein in order to make it better for absorption. Similarly, citrated copper simply means that the copper was bound to a citrate molecule, also making for better absorption.
A liquid copper supplement is a suitable alternative for individuals who struggle to swallow pills; some believe liquid copper to also be more effective than copper supplements in pill form.
The thing with copper supplements is that they are sometimes a double edged sword. Regardless of the type of supplement you choose to take, you will almost always find yourself at war with your own zinc and Vitamin C levels.
A too high intake of copper will noticeably impact one’s zinc and Vitamin C levels in a negative way. Similarly, too high intakes of zinc and Vitamin C will do the exact same to one’s copper levels. The three have a tumultuous relationship within the human body, and this is why figuring out the exact amount required for harmony amongst all three elements is so important.
Some copper supplements are not compatible with oral contraceptives; this needs to be properly discussed with your prescribing GP prior to self-medicating.
How to Take Copper Supplements
First thing’s first — figure out your most beneficial daily dose amount of supplemented copper! Depending on the severity of your copper deficiency, you should either be able to do this by using an informed online guide, or by consulting with a health and wellness professional.
Pregnant women, and anyone on oral contraceptives, must consult with their doctor before self-prescribing any form of copper supplement. Your doctor will be able to test your blood or urine in order to determine exactly where your copper levels are sitting, and thus allocate the perfect daily dose for you to start taking at home.
Since most copper supplements come in pill form, consuming them is as easy as a swallow. The estimated intake levels for copper supplements are:
- 0-12 months: copper should only be received via food and/or formula
- 1-3 years: 1,000 mcg per day
- 4-8 years: 3,000 mcg per day
- 9-13 years: 5,000 mcg per day
- 14-18 years: 8,000 mcg per day
- 19+ years: 10,000 mcg per day
Most copper supplements come in milligram doses, and start at just 2 mg as a daily home treatment. These are usually copper supplements that are available in any health and wellness shop. Higher doses of copper, such as the 10 mg recommended for more severe deficiencies, are usually professionally administered supplements that require a doctor's prescription in order to purchase.
Liquid copper is a supplement that is available for self-prescription. Users are encouraged to be very careful when measuring and mixing their solutions, and to strictly adhere to the stipulated daily doses. Liquid copper is consumed by mixing a small amount of the solution into water or fruit juice, and downing it.
As mentioned, copper works in battle with zinc and Vitamin C. In order to maintain healthy levels of all three of these micronutrients, it is often best for people taking copper supplements to take zinc supplements as well.
A zinc and copper supplement should never be digested simultaneously. Ideally you want to take your copper supplement first, and then take your zinc at least two hours later. To make things easier, some people simply take their copper with their breakfast, and then take their zinc later in the day just before bed. This leaves a healthy digestive gap between the two, ensuring there can be no risk of conflict.
The most important thing to remember when taking your copper supplements is that neglecting to honor a safe daily dose can cause kidney failure, and become fatal in the process. Always be extra careful with your copper dosing!
Pros & Cons of Copper Supplements
The three types of copper supplements all offer their fair share of pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about each:
The Pros of Pure Copper Supplements
- A pure, non bound form of copper
- Stronger potencies available per capsule
- Promotes growth of red blood cells
- Enables much stronger iron absorption
The Cons of Pure Copper Supplements
- Not easily digested or absorbed by most human bodies
- Can unknowingly be causing overdose over time
- More likely to interfere with zinc and Vitamin C levels
- Less readily available compared to other copper supplements
- Can be expensive
- Can’t be taken simultaneously with zinc
The Pros of Copper Supplements with Binding Ingredients
- Much easier for the average human being to digest
- Binding ingredients, such as amino acids, promote better absorption of copper
- Readily available and easy to find
- Can be found in pill or liquid form
- Less likely to interfere with zinc and Vitamin C levels
- Generally affordable
The Cons of Copper Supplements with Binding Ingredients
- Weaker copper potency per capsule
- Requires regular, routine consumption
- Can’t be taken simultaneously with zinc
The Pros of Copper Supplements within Multivitamins
- The safest way to increase copper in the body
- Easy to digest and absorb
- Unlikely to interfere with zinc or Vitamin C levels
- Readily available and easy to find
- Generally affordable
- Generally safe for pregnant women (regardless, one should still confirm this with their doctor)
The Cons of Copper Supplements within Multivitamins
- Little to no risk of overdose
- Very weak copper potency per capsule
- Not suitable to combat severe copper deficiency
- Will be digested amongst other vitamins and minerals, which can render weaker potency
What are the Risks of Taking Copper Supplements?
Even the most gentle of dietary supplements come with their fair share of risks when taken on a regular basis.
There are a few major concerns associated with copper supplements. The first is the aforementioned risk of depleted zinc and Vitamin C levels as a result of too high copper intake. While this risk is one that can be easily managed with the right monitoring, it often requires time and effort before balance can be properly achieved. The additional cost of testing zinc and Vitamin C levels in comparison to copper is something that also needs to be accounted for.
Ironically, both copper deficiency and copper overdose can lead to anemia. This is but one of many symptoms that come as a risk of consuming too much copper as a supplement. Others include nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, fevers, diarrhea featuring blood, and intense abdominal pain.
Kidney failure is the biggest risk of taking copper as a supplement, and can occur when stipulated dosages are ignored over a too long period of time. Kidney failure often leads to death, or numerous other health implications that can stick around for life.
Anyone suffering from Wilson’s disease, or anyone who once suffered from childhood cirrhosis, should know that copper supplements create a risk of making these conditions worse.
What it all boils down to is that taking copper supplements safely is simply a game of accurate dosage. Knowing where you stand in relation to copper in your body is the foundation upon which a safe and beneficial copper supplement regime can be built.
Reading copper deficiency symptoms online, and self-diagnosing based on where you think your copper levels are at, is risky business. It is not recommended to take this route, even if you are only intending to take 10 mg of copper or less.
In medical practice, copper is tested through the blood or through urine. Blood is the more preferable test, however it can oftentimes come back inconclusive. In this event, a 24 hour long urine test is conducted. If the urine test also proves unclear, it is possible for a doctor to perform a liver biopsy in order to properly evaluate levels before prescribing copper supplements.
The Top 10 Copper Supplement Brands on the Market
The question of which copper supplement on the market is best remains an objective question, unique to each individual and their specific condition. There are many great brands available online, and in store, and anyone looking to purchase copper supplements doesn’t have to look too far.
Based on our research, the top 10 copper supplement brands on the market right now are as follows:
1) WellnessOne Copper Liquid Ionic Mineral
Highly concentrated copper supplements are gaining more and more popularity. These are tinctures that offer safe doses of pure copper in liquid form, administered via a dropper as opposed to mixing into a full glass of water.
Just 10 drops of the WellnessOne gives one their 2 mg daily dose. This is a great copper supplement for anyone who isn’t interested in swallowing capsule pills once a day; this is also a wonderful way to administer copper to deficient children.
Each bottle of WellnessOne contains enough drops to last one adult 100 days, making it a worthy investment for those on a tight budget.
2) NutraBio Copper Chelate
NutraBio is a chelated copper supplement made using copper glycinate.
It’s one of the top rated copper supplements when it comes to customer reviews; even people suffering from severe copper deficiency report incredible benefits from this affordable, store-bought solution.
Each capsule is a serving of 3 mg, which is slightly higher than most supplements on the market. Daily use can be safely prescribed by a doctor.
3) Good State Liquid Ionic Copper
This is another popular source of copper for individuals seeing the early symptoms of copper deficiency.
This is an ionic copper solution with high bioavailability. This means it’s extremely easy for just about everyone to digest and absorb, offering efficient and optimum results within a short period of time.
4) NutriNoche Nano Colloidal Copper Liquid
NutriNoche is one of the superior copper supplement brands on the market. It too is easily absorbed by just about every human body.
The solution comes in two sizes: either 8 ounces or 32 ounces. The 8 ounce serving is enough for one adult’s copper intake for one month. 32 ounces is more suited to individuals who share copper supplements amongst a household, or simply those who prefer to buy in bulk.
5) NaturesPlus Copper
NaturesPlus is a brand of copper supplement also concerned with amino acid chelate. The 3 mg potency is easily digested and recommended to be taken first thing in the morning.
These are gluten free capsules and you get 90 of them per package. One package lasts most people over a month, however those looking for more than 3 mg per day will take more than one capsule a day.
6) Source Naturals Copper Sebacate
Source Naturals brand of copper sebacate is a strong fighter against premature greying of hair. Many users happily report noticeable differences in melanin levels within the first month of usage.
There are 3 mg per serving. It is recommended that you consult a doctor before commencing daily use.
7) Thorne Research Copper Bisglycinate Trace Mineral Supplement
This is one of the best copper supplements on the market. It’s a highly researched and innovative copper compound, which largely accounts for why the retail price is so much higher than other brand alternatives.
Each serving of copper is 2 mg, and some medical practitioners may recommend a double dose per day for those with severe deficiency. There are 60 capsules in each package, which works out to a month’s supply if double dosing.
8) BlueBonnet Albion Chelated Copper
This is a chelated compound of copper bisglycinate. It is a potent and easy to digest 3 mg serving of daily copper that is average in price and easy to purchase online or in-store.
These are vegan friendly copper capsules made from GMO free ingredients.
9) Vitamin Shoppe Copper
The Vitamin Shoppe is one of the most affordable nutritional supplement brands out there. You get more for your money, and their 2 mg capsules are high quality in spite of the low cost.
The Vitamin Shoppe copper supplement is recommended for anyone with mild copper deficiency. One package will last three months.
10) Solgar Formula VM-2000
Solgar’s famous multivitamins are a fantastic daily dose of copper vitamin.
In addition to 1.5 mg of copper, you’ll also absorb Vitamins A, C, E and D, & everything from thiamin to magnesium, selenium to calcium. As a daily overall immune booster, a multivitamin is extremely convenient and generally affordable.
Alternative Ways of Improving Your Copper Intake
Remembering to take daily supplements is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people detest the act of swallowing pills, and probably aren’t too thrilled about mixing liquid copper into their water every morning either.
Fortunately, copper supplements can be a last resort when attempting to increase copper levels in the body. There are other measures one can take before turning to supplements, namely diet and copper infused water.
The 75% of people who aren’t walking around with an existing copper deficiency are either already on supplements or they are eating just right. Since the human body cannot produce copper on its own, it always has to come from the outside in one form or another.
Copper-rich foods are the easiest and most natural way of getting more copper into the body. The best sources of food-based copper include varieties of seafood and sea vegetables, animal organ meats and legumes.
Vegans are more susceptible to copper deficiency when they don’t know which fruits and vegetables to increase in order to compensate for the elimination of meat. It’s easy to get enough copper from plants, but you need to know what to look for. Gram for gram, spirulina is one of the most nutrient dense foods one can put into their body — it also contains a naturally high copper content.
Learning how to reap the rewards of food-derived copper eliminates all need for supplement use. However, food-derived copper is usually only a suitable option for individuals with low levels of copper deficiency. The average diet will only give the eater roughly 1 mg of extra copper per day.
Another option for increasing copper in those with mild deficiency is to start using a copper water bottle. These nifty devices have taken the health and wellness scene by storm. The benefits of drinking water that has come into contact with copper are immense. The idea was first presented through the ancient medical practice known as Ayurveda, where healing scriptures from 5,000 years ago suggest that drinking water from a copper cup, first thing in the morning, can balance one’s entire body.
Copper water bottles followed as a portable and convenient way of taking nutrient-dense, copper infused water with you anywhere and everywhere. With enough consumption, one could potentially eliminate the need for any kind of copper supplement, although you should consult with your doctor before attempting to remedy a copper deficiency exclusively through use of a copper water bottle. In addition, drinking from copper is safe with the risk of overdose far less likely relative to using copper supplements.
Are Copper Bracelets a Form of Copper Supplement?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. While copper bracelets would be an incredibly convenient solution to the problem of copper deficiency, there is no evidence available to support the notion that copper bracelets significantly elevate levels of copper inside of the body.
Copper bracelets have their place in health and wellness, and a potentially important one at that. However, they work via micro-absorption through the skin of the wrist, which means that if any copper is making it into the blood stream it’s only in trace amounts.
While copper bracelets might not be a form of copper supplement to combat copper deficiency, they can alleviate some of the symptoms that come as a result of copper deficiency.
Arthritis and joint pain is a common symptom associated with low levels of copper in the body. In order to combat the deficiency problem, one would need to take copper supplements or adjust their diet accordingly. To alleviate the joint pain and discomfort in the interim, whilst healing, a copper bracelet could offer symptomatic relief.
In summary, while copper suppements can be a great way to remedy a copper defieincy, you should always consult with a qualified medical professional become engaging in any copper supplementation. In addition, before taking copper supplements make sure to give some thought to alternate ways of increasing your copper intake, such as by eating more copper rich foods or drinking from a copper water bottle.
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment