✓ Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Dr. Jesse Ropat, PharmD, RPh, B.Sc.
If you took science class in high school, you most likely know copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It’s used in electrical wiring, construction, and fancy cookware (don’t worry, there isn’t a quiz at the end of this).
The type of copper we’re talking about is an essential trace mineral in the human body that’s good buddies with iron.
It’s not discussed often, but if you’re experiencing fatigue, low iron levels, or osteoporosis, your copper levels may be out of whack.
Today, we’ll take a deep dive into the role of copper in human health and how to identify a copper deficiency. We’ll also review the best and safest copper supplements on the market.
Copper (Cu) is an essential mineral that you need for a plethora of bodily functions. Most of it (around 70%) is stored in our muscles and bones.
Copper’s primary role in the body is as a cofactor in enzymes known as cuproenzymes. These are crucial for red blood cell formation, energy production, iron absorption, collagen building, and brain development.
As a trace mineral, a little copper goes a long way. However, your body doesn’t make copper, so you must get it from your diet (or supplements).
Sadly, it is one of the least talked-about essential minerals, often flying under the radar.
Copper is a cofactor needed to synthesize superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant enzyme in your body. It neutralizes nasty free radicals and keeps oxidative cell damage to a minimum. This study found taking between 3-6 mg of copper daily safely increased SOD levels.
Let’s look at a few other key benefits of copper.
Low copper levels could affect your cardiovascular system.
Firstly, its role in collagen formation makes it essential for maintaining the strength, integrity, and elasticity of your blood vessels. This influences blood pressure control. Even more importantly, it’s also involved in forming red blood cells.
That said, it’s a fine balance; you don’t want to take too much copper and create other problems. Please work with your doctor if you have heart issues.
Research shows you need copper to produce collagen and elastin – the most important structural proteins in the skin. Collagen and elastin give your skin (and other connective tissue) strength, elasticity, and flexibility. In fact, research shows wound dressings containing copper oxide may improve wound healing. Without copper, we simply couldn’t function.
Copper keeps your bones strong (thanks to its role in collagen formation). For this reason, it’s often found in bone and joint health supplements (along with calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and boron).
This study on postmenopausal women found low copper levels predicted low bone mineral density. And another study on postmenopausal women showed supplementing with 3 mg/day of copper maintained bone mineral density.
In general, low levels of serum copper lead to lower bone mineral density (BMD). However, levels higher than the normal range were associated with an increased risk of fracture. The impacts are also closely reflected in patients with Wilson Disease (WD, a genetic condition where copper is poorly regulated, leading to excess). In WD patients, their BMD is normal, but their fracture risk is high. This may be due to poor bone formation in the presence of excess copper, affecting the bone microstructure.
While copper is an essential mineral, not everyone needs a copper supplement.
That said, soil quality worldwide is declining – it’s hard to know if you’re getting enough copper from sources like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Plus, other high-copper foods like oysters, squid, mussels, clams, and organ meats don’t make it into the modern diet often. So, while severe deficiency is rare, marginal copper deficiency is surprisingly common.
In addition, pregnant or lactating women, those with malabsorption conditions, and people with anemia are at greater risk of copper deficiency.
If you want extra copper, here is our list of the 11 best copper supplements.
We only selected supplements made according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards and thoroughly evaluated for potency and purity.
Best Overall: Upgraded Copper
Best Bulk: Pure Bulk Supplements Copper Gluconate
Best Combination: Seeking Health Trace Minerals Complex
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
In the top spot, we have a copper supplement unlike any other.
Upgraded Copper is pretty frikkin’ cool. It uses Stabilized Nano Mineral Technology to aid absorption, giving it a 99.99% absorption rate.
Most copper supplements on the market are hit-and-miss. It’s hard to know exactly how much makes it to your bloodstream. Upgraded Copper improves cellular absorption. The nano mineral size allows this mineral to largely bypass digestion. It slips through your intestinal lining and into your cells quickly and effortlessly!
Each 2 ml serving delivers 1.5 mg of Nano Copper Sulfate suspended in purified water and fulvic acid, a natural organic acid with numerous health benefits.
So, how do you take it?
It comes with a convenient dropper, which you can squeeze into water, juice, or a smoothie (I’d suggest mixing it with juice, as the metallic taste isn’t great).
A 2 oz bottle costs $32.00. This is a little more expensive compared to other copper supplements. However, the higher absorption rate means you can take a lower dose and get more out of a bottle. Plus, their 100-day money-back guarantee removes any risk.
This company produces supplements in cGMP-approved facilities, and every batch is third-party tested for purity.
For these reasons, Upgraded Copper is our #1 choice if you’re looking for a quality copper supplement.
Thorne Research Copper provides 2 mg of highly absorbable TRAACS® Copper Bisglycinate per capsule.
The formula is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and contains no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or fillers.
Each bottle contains 60 capsules (a 2-month supply).
Thorne supplements are thoroughly tested, and their manufacturing facility has an “A” rating from NSF International. This is one of the strictest third-party cGMP certification programs for health supplements.
Codeage is an anti-aging brand that manufactures cGMP-certified products with cutting-edge technology and impeccable testing standards. Their Amen range of supplements includes a zinc/copper + probiotic formula to support your immune system and overall wellness.
Each capsule delivers 50 mg of zinc picolinate, 2 mg of copper glycinate, and 2 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) of B. subtilis bacteria.
Copper and zinc compete for absorption, so regular zinc supplements (without copper) can create a deficiency. However, this formula replaces copper to prevent mineral imbalances.
It’s vegan, non-GMO, paleo, and keto-friendly. Plus, it is dairy, soy, wheat, and gluten-free – making it suitable for people with various allergies and dietary restrictions.
You can pick a 3-month supply up for just $19.99. Plus, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee – so there’s no risk.
Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) is an independently tested, quality-assured brand.
Zinc-Copper Balance™ provides (as the name suggests) a balanced ratio of zinc to copper for optimal absorption. Each capsule provides 15 mg of zinc (from zinc citrate and zinc succinate) and 2 mg of copper (from copper citrate).
It’s non-GMO and free from gluten, corn, peanuts, soy, dairy, and eggs.
Zemvelo products are formulated with bioavailability in mind. Their liquid mineral formulas use angstrom-sized water-soluble minerals to ensure maximum cellular absorption.
Zemvelo Liquid Copper is made from pure elemental copper sulfate sourced from Butte, Montana. It’s suspended in carbohydrate-derived fulvic acid (CHD-FA).
This product is vegan and non-GMO. It’s also excellent value for money – an 8 oz. 96-day supply sells for $23.99 (or $21.59 if you subscribe for a delivery every 3 months).
Seeking Health Trace Minerals Complex delivers essential trace minerals in bioavailable chelated forms for optimal absorption. This helps to maintain healthy mineral levels without creating imbalances.
Each capsule contains:
This formula is vegan-friendly and free from GMOs, eggs, gluten, dairy, peanuts, and additives. A bottle of 30 capsules will last 1 month — and costs just $15.95.
Seeking Health is third-party-tested and NSF-accredited.
Solaray is a high-quality brand manufacturing lab-verified, affordable supplements made from the purest ingredients. Their Copper supplement is ideal for newbies – every serving contains 2 mg of copper in a bioavailable amino acid chelate complex.
This dietary supplement is vegan, soy-free, and non-GMO. One bottle contains 100 servings.
If you’re looking for an affordable bulk option, you can’t go wrong with Pure Bulk Copper Powder. A serving contains 2 mg of copper gluconate – a copper salt derived from D-gluconic acid. Gluconate has a chelating effect, bonding to copper and making it easier to absorb.
You can get a wide range of sizes – from 50 grams to 25 kilograms. It’s free from sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, and additives. However, I suggest adding the powder to juice or a smoothie to mask the coppery taste.
Pure Bulk is third-party-tested and manufactures all supplements according to cGMP standards.
Solgar is one of the OGs in health supplements – they’ve been in the business since 1947.
Their Chelated Copper tablets provide 2.5 mg of copper glycinate. It’s certified gluten-free, non-GMO, suitable for vegans, and kosher.
You can grab a bottle of 100 tablets from iHerb for a great deal.
If you’re looking for a solid choice, this might be it. It’s got all the labels you’re looking for: non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, milk-free… it’s just not free, but pretty close.
For $12.95 (and you can usually get a discount for signing up with them), you get 90 capsules, or 90 days of copper goodness.
Bluebonnet is GMP certified, third-party tested, and their product has 3 mg of copper in each capsule.
What more could you want?
Oh, it’s formulated using the bisglycinate chelated version, which, yes, is second best, but second is still pretty great.
Nutrabio is a reputable company with a solid product, at a stellar price point.
For approximately $8.99, you get 3 months worth (90 capsules). That’s like, 10 cents a day. Pretty good deal.
They use Albion Minerals Copper Glycinate Chelate in their products, which is highly bioavailable.
They are GMP certified, with full label transparency, and they third-party test their stuff, so you know what you’re getting.
We ranked these products, but we want you to decide on the best product for your needs. To do that, you need to understand how we ranked.
Here are factors we considered when researching the best copper supplement.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as it does pharmaceuticals.
For this reason, we prioritize reputable companies that adhere to cGMP regulations and use independent testing.
You can trust the products on our list are pure and meet the strictest safety standards.
All the copper supplements are chosen with bioavailability in mind.
Upgraded Copper is the top product on our list for this reason – it uses nano-particles for effortless cellular absorption.
We made sure these supplements don’t contain allergens and additives. They’re all free from sugar, artificial flavors, soy, gluten, dairy, corn, and shellfish.
Improving your wellness shouldn’t put you out of pocket.
We weighed the cost of each product against the number of servings, dose per serving, and overall quality to decide which supplements are the best value.
Not only is it necessary for cell survival, proliferation, it is also involved in the development and progression of brain diseases. In some copper-deficient diseases, appropriate copper supplementation is beneficial for injury recovery.
When we have low levels of copper, we open ourselves up to risks of cognitive and motor diseases, and inflammatory diseases due to oxidative stress.
Severe copper deficiency is rare in developed countries. It’s unlikely if you eat a varied, whole-food diet (assuming you don’t have a malabsorption condition).
However, signs of a marginal (or sub-clinical) copper deficiency may include:
You’re more likely to struggle with low copper if you have a malabsorption condition like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease.
The most obvious answer is: not taking in enough Copper. We cannot synthesize it, so we have to get it from our diet, or from supplements.
As well, some other supplements may be affecting your Copper levels. For example, excessive zinc intake can also cause copper depletion (by impairing copper absorption).
Blood tests for copper aren’t reliable – it’s not easy to test for trace minerals in general. Experts recommend using hair mineral analysis to determine trace mineral deficiencies.
Yes! Your body doesn’t make copper, so it must come from food or supplements. On our list below, you’ll notice tons of seafood – oysters, crabs, mussels are packed with copper.
You can improve your copper intake by adding these foods to your daily diet:
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults is 900 mcg (note: 1000 mcg = 1 mg). This climbs to 1000-1300 mcg for pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, as with most RDA values, this is considered the minimum to avoid deficiency.
The tolerable upper limit for copper is 10 mg per day for adults. This is the amount you can take but shouldn’t exceed per day. Most copper supplements suggest taking between 1.5 – 2.5 mg of supplemental copper.
Proper brain and nervous system development relies on copper-dependent enzymes.
This makes copper an essential trace mineral for healthy fetal neurological development. It’s one of the reasons doctors advise women to take a good prenatal multivitamin containing copper when pregnant and during lactation.
Copper is notoriously hard to absorb in its natural state. It must be bound to other compounds to improve absorption – like amino acids, citrate, or sulfate molecules.
Liquid copper sulfate supplements using nano mineral technology are preferable (like in the case of Upgraded Copper). Liquid minerals don’t require digestion and get straight to your cells.
When it comes to bioavailability, copper bisglycinate is in second place. Copper citrate is a close third, and is the most common form you will see on the market due to its low cost. This does, however, impact bioavailability.
In your body, micronutrients work synergistically to maintain homeostasis. However, some nutrients compete for absorption at a cellular level.
Taking high doses of copper may deplete your zinc and vitamin C levels – and vice versa. Experts suggest taking extra zinc and vitamin C with a copper supplement.
Some medications may interfere with the absorption of copper, like antacids.
Again, I must reiterate that while we do thorough research, we aren’t physicians. Your doctor should be your first port of call when taking new supplements.
Copper (taken at the recommended dose) is safe for most people and not linked to side effects. However, there are risks if you take too much over a long period.
Copper toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, fevers, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even kidney and liver failure.
Copper is a lesser-discussed essential trace mineral with a range of functions – including activating a series of powerful enzymes in your body.
Some people need a supplement to get enough of this mineral. If you’re looking for the best copper supplement, our thoroughly researched list will help.
Copper is involved in just about every organ system in our body, and it plays a key role as previously mentioned. It’s a key cofactor for enzymes, and one such enzyme is cytochrome C oxidase (you might remember this from the electron transport chain – I hope this isn’t triggering your high school self).
Not only a cofactor, it also functions in the regulation of blood clotting, blood pressure, connective tissue linking, brain myelination (that fatty sheath around our neurons), hormone synthesis, and even maintaining iron levels. These reasons are why trace mineral supplements, while often overlooked, are so crucial. The amount of copper we take in plays a tremendous role in our overall health. In children, if they are copper deficient, it can predispose them to osteoporosis. Which brings us to the next point:
While the muscle and bones contain the majority of our copper, the brain comes in at #3, and contains about 10%. We have supporting cells in our brain, called Glial cells, which typically have more copper than our neurons. There are also certain areas where copper is more concentrated than others. In people who develop Alzheimer’s Disease, or who have Wilson Disease (the genetic condition we just discussed), their copper distribution deviates from the norm.
There are some interesting advances in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) care. In AD, it is diagnosed by the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles found in the brain, usually in the elderly. The amyloid plaques, in the presence of copper, can produce massive amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS), damaging the brain further. Some studies have explored the use of copper chelating agents (these scavenge excess copper and remove it from the field of play).In some AD patients, copper concentrations in the brain have been nearly 4x the normal range. So, copper can be beneficial in some, but not all.
Copper is involved in our inflammatory response in a variety of ways. When we are under acute stress (infection, trauma), our copper concentrations tend to rise.
Lack of copper not only impacts our ability to mount an inflammatory response, but also negatively impacts our immune response.
Research is now piling up regarding how copper deficiency can cause Immune tolerance (a weaker response than what we would like), since copper is key for differentiating our immune cells so they can do their job. For example, Macrophages destroy pathogens through copper ion mobilization, to create a copper-rich environment.
In animal studies, the mice who were copper deficient had all sorts of issues. Low thymus weight, anemia, enlarged spleens, DNA damage (copper has antioxidant properties, and oxidative stress can damage our DNA), and neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
I just eluded to it, so let’s also discuss…
Oxidative stress occurs when we produce too many reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lack antioxidant defenses. Several key antioxidant enzymes rely on copper to do their job, including: superoxide dismutase (SOD), ceruloplasmin (CP), glutathione (GSH), and metallothionein.
Low CP activity is a hallmark of copper deficiency. We also sometimes see elevated GSH levels, which is the body compensating for other systems being down.
With these enzymes functioning at sub-par levels, we can accumulate oxidative stress more rapidly, leading to the negative outcomes we’ve listed above.
In short: everyone. However, it is more important in some individuals:
– Infants: babies are at a higher risk of copper toxicity, because their copper absorption and their biliary excretion routes are not fully functional yet.
– People with Wilson Disease (WD): this genetic condition prevents people from removing excess copper, leading to a build up and eventual toxicity.
– People with Biliary cirrhosis
– Pregnant women: your copper needs increase during pregnancy, as well as lactation.
Disclaimer: Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.