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Copper - the trace element for the immune system, blood circulation and nervous system

After you were able to find out more about iron and zinc in our previous articles, today we would like to introduce you to the third of the most important trace elements: copper. We summarize for you what vital functions it supports in your body, which foods you can use to meet your needs and why both a deficiency and an overdose of copper can be dangerous.

What do you need copper for?

Like the other trace elements, copper is found to be involved in many metabolic processes and the formation of different enzymes. It has a special position in our iron metabolism and blood formation, because copper makes iron absorption easier and makes the production of red blood cells possible in the first place. Iron also needs copper to be able to produce hemoglobin, the red blood pigment, because it is present in the blood plasma and the iron is only mobilized. The formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells is also directly dependent on the trace element. It is probably not surprising that copper healing also promotes wound healing.

Another vital function of copper is the activation of many enzymes in the so-called respiratory chain. This consists of various metabolic reactions, which are responsible for the energy generation from your food and the oxygen utilization. It also contributes to the transport of electrons. Without copper, your cellular respiration would not be able to run properly.

You probably already thought it: Kuper is also very important for our immune system. It is not only anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating, but is also an indirect antioxidant. Copper helps enzymes to ward off the free radicals that can harm our cells. In this way, it is significantly involved in our health and also in our aging process. Because if you didn't know that: Free radicals lead to wrinkles and age spots.

Due to its presence in many enzymes and protein compounds, the trace element can also be found in bones, muscles and organs such as the liver. Here it supports, for example, the synthesis of various hormones in the nervous system and at the same time the building of new nerve fibers, your bone growth and the formation of collagen and elastin. Copper is also responsible for the formation of melanin. This pigment ensures the cell staining of your skin, hair and eyes. So if you have recently noticed that you are seeing more gray hair on your head, this could be a sign of a copper deficiency.

How do you recognize a copper deficiency?

In addition to the increased appearance of gray hair, there are of course many more symptoms that indicate a deficiency of the important trace element. These are similar to those of iron deficiency due to their involvement in blood formation. This includes above all

  • Anemia and the associated consequences such as tiredness, faster exhaustion and lower performance and concentration
  • Paleness and a changing color distribution (pigment disorders) of the skin due to the lack of melanin
  • A higher susceptibility to infection due to a weakened immune system
  • Broken bones, poorer connective tissue
  • depressions
  • Loss of appetite and diarrhea and the resulting weight loss
  • Disorders of the central nervous system as a result of inadequate supply of the brain with blood and its essential building blocks

But don't worry, you don't have to worry and run straight to buy a supplement. Because only a long-term and severe deficiency can lead to such pronounced health problems. In addition, a copper deficiency is rather rare in Germany and other industrialized countries, since we usually eat enough of it through food.

Of course, there are also health and nutritional causes that can prevent our body from absorbing and storing enough copper. For example, the absorption of copper is impaired in diseases such as diabetes, gastritis, hepatitis, cancer or high blood pressure, but the intake of high-dose zinc or vitamin C preparations can also inhibit the absorption.

Too much copper damages your body

Did you know that too much copper in your blood is just as unhealthy as too little? This is because our body needs only a small amount to function properly. By the way, the recommended daily intake for adults is 1.5 mg to 2.5 mg - for children under one year it is up to 0.6 mg, after which the requirement increases minimally to a maximum of 1 mg every year at the age of seven and on to a maximum of 1.5 mg until they are 15 years old.

Your body normally regulates the concentration quite well by releasing copper from the depots into the blood when necessary and excreting excess copper via bile, kidneys and intestines. While you are unlikely to consume too much copper with a healthy diet, contaminated foods or illnesses can lead to a storage problem. Then there are cell-damaging oxygen connections in our organism, neurological disorders or liver damage.

The right dose of copper from food

We have already briefly mentioned that (unless you have one of the diseases mentioned above) you can cover your daily needs relatively easily with a healthy and balanced diet. As with many other micronutrients, it is not only the content of the respective food that is important, but also the biological availability. In the case of copper, our body can use the trace element better from animal than from plant foods. So if you have a vegetarian or vegan diet, you have to keep this in mind.

To make sure you have all the important copper sources at a glance, we have put together a table for you. You can definitely meet your needs with these foods.

The respective top 5 copper sources, details per 100gr

Meat and poultry

Beef liver
 3.3 mg

Pork liver

1.3 mg

 0.24 mg

 0.22 mg


Cereal products

Whole grain oatmeal
 0.53 mg


Whole rye flour
 0.46 mg

Whole wheat flour
 0.46 mg

Oat groats
 0.45 mg


Whole wheat bread
 0.25 mg

Dairy products and egg

 1.17 mg

Parmesan cheese
 0.36 mg

 0.1-0.23 mg

 0.08 mg



 2.5 mg

 1.1 mg

 0.7 mg

 0.61 mg

Matje herring
 0.44 mg


 1.2 mg

Lima beans
 0.8 mg

 0.74 mg

White beans 0.64 mg

Chickpeas 0.45 mg


 0.32 mg

 0.3 mg

Lentil sprouts
 0.22 mg

 0.2 mg

 0.14 mg

Nuts and kernels

(Baking) cocoa powder
 3.8 mg

Cashew nuts
 3.7 mg

Sunflower seeds
 1.9 mg

Brazil nuts
 1.74 mg

 1.3 mg


[Please understand that this is only an approximate figure, since the nutritional level is of course also influenced by the growing region, feeding, maturity and other factors. For this reason, we have calculated an average of various reliable sources.]

We wish you lots of health and lots of fun trying out and combining these foods for an adequate copper supply.


Your Sanhelios team