Top 8 Foods High in Copper

Copper, an essential mineral, plays an important role in bone formation, connective tissue production, as well as, the coding process of specific enzymes needed for the production of melanin and the elimination of free radicals from the human body. If a person has a copper deficiency, the risk for various medical conditions will be higher, such as for osteoporosis, anemia, joint pain, lower immunity, etc. Foods rich in copper are recommended in these cases in order to restore copper levels and eliminate the deficiency.

Foods High in Copper

1. Seafood and Meat

Beef liver is perhaps the food richest in copper. Other types of meat such as beef heart or beef kidneys are great sources of copper as well. Some kinds of seafood are also rich in copper, such as oysters, crab meat, lobster, clams, etc.

One ounce of beef liver contains about 4,049 micrograms of copper, while one medium oyster contains about 670 micrograms of copper. Just 3 ounces of clams will provide you 585 micrograms of copper, and the same amount of cooked crab meat will provide you 624 micrograms of copper.

2. Fruits and Vegetables

In general, fruits and vegetables are not that high in copper even though they have many other health benefits. However, certain types of fruits and vegetables also contain copper in various amounts, such as avocado, bananas, grapes, sweet potato, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.

One cup of sun dried tomatoes has been estimated to contain about 768 micrograms of copper, while one large baked potato contains about 320 micrograms of copper.

3. Nuts and Beans

Certain types of nuts are foods high in copper. It has been estimated that one ounce of sunflower seeds contains about 519 micrograms of copper. In addition, there are 629 micrograms in cashews, 332 micrograms in almonds, 496 micrograms in hazelnuts, 497 micrograms in cooked lentils, etc.

4. Chocolate

If you are a chocolate lover you can boost up your copper intake as well. In one ounce of dark chocolate containing up to 85% of cacao, about 500 micrograms of copper can be found. With just a piece of chocolate, you can provide yourself half of the recommended copper daily intake.

5. Cereal

Enriched cereals are also commonly fortified with copper, so they should be part of your daily diet as well. In just one cup of enriched cereals, about 100 micrograms of copper are found. About 257 micrograms of copper are found in one cup of bran cereals.

6. Eggs

Other foods high in copper are the eggs, especially egg yolks. Everyone who is not a meat fan and also does not eat seafood can consume eggs, especially egg yolks, in order to prevent a copper deficiency.

The healthiest way of eating egg yolks is by boiling them. However, there are many recipes which include just the egg yolk. 

7. Spices and Herbs

Both spices and herbs are very good sources of copper and for this reason, they should be included in your diet and meals. Spices rich in copper are mustard, chili powder, cumin, peppermint, curry powder, onion powder, cloves, dill mace, coriander leaf, celery seeds, etc. Herbs rich in copper are marjoram, chervil, thyme, tarragon, etc.

8. Beverages

Certain beverages like coffee, black tea, beer or wine are also foods high in copper. However, you should be careful about how many cups of coffee or black tea you drink a day, as well as how many glasses of beer or wine.

Normally, excessive consumption of caffeine is not healthy. Also, you probably would not want to end up drunk when trying to boost the levels of copper in your organism. Consume these beverages moderately and they can increase the daily intake of copper.

How Much Copper Should You Get Each Day?

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science, in 2011 has published Dietary Reference Intakes of copper which can be found in the following table:


Copper Needed

0 – 6 months

0.2 mg

6 – 12 months

0.22 mg

1 – 3 years

0.34 mg

4 – 8 years

0.4 mg

9 – 13 years

0.7 mg

14 – 18 years

0.89 mg

19 + years

0.9 mg

Pregnant women

1.0 mg

Lactating women

1.3 mg












The daily value of copper per 2000 calories is about 2 mg. A tolerable upper intake level of copper a day is about 10 mg for both men and women.

Watch for Zinc Deficiency

Too much copper can lead to zinc deficiency, and too much zinc can lead to copper deficiency. For this reason, you need to watch for how much zinc you are taking a day.

It is recommended for women to take about 11 mg of zinc a day, while for men it is recommended to take about 13 mg of zinc a day. If your zinc levels are normal and if you take adequate amounts of zinc each day, your immune system will benefit, cell division will be promoted, and a proper sense of smell and taste is ensured. Foods high in zinc such as chicken legs, crab meat, lobster, oysters, fortified cereals, etc., should be part of your diet.

Toxicity Warning

According to the Agricultural Research Service, more than 7,800 mg of copper a day are not healthy and can even have negative effects on the human body. In cases of excessive copper in the organism, toxicity may develop with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
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