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.
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.
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.
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.
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 9 best copper supplements.
We only selected supplements made according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards and thoroughly evaluated for potency and purity.
*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:
- 30 mg of zinc
- 2 mg of copper (as bisglycinate)
- 200 mcg of selenium
- 250 mcg of iodine
- 4 mg of manganese
- 200 mcg chromium
- 200 mcg molybdenum
- 99 mg potassium
- 500 mcg boron
- 150 mcg vanadium
- 100 mcg horsetail (source of silica)
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.
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.
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:
- Poor immunity
- Prematurely gray hair
- Pale skin
- An irregular heartbeat
- Bone fractures
You’re more likely to struggle with low copper if you have a malabsorption condition like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease.
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.
You can improve your copper intake by adding these foods to your daily diet:
- Organ meats (beef liver, kidneys, heart)
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains and legumes
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults is 900 mcg. 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.
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 medical doctors. 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 supplements are not safe for people with a rare genetic condition called Wilson’s disease. This results in a build-up of copper in the brain, liver, and kidneys.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but please check with your healthcare provider before taking a copper supplement.
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.
Disclaimer: Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.