Copper, a normal constituent of blood, is another established essential micronutrient.


Copper is a component of many enzymes, and symptoms of copper deficiency are attributable to enzyme failures. Copper in ceruloplasmin has a well­documented role in oxidizing iron before it is transported in the plasma. Lysyl oxidase, a copper­containing enzyme, is essential in the lysine­derived cross­linking of collagen and elastin, connective tissue proteins with great tensile strength.

Food Sources and Intakes

Copper is distributed widely in foods, including animal products (except for milk), and most diets provide between0.6  and 2 mg/day. Foods high in copper are shellfish (oysters), organ meats (liver, kidney), muscle meats, chocolate, nuts, cereal grains, dried legumes, and dried fruits.


Copper deficiency is characterized by anemia, neutropenia, and skeletal abnormalities, especially demineralization. Neutropenia and leukopenia are the best early indications of copper deficiency in children.

Classic cases of copper deficiency were reported among infants who were poorly nourished, had diarrhea, and were fed diluted cow’s milk. Other cases of deficiency have been reported. Premature infants are likely to have copper deficiency unless given a supplement because most of the copper is normally transferred across the placenta during the last few months of a full­term pregnancy. Because diets in developing countries continue to be low in copper, pregnancy outcomes need to be monitored.

DRI Range
0.2-­1.3 mg/day, depending on age and gender.