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The Incredible Health Benefits of Copper

7 min read

By Emily Lockhart

Medically Reviewed by Patty Weasler, RN

For thousands of years, copper has played an important role in human history. For centuries it was a crucial mineral in the production of everything from tools to household goods. In time, copper became appreciated for its ability to be shaped and molded and to effectively hold fluids. Today, most of the plumbing running through our homes consists of copper pipes.

But it’s not just what copper can do for our homes that makes it valuable. Copper is also an important mineral for our bodies, as it contributes to the development of a healthy body through the maintenance of connective tissues, eyes, and even hair. Beyond that, the copper in our foods can help with the utilization of iron, helping us stay strong and energized and avoid the pitfalls of anemia. In case you’re wondering, there are many popular foods that contain ample amounts of copper, from seafood and red meat to almonds, avocados, garlic, and beets to lentils and soy flour. One of the richest sources of copper is oysters. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of copper’s main benefits for the human body.

Boost Metabolism

Our metabolism plays an essential role in helping our bodies take the fuel we provide, in the form of food, and turn it into energy capable of powering our muscles and internal organs. You can help boost the effectiveness of your metabolism by eating well and by regularly exercising. When functioning as it should, your metabolism can help you remain energetic and burn calories even when you’re at rest.

Copper can help with this process because the mineral has been shown to help enhance the metabolic process. In essence, this means you may be able to boost your energy levels and the effectiveness of your metabolism in burning calories for you by simply eating more foods that contain copper. An alternative would be taking multivitamins that feature this valuable mineral.

Fight Arthritis

One of the more devastating conditions that can take hold as we age is arthritis, a condition that affects the bones and joints and can make performing simple, everyday tasks — like cooking, cleaning, or even reading a book — very painful. That’s why many arthritis sufferers turn to powerful medications designed to alleviate pain but may not be able to actually help fight the condition itself.

Copper, meanwhile, may be able to help prevent arthritis from taking hold. If not, it could help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. This is because copper plays an important part in building and maintaining healthy connective tissues, or those that link bones and joints together. Stronger connective tissues can take pressure off the joints, potentially alleviating many of the symptoms associated with arthritis.

Feel Energetic

Every day, billions of people get up and go to work, school, or some activity that requires mental and physical concentration. To get the energy they need to meet these demands, many people turn to stimulants like caffeine, which is available in beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks, or in supplement form. But relying on caffeine can be a problem, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, excessive caffeine consumption can make it hard to sleep, which can result in a vicious cycle of depending on caffeine to get through the day. Additionally, too much caffeine places a lot of pressure on the heart, leading to a range of serious health problems.

Thankfully, there are ways to feel energetic without using caffeine. It starts with a healthy diet and regular exercise. From there, it’s important to consume vitamins and minerals, like copper, that have been shown to help enhance the metabolic process and improve energy levels. Because copper is so essential to the functioning of the metabolism, it’s crucial to consume foods rich in the mineral every day.

Take on Thyroid Disorders

If you or someone you know has a thyroid disorder, you’ll be familiar with the many potentially devastating symptoms associated with the condition. Individuals who have problems with their thyroid often feel lethargic, experience hair and weight loss, have problems digesting their food, and may even break out in sores.

Part of the issue is that a thyroid disorder can make it difficult for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals. To counteract this issue, many doctors recommend patients try to compensate by consuming more minerals like copper, which has been shown to help improve thyroid functionality while boosting the body’s metabolic process. While consuming foods high in copper won’t eliminate thyroid disorders, it can certainly help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with these health issues.

Proper Growth

One of the most crucial tasks of any parent is to ensure their kids eat foods that will help them grow into healthy and strong young adults. In general, this means discouraging children from eating highly processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat, like chips and candy, and encouraging them to eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

But there’s also a need for parents to have their kids eat foods that are high in copper, such as wheat bran, nuts, seafood, and red meat. That’s because these copper-heavy foods can help in the protection of critical systems, including the skeletal, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. Additionally, copper has been linked with a strong metabolism, which can provide kids with the energy they need to get out and be active.

Maintain Proper Melanin Production

Melanin is a natural and dark pigment that helps to color the skin, hair, and eyes. Copper is a vital component in melanin and, as such, can play a central role in helping you maintain healthy-looking skin, hair, and eyes.

And it’s not just about the superficial element. Copper can help keep these parts of your body feeling healthy, meaning your skin remains supple and avoids the painful sores that can emerge when a copper deficiency is present. Additionally, copper can help keep our eyes functioning properly, something that becomes particularly important as we age. To give your eyes even more help, try consuming foods that contain both copper and zinc.

Softer, More Healthy Skin

While copper can help our bodies regulate melanin production, which helps keep our eyes, hair, and skin looking and feeling healthy, there’s another side to the story when it comes to the look and feel of our skin. That’s because copper also assists in the synthesizing of hemoglobin and collagen, both of which play an important role in helping keep our skin moist and flexible, meaning it’s less likely to tear or break out.

That’s why anyone with dry skin or some other kind of skin health problem should consider getting more copper in their diet. When combined with topical moisturizing creams, it can help in bringing elasticity back to the skin. As we age, copper can also help fight wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of aging.

Stimulate the Brain

There are few organs more important than the brain, which is why it’s so important to consume foods that have been linked with increased brain stimulation. One group of foods shown to help with this: those containing omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in walnuts, salmon, mackerel, and eggs.

But copper can also be helpful in keeping the brain functioning as it should. Research has shown that people who regularly consumed high-copper foods demonstrated better thought processes and were more able to approach a problem in unique, out-of-the-box ways.

Avoid Anemia

Anemia is a condition caused by low red blood cell count and it’s often caused by insufficient iron. It’s prevalent in people who have conditions, such as Celiac Disease, that make it difficult for the body to properly absorb iron.

For these individuals, copper is a particularly useful mineral because a body that’s provided with daily doses of copper is more effective at absorbing iron. In essence, copper can help minimize the impact of conditions like Celiac Disease. For individuals with anemia and general iron deficiency, this may help them feel more energetic and overcome feelings of lethargy, digestive problems, muscle pain, and the other issues that arise when red blood cell counts are low.

Look, Feel Younger

Every year, billions of dollars are spent by people looking for a way to reverse the aging process however slightly — maybe they want tighter, softer skin; maybe they want shinier, more colorful hair; maybe they just want to feel more energetic and capable of meeting the challenges of their lifestyles. In any case, it often results in people spending thousands on makeup, supplements, and medications designed to help fight aging.

Copper can help in this fight because it’s a strong antioxidant capable of fighting free radicals and slowing the aging process. Free radicals, which can invade cell membranes and cause their breakdown, are strongly linked with aging and the emergence of serious health issues. By consuming foods high in antioxidants, like those containing copper, individuals can help take steps towards feeling and looking younger.

Evade E. Coli

E. coli is a bacterial strain that, when consumed, can cause havoc in the body. E. coli usually enters the body through foods that have been improperly preserved or have spoiled. Failing to keep a kitchen clean can result in the spread of E. coli and the emergence of food poisoning that, in some extreme cases, can even lead to death.

You can take a stand against E. coli by adding foods high in copper to your daily diet. That’s because copper has been closely linked with the breakdown of bacterial strains like E. coli. Not only may that save you from getting really sick, but it could also help you fight off a variety of infections capable of making life miserable and disturbing your regular routine.

Cut Cholesterol Levels

For adults over age 50, cholesterol often becomes a major health concern, particularly for individuals with a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. That’s because higher levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, have been linked with the onset of serious health conditions that, if not treated properly, could lead to death.

Copper can help fight LDL cholesterol because it’s been linked to the growth and development of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. By increasing your HDL cholesterol levels, you can help your cardiovascular system keep heart disease and stroke at bay.


Patty is a freelance health writer and nurse (BSN, CCRN). She has worked as a critical care nurse for over 10 years and loves educating people about their health. When she's not working, Patty enjoys any outdoor activity that she can do with her husband and three kids.

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