Copper is a metal that is essential for bodily function. It is present in food products like leafy greens, nuts, and dark chocolate. Copper has been used to ease symptoms of depression and swelling in the joints. It can be taken as a pill or extract. Copper can also be applied to the skin as a gel. It can also be injected into the bloodstream to treat copper deficiency by a health provider.
2 milligrams once daily
What Research Shows
There is not enough data to support that copper is helpful in treating health problems other than copper deficiency, which is rare.A1 We will review future studies as they are published.
May Not Be Effective
- Diarrhea —may not provide benefit B1
- Menopause —may not improve bone health C1
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to use copper products on the skin and to take copper orally in small doses for a short time, but rash is possible when applied as a gel. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children should especially avoid high doses of copper. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A. Copper Deficiency
A1. Prodan CI, Rabadi M, et al. Copper supplementation improves functional activities of daily living in adults with copper deficiency. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2011 Mar;12(3):122-128.
B1. Patel AB, Dibley MJ, et al. Therapeutic zinc and copper supplementation in acute diarrhea does not influence short-term morbidity and growth: double-blind randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2013 Jan;32(1):91-93.
C1. Nielsen FH, Lukaski HC, et al. Reported zinc, but not copper, intakes influence whole-body bone density, mineral content and T score responses to zinc and copper supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2011 Dec;106(12):1872-1879.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board
Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/22/2020