Last reviewed 01/2018

Copper is the chemical element at number 29 in the periodic table, symbol Cu. It is an essential micronutrient for the human body.

Most of the copper in the human body is present as Cu+ (cuprous) and oxidized Cu2+ (cupric) compounds. It is

  • absorbed in the duodenum and proximal jejunum
  • transported bound mainly to ceruloplasmin (about 65%–90%); the remaining  is bound to albumin,
  • stored in the liver and spleen
  • excreted either in a non-absorbed form or via the bile (1)

Average daily intake of Cu is between 0.5 and 1.5 mg

  • sources of copper include - eggs, whole-wheat flour, beans, nuts, beets, liver, fish, spinach, and asparagus
  • total amount of copper in an adult is estimated to be about 90–110 mg (1)

Highest concentration of Cu is seen in

  • bones - about 47% of the total body Cu
  • skeletal muscles - about 27% of the total body Cu
  • liver – between 8-11% of the total body Cu
  • brain – between 8-11% of the total body Cu (1)

Within the brain Cu is prominently seen in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebellum, numerous synaptic membranes, and in the cell bodies of cortical pyramidal and cerebellar granular neurons (2)

Copper excess is seen in Wilson's disease.