This metal is an important constituent of enzymes, and figures prominently in the building of red blood cells, connective tissue, nerve coverings, and skin pigment.

Good sources of copper are seafoods (especially oysters), nuts, seeds, legumes, dried beans, cocoa powder, wheat-bran cereals, whole-grain foods, and organ meats.


A copper deficiency may lead to anemia and serious changes in bone and neural structures.


An oversupply of copper can produce violent vomiting and liver damage. (One practice that can lead to oversupply is cooking acidic foods in copper pots.)


Your Daily Allowance


Because copper had no official Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Diet Power used to set your Personal Daily Allowance (PDA) in the middle of a range called the Estimated Safe and Adequate Amount (ESAA), established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). In January 2001, however, the FNB finally announced copper RDAs. Diet Power now sets your PDA at the RDA for your age and reproductive state. For people 14* to 18 years old, the RDA is 890 micrograms. For those 19 and older, it's 900 micrograms. During pregnancy it's 1000 micrograms; during lactation, 1300 micrograms.


Upper Limit


Also in January 2001, the FNB announced a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for copper. People 14* to 18 years old should get no more than 8000 micrograms per day; people 19 and older, no more than 10,000 micrograms per day. (The same figures apply to women who are pregnant or lactating.)


* Please remember that Diet Power is not designed for people under 15.


Revising Your Allowance


Diet Power automatically sets your Personal Daily Allowance of copper when you enroll in the program, but you can change your PDA to reflect your physician's recommendation. See Personal Daily Allowances, Editing Your.


Color Coding of This Nutrient


The copper bar in your personal Nutrient History is:


   image\diet0036.gif blue for "good" if you've logged 100 to 130 percent of your PDA


   image\diet0037.gif red for "bad" if you've logged less than 100 percent of your PDA or more than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)


   image\diet0042.gif yellow for "caution" if you've logged more than 130 percent of your PDA


   image\diet0038.gif missing if you've logged no copper.


In the nutrient profile of a food or recipe, the copper bar is:


   image\diet0039.gif green for "good" if getting your entire PDA of calories from this item would give you more than 150 percent of your PDA of copper


   image\diet0040.gif magenta for "bad" if getting all your calories from the item would give you less than 50 percent of your PDA of copper


   image\diet0036.gif blue for "neutral" otherwise


   image\diet0038.gif missing if the amount of copper is either zero or (when the word Copper is grayed out) unknown.

How Complete Are Diet Power's Copper Readings?


For the 8500 generic items in the Food Dictionary: fairly complete. Only 12 percent list their copper content as "unknown."


For the 2500 chain-restaurant items: totally incomplete. All list copper as "unknown."


For all 11,000 items combined: not terribly complete. About 30 percent list copper as "unknown."


These figures mean that if you frequently log chain-restaurant foods (or user-added foods with missing copper readings), your Nutrient History may underreport your intake of copper by a few points.


To see whether a particular food has a copper reading, open the Food Dictionary and check the food's nutrient profile. If you find a question mark beside "Copper," it means the amount is unknown. (To see all foods with unknown copper readings, click the dictionary's PowerFoods tab and sort the foods by copper power; then scroll toward the bottom of the list until you see foods with question marks in the "Power Rating" column.)


Copper on Food Labels


Nutrition labels are not required to report copper content, but some do voluntarily. They usually cite it as a percentage of the Daily Value (DV).


The Daily Value for copper is 2.0 milligrams, or 2000 micrograms. (Why so much higher than the RDAs? Because all Daily Values are based on the RDAs of 1968, which for some nutrients were different from today's.) The Daily Value is not necessarily right for you, howeverit's a rough estimate meant to cover most of the U.S. population. (Remember, too, that the Daily Value does not yet reflect the January 2001 decrease in this mineral's RDA. See above.)


For more on label regulations, see Labels, Food.