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COPPER SUPPLEMENTS (Systemic)

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Cupri-Pak 2

Note:

For quick reference, the following copper supplements are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following:
1. Copper Gluconate (KOP-er GLOO-coh-nate)
2. CupricSulfate (KYOO-prikSUL-fate)
† Not commercially available in Canada
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.

Category

  • Nutritional supplement, mineral—Copper Gluconate; Cupric Sulfate

Description

Copper supplements are used to prevent or treat copper deficiency.

The body needs copper for normal growth and health. For patients who are unable to get enough copper in their regular diet or who have a need for more copper, copper supplements may be necessary. They are generally taken by mouth but some patients may have to receive them by injection. Copper is needed to help your body use iron. It is also important for nerve function, bone growth, and to help your body use sugar.

Lack of copper may lead to anemia and osteoporosis (weak bones).

Some conditions may increase your need for copper. These include:

  • Burns
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestine disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pancreas disease
  • Stomach removal
  • Stress, continuing

In addition, premature infants may need additional copper.

Increased need for copper should be determined by your health care professional.

Claims that copper supplements are effective in the treatment of arthritis or skin conditions have not been proven. Use of copper supplements to cause vomiting has caused death and should be avoided.

Injectable copper is given by or under the supervision of a health care professional. Another form of copper is available without a prescription.

Copper supplements are available in the following dosage forms:

  • Oral
  • Copper Gluconate
    • Tablets (U.S.)
  • Parenteral
  • Cupric Sulfate
    • Injection (U.S.)

Importance of Diet

For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods. If you think that you are not getting enough vitamins and/or minerals in your diet, you may choose to take a dietary supplement.

Copper is found in various foods, including organ meats (especially liver), seafoods, beans, nuts, and whole-grains. Additional copper can come from drinking water from copper pipes, using copper cookware, and eating farm products sprayed with copper-containing chemicals. Copper may be decreased in foods that have high acid content and are stored in tin cans for a long time.

The daily amount of copper needed is defined in several different ways.

  • For U.S.—
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to provide for adequate nutrition in most healthy persons. RDAs for a given nutrient may vary depending on a person's age, sex, and physical condition (e.g., pregnancy).
  • Daily Values (DVs) are used on food and dietary supplement labels to indicate the percent of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient that a serving provides. DV replaces the previous designation of United States Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs).
  • For Canada—
  • Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) are used to determine the amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to provide adequate nutrition and lessen the risk of chronic disease.

There is no RDA or RNI for copper. However, normal daily recommended intakes are generally defined as follows:

  • Infants and children—
    • Birth to 3 years of age: 0.4 to 1 milligram (mg) per day.
    • 4 to 6 years of age: 1 to 1.5 mg per day.
    • 7 to 10 years of age: 1 to 2 mg per day.
  • Adolescent and adult males—1.5 to 2.5 mg per day.
  • Adolescent and adult females—1.5 to 3 mg per day.

Before Using This Dietary Supplement

If you are taking this dietary supplement without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For copper supplements, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Pregnancy—It is especially important that you are receiving enough vitamins and minerals when you become pregnant and that you continue to receive the right amount of vitamins and minerals throughout your pregnancy. The healthy growth and development of the fetus depend on a steady supply of nutrients from the mother. However, taking large amounts of a dietary supplement in pregnancy may be harmful to the mother and/or fetus and should be avoided.

Breast-feeding—It is important that you receive the right amounts of vitamins and minerals so that your baby will also get the vitamins and minerals needed to grow properly. However, taking large amounts of a dietary supplement while breast-feeding may be harmful to the mother and/or baby and should be avoided.

Children—Problems in children have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.

Older adults—Problems in older adults have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.

Medicines or other dietary supplements—Although certain medicines or dietary supplements should not be used together at all, in other cases they may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your health care professional may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking copper supplements, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:

  • Penicillamine or
  • Trientine or
  • Zinc supplements (taken by mouth)—Use with copper supplements may decrease the amount of copper that gets into the body; copper supplements should be taken at least 2 hours after penicillamine, trientine, or zinc supplements

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of copper supplements. Make sure you tell your health care professional if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Biliary disease or
  • Liver disease—Taking copper supplements may cause high blood levels of copper, and dosage for copper may have to be changed
  • Wilson's disease (too much copper in the body)—Copper supplements may make this condition worse

Proper Use of This Dietary Supplement

Dosing—The amount of copper needed to meet normal daily recommended intakes will be different for different individuals. The following information includes only the average amounts of copper.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes:
      • Adult and teenage males—1.5 to 2.5 milligrams (mg) per day.
      • Adult and teenage females—1.5 to 3 mg per day.
      • Children 7 to 10 years of age—1 to 2 mg per day.
      • Children 4 to 6 years of age—1 to 1.5 mg per day.
      • Children birth to 3 years of age—0.4 to 1 mg per day.
    • To treat deficiency:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children—Treatment dose is determined by prescriber for each individual based on the severity of deficiency.

Missed dose—If you miss taking copper supplements for one or more days there is no cause for concern, since it takes some time for your body to become seriously low in copper. However, if your health care professional has recommended that you take copper try to remember to take it as directed every day.

Storage—To store this dietary supplement:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the dietary supplement to break down.
  • Keep the dietary supplement from freezing. Do not refrigerate.
  • Do not keep outdated dietary supplements or those no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded dietary supplement is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Dietary Supplement

Do not take copper supplements and zinc supplements at the same time. It is best to take your copper supplement 2 hours after zinc supplements, to get the full benefit of each.

Side Effects of This Dietary Supplement

Along with its needed effects, a dietary supplement may cause some unwanted effects. Although copper supplements have not been reported to cause any side effects, check with your health care professional immediately if any of the following side effects occur as a result of an overdose:

Symptoms of overdose

Black or bloody vomit; blood in urine; coma; diarrhea; dizziness or fainting; headache (severe or continuing); heartburn; loss of appetite; lower back pain; metallic taste; nausea (severe or continuing); pain or burning while urinating; vomiting; yellow eyes or skin

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some individuals. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.

Revised: 09/01/1991

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