The human requirement for copper. I. Healthy men fed conventional, American diets

Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 Jan;33(1):45-50. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/33.1.45.


Each of 13 men was fed diets made from conventional foods for two to seven periods lasting 30 days in a metabolic ward. There was a total of 47 experimental periods. Supplementation of the basal diet with each of several bran or other fiber sources was done in no particular order; each subject was fed the unsupplemented diet for at least one period. The diet was designed to contain amounts of essential nutrients close to the Recommended Dietary Allowances; it resembled the "average" American diet as it contained 16% protein, 40% fat, and 44% carbohydrate. Only minimal variation in energy intake and physical activity of the men was permitted; body weight remained constant within +/- 2%. Copper in food, feces, and urine was measured during the last 12 days of each period. Linear regression of balance (intake minus the sum of fecal and urinary losses) revealed a daily requirement of 1.30 mg (95% confidence limits of 1.24 to 1.35 mg). On consideration of a calculated surface loss of 0.25 mg/day, the requirement is 1.55 mg/day. The requirement was unaffected by the type of fiber source. A review of published data revealed that this requirement substantially exceeds the amount of copper found in many conventional diets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Copper / analysis
  • Copper / blood
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Copper / urine
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Feces / analysis
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • United States


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Copper