Copper is important not only for pennies, but also for your body.
In combination with iron, it’s used for making red blood cells, and is also important for collagen, which affects your bones, cartilage, and skin.
If you’re too low on copper, you can develop anemia, hair problems, irritability, liver damage, and a loss of taste.
How Much Copper Do You Need Per Day?
The good news is that it’s easy to get enough copper, even on a vegan diet.
While the absolute best food sources of copper are liver and oysters, most of the other top sources are all plants.
Just one serving of many foods can get you enough copper for the day:
- The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.9 mg/day for adult women and men.
- The upper limit is 10 mg, and it’s possible to get too much (which can damage the liver).
Vegan Foods With Copper (Per Gram and Calorie)
Let’s take a look at the vegan foods that have the most copper in them per serving.
|Food||Copper (mg) per 100 grams||Copper (mg) per 100 calories|
|Wheat flour (whole-grain)||0.48||0.14|
|Vital wheat gluten||0.18||0.05|
|Green bell pepper||0.07||0.33|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.03||0.22|
|Red bell pepper||0.02||0.07|
Click the headers to sort by the amount per 100 grams or calories.
Types of Vegan Foods High in Copper
When we look at the top sources from the table above, 4 types of plants clearly emerge as the best for copper.
Nuts are arguably the best overall plant-based sources of copper.
One serving of cashews, hazelnuts, or brazil nuts is enough to meet your daily requirement. Other nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, and pistachio nuts are not far behind.
Nuts are also a good source of other minerals like magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
Just a handful of most nuts will get you as much copper as you need for the day.
I’ve made lists of the best vegan food sources for almost every nutrient at this point and seeds are at the top of so many of those lists.
Flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are great foods to add to any diet. They’re among the best sources of plant-based omega 3 fats, magnesium, iron, and more.
Adding a tablespoon or two of most seeds to your salads, smoothies, or oatmeal is a great way to make sure you get enough copper in your diet.
There are a few grains near the top of this list: buckwheat groats and oats. Rye grain is a bit lower as well.
Depending on what you eat on a regular basis, these can be a significant source of copper.
Grains in general don’t have a ton of nutritional value, but oats are among the best. They have a good amount of iron and other minerals.
While you probably won’t get most of your copper from grains, certain grains like oats and rye can be useful sources depending on your diet preferences.
Quite a few vegetables, like swiss chard and asparagus are good if you’re watching your calories.
However, vegetables overall aren’t amazing for copper.
Copper is one of the few vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in large amounts in beans and vegetables, which is another reason why it’s important to vary your diet.
If you want to get most of your copper from vegetables, you’ll have to plan to eat specific vegetables. Otherwise, just consider their nutrients a “bonus” that will help you reach your vitamin and mineral RDAs.