EFSA proposes dietary reference values for copper

1 July 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has proposed dietary reference values for copper, an essential micronutrient that is necessary for electron transfer processes.


The draft Scientific Opinion – the latest in EFSA’s ongoing work on dietary reference values for EU population groups – is now open for public consultation.

Copper is an essential trace element. It is a central component of many enzymes, including those involved in neurotransmitter synthesis, in energy metabolism and in cross-linking of collagen and elastin.  Copper deficiency can produce anaemia-like symptoms, neutropenia, bone abnormalities, hypopigmentation, impaired growth, increased incidence of infections, osteoporosis, hyperthyroidism, and abnormalities in glucose and cholesterol metabolism.

Grains are a good source of copper

EFSA’s Panel on Nutrition, Dietetic Products and Allergies derived Adequate Intakes (AIs) based on mean observed intakes in several EU countries. Data from balance studies in adults were used as supportive evidence. The proposed values are:

Group Adequate Intake
Infants 7–11 months 0.4 mg/day*
Males and females 1 to < 3 years 0.7 mg/day
Males and females 3 to < 10 years 1.0 mg/day
Males 10 to < 18 years 1.3 mg/day
Females 10 to < 18 years 1.1 mg/day
Male Adults 1.6 mg/day
Female Adults 1.3 mg/day
Pregnant and lactating women 1.5 mg/day

*mg/day = milligrams per day

The main food group contributing to the copper intake of all population groups except infants is grains. Other important contributors to copper intake are meat and meat products, starchy roots or tubers, coffee, tea and fish.

The draft Scientific Opinion is open for comment until 6 August 2015.

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