Copper is included in blood sugar supplements because it is essential to overall health, but supplementation seems unnecessary.
Copper is an essential micronutrient that has been suggested to help control blood sugar by:
- Supporting overall health. Copper aids the body’s antioxidant defenses and may have other roles that indirectly support healthy blood sugar.
Like other trace minerals, copper (Cu) is required in tiny amounts for proper body function. It is present in a wide variety of foods, which explains why its deficiency is extremely rare in today’s world.
Copper has many roles, the most notable of which include energy production, blood cell & hemoglobin formation, and antioxidant protection. Because of this, it is frequently included in multivitamin and thyroid formulas.
Some people have also suggested that copper may play a role in regulating blood sugar and diabetes. Indeed, some studies have found that diabetics have increased copper levels. However, research in this area has not uncovered any significant findings, and the exact relationship between copper and blood sugar remains unclear.
Read more: Blood Sugar Supplements Guide
Foods High in Copper
|Food||Serving Size||Amount per serving (µg)|
|Beef liver||1 ounce||4,128|
|Crab||3 ounces||692 – 1,005|
|Peanut butter||1 tablespoon||185|
How Copper Might Help With Blood Sugar
Supporting Overall Health
Researchers have yet to identify a significant role for copper in blood sugar regulation. The only proposed mechanism through which it may indirectly help with diabetes and blood sugar is its support of antioxidant enzymes. Since diabetes involves increased oxidative stress, this effect may theoretically have some benefits.
Copper Uses & Potential Benefits for Blood Sugar
Copper is sometimes used as an ingredient in supplements that help keep blood glucose in a healthy range. However, this use is not supported by research because studies have found that diabetes – which goes hand in hand with high blood sugar – seems to be related to high rather than low copper levels.
In fact, some researchers suggest that compounds that remove copper from the body – called chelators – may actually be more beneficial for diabetes. 1
In addition, copper deficiency is extremely rare, which means that even if copper does affect blood sugar, you are unlikely to be deficient.
There is very little research on the interaction between copper and blood glucose, and the studies are not of the highest quality. However, it appears that copper levels are elevated in people with diabetes, which puts the need for supplementation in question.
This study looked for a connection between trace mineral and blood sugar levels in diabetics. The researchers examined the blood copper, zinc, and magnesium levels of 36 patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes, and compared them with 34 matched, healthy individuals. They found a positive association between copper and Hba1c, which means that higher copper levels were linked to higher blood sugar in diabetics.
- The researchers concluded that “…altered metabolism of Cu, Zn, and Mg is strongly associated with increased levels of HbA1c.” 2
This placebo-controlled study examined the effects of chromium and copper supplementation on blood glucose and lipids. A total of 24 people (aged 50 and above) took placebo, chromium, or copper daily for 8 weeks. Only women in the copper group experienced a decrease in blood glucose levels.
- The researchers concluded that “…adequate chromium and copper intakes may have beneficial effects on lipids and glucose in adults over 50 years of age.” 3
This study explored the link between copper levels and diabetes. The researchers examined the blood copper, zinc, and magnesium levels of 20 patients with type 1 diabetes, and compared them with 20 healthy individuals. They found that copper levels were elevated in diabetics compared to their healthy counterparts, suggesting a link between copper and diabetes.
- The researchers concluded that “These changes may be associated with the development of insulin resistance…” 4
This study examined the connection between levels of trace minerals and diabetes. The researchers examined the blood copper, zinc, and magnesium levels of 83 people with type 2 diabetes, and compared them with 30 healthy individuals. They found that copper levels were elevated in diabetics compared to their healthy counterparts, suggesting a connection between copper status and diabetes development.
- The researchers concluded that “…increased copper levels found in diabetics in our study may merit further investigation of the relationship between copperand non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.” 5
Dosage for Blood Sugar
- There is no research-supported dosage of copper for blood sugar management
- Single-ingredient copper supplements typically provide 2 mg capsule dosages
- Diabetes & blood sugar supplements sometimes contain small amounts of copper because of its general health benefits
- Copper glycinate, copper oxide, copper chelate.
Supplements in Review Recommendation
- There isn’t enough evidence to recommend taking copper for blood sugar control.
Research demonstrates that copper levels are actually elevated in people with diabetes. As such, taking copper would have no benefit and may actually have detrimental effects.
- Zheng Y et al. The role of zinc, copper and iron in the pathogenesis of diabetes and diabetic complications: therapeutic effects by chelators. Hemoglobin. 2008;32(1-2):135-45. ↩
- Viktorínová A et al. Altered metabolism of copper, zinc, and magnesium is associated with increased levels of glycated hemoglobin in patients with diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2009 Oct;58(10):1477-82. ↩
- Hermann J. et al. Effects of Chromium or Copper Supplementation on Plasma Lipids, Plasma Glucose and Serum Insulin in Adults Over Age Fifty. Journal of Nutrition For the Elderly Volume 18, 1999 – Issue 1. ↩
- Isbir T et al. Zinc, copper and magnesium status in insulin-dependent diabetes. Diabetes Res. 1994;26(1):41-5. ↩
- A. H. Zargar et al. Copper, zinc, and magnesium levels in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Postgrad Med J. 1998 Nov; 74(877): 665–668. ↩