[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 9, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(6):530-535. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.62970060011010

Copper as a remedy for various ailments has been of interest to physicians for many hundreds of years. It was first recognized as a normal constituent of human blood in 1875,1 but it was not until 1924 that Elvehjem and coworkers demonstrated the essential nature of copper in mammalian nutrition, particularly in erythropoiesis.2 Although a considerable amount of work has been done since, there are still many gaps in our knowledge of what copper does in the body. This report is a summary of our present knowledge of the metabolism and physiological functions of copper. Studies of a fundamental nature on copper metabolism in man are relatively few; therefore, much of our information must of necessity be drawn from experiments with animals.

Absorption and Excretion  Copper is widely distributed in foods, the amount depending upon the copper in the environment. The average adult ingests 2.5 to 5 mg.