Dietary minerals (also known as mineral nutrients) are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. The term is archaic, as it describes chemical elements rather than actual minerals.
Minerals in order of abundance in the human body include the seven major minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Important "trace" or minor minerals, necessary for mammalian life, include iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, molybdenum, iodine, and selenium (see below for detailed discussion).
Copper is an essential trace element that is vital to the health of all living things (humans, plants, animals, and microorganisms). In humans, copper is essential to the proper functioning of organs and metabolic processes. The human body has complex homeostatic mechanisms which attempt to ensure a constant supply of available copper, while eliminating excess copper whenever this occurs. However, like all essential elements and nutrients, too much or too little nutritional ingestion of copper can result in a corresponding condition of copper excess or deficiency in the body, each of which has its own unique set of adverse health effects.
Daily dietary standards for copper have been set by various health agencies around the world. Standards adopted by some nations recommend different copper intake levels for adults, pregnant women, infants, and children, corresponding to the varying need for copper during different stages of life.