Age and copper intake do not affect copper absorption, measured with the use of 65Cu as a tracer, in young infants

Manuel Olivares, Bo Lönnerdal, Steve A. Abrams, Fernando Pizarro, Ricardo Uauy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Copper homeostasis involves a high degree of regulation in which changes in absorption and biliary excretion are the main mechanisms. Whether neonates and small infants can make these changes efficiently is unknown. Objective: We evaluated the effect of age and copper intake on copper absorption in infants during the first 3 mo of life. Design: Thirty-nine healthy infants (19 infants aged 1 mo and 20 infants aged 3 mo) were selected. One-half of the subjects were randomly assigned to receive oral supplementation of 80 mg Cu (as copper sulfate) · kg body wt -1 · d -1 for 15 d. At the end of the trial, copper absorption was measured by using orally administered 65Cu as a tracer and fecal monitoring of recovered 65Cu. Results: Mean (± SD) copper absorption at 1 mo of age was 83.6 ± 5.8% and 74.8 ± 9.1% for the unsupplemented and supplemented infants, respectively. The corresponding figures at 3 mo of age were 77.6 ± 15.2% and 77.7 ± 11.3%. A two-way analysis of variance showed that age, copper supplementation, and the interaction between age and copper supplementation did not have a significant effect on copper absorption. There was an inverse correlation between total fecal copper and the percentage of 65Cu absorption (r = -0.50, P < 0.003). Conclusion: Copper absorption in young infants is high but does not respond to copper intake within the range tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-645
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Cu
  • Copper absorption
  • Copper supplementation
  • Human milk
  • Infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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