Wilson's Disease Diet

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   Zinc Content of Foods online database

Food NameCopperCalories 
Milk, human0.05270
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole0.01160
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole, low-sodium0.01061
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, whole0.01160
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, 1% fat0.01042
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat0.01135
Milk, cow's, fluid, other than whole ("lowfat")0.01244
Milk, cow's, fluid, 2% fat0.01250
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 1% fat0.01042
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 2% fat0.01250
Milk, cow's, fluid, 1% fat0.01042
Milk, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat, 0.5% or less butterfat0.01334
Milk, cow's, fluid, filled with vegetable oil0.01063

Usage Notes

  • Copper (measured in milligrams) and calories are calculated per 100g of food.
  • This copper content of foods database contains approximately 7,000 most common food items.
  • Click on column header to sort foods by name or by copper or calories.
  • Pie chart shows relative contributions to total calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat (and alcohol, if exists).

What is Wilson Disease?

Wilson disease is a rare inherited disorder of copper metabolism in which excessive amounts of copper accumulate in the body. The buildup of copper leads to damage in the liver, brain, and eyes. Although copper accumulation begins at birth, symptoms of the disorder only appear later in life. The most characteristic sign of Wilson disease is the Kayser-Fleisher ring – a rusty brown ring around the cornea of the eye that can best be viewed using an ophthalmologist’s slit lamp. The primary consequence for most individuals with Wilson disease is liver disease, appearing in late childhood or early adolescence as acute hepatitis, liver failure, or progressive chronic liver disease in the form of chronic active hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver. In others, the first symptoms are neurological, occur later in adulthood, and commonly include slurred speech (dysarthria), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and drooling. Other symptoms may include tremor of the head, arms, or legs; impaired muscle tone, and sustained muscle contractions that produce abnormal postures, twisting, and repetitive movements (dystonia); and slowness of movements (bradykinesia). Individuals may also experience clumsiness (ataxia) and loss of fine motor skills. One-third of individuals with Wilson disease will also experience psychiatric symptoms such as an abrupt personality change, bizarre and inappropriate behavior, depression accompanied by suicidal thoughts, neurosis, or psychosis. Wilson disease is diagnosed with tests that measure the amount of copper in the blood, urine, and liver.

Treatment for Wilson Disease

Wilson disease requires lifelong treatment, generally using drugs that remove excess copper from the body and prevent it from re-accumulating. Zinc, which blocks the absorption of copper in the stomach and causes no serious side effects, is often considered the treatment of choice. Penicillamine and trientine are copper chelators that increase urinary excretion of copper; however, both drugs have some side effects. Tetrathiomolybdate is an investigational copper chelating drug with a lower toxicity profile, but it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Wilson disease and its long-term safety and effectiveness aren’t known. A low-copper diet is also recommended, which involves avoiding mushrooms, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, liver, and shellfish.

Copper in Diet

Copper is an essential trace mineral present in all body tissues. Copper is an essential nutrient for humans. Normally, your liver releases copper it doesn't need into bile, a digestive fluid. With Wilson disease, this does not happen. Copper builds up in your liver and injures liver tissue. Over time, the damage causes your liver to release the copper directly into your bloodstream. The blood carries copper all over your body. Too much copper can damage your kidneys, liver, brain and eyes. If you have Wilson disease, you will have to take medicine and follow a low-copper diet for the rest of your life. With early detection and proper treatment, a person with Wilson disease can enjoy normal health.

Function of Copper

Copper is a component of numerous enzymes that affect a wide variety of metabolic processes. Copper deficiency can result in anemia, neutropenia, skeletal abnormalities, and other clinical manifestations.
Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.

Food Sources

Oysters and other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats (kidneys, liver) are good sources of copper. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits such as prunes, cocoa, black pepper, and yeast are also sources of copper in the diet.

Copper Side Effects

Normally people have enough copper in the foods they eat. Menkes disease (kinky hair syndrome) is a very rare disorder of copper metabolism that is present before birth. It occurs in male infants.
Lack of copper may lead to anemia and osteoporosis.
In large amounts, copper is poisonous. A rare inherited disorder, Wilson's disease, causes deposits of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. The increased copper in these tissues leads to hepatitis, kidney problems, brain disorders, and other problems.

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