Manganese is a trace element that is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. It plays a role in numerous biological processes, including bone development, antioxidant activity, and metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. Manganese is found in small amounts in various foods and is also available as a dietary supplement.

Functions of Manganese

  • Bone development: Manganese is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones, as it supports the synthesis of connective tissue and bone matrix.
  • Antioxidant activity: Manganese is a component of the antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), which protects cells from oxidative damage.
  • Metabolism: Manganese is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol, which are essential for energy production and other cellular processes.
  • Wound healing: Manganese plays a role in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that is necessary for wound healing and maintaining healthy skin.

Good Sources of Manganese

Manganese can be found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Whole grains: Brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread are good sources of manganese.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas contain manganese, which contributes to their nutritional value.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are rich in manganese.
  • Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, and collard greens provide manganese, along with many other essential nutrients.
  • Fruits: Pineapple, raspberries, and strawberries contain small amounts of manganese.
  • Tea: Both black and green tea are sources of manganese, although the amounts may vary depending on the type of tea and brewing method.

How Much Manganese Do We Need?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), has no recommended daily intake for manganese, instead it only provides the adequate intake (AI).

  • Infants (0-6 months)*: 0.003 mg/day (milligram)
  • Infants (7-12 months): 0.6 mg/day (milligram)
  • Children (1-3 years): 1.2 mg/day (milligram)
  • Children (4-8 years): 1.5 mg/day (milligram
  • Children (9-13 years) males: 1.9 mg/day
  • Children (9-13 years) females: 1.6 mg/day (milligram)
  • Teens (14-18 years) males: 2.2 mg/day
  • Teens (14-18 years) females: 1.6 mg/day (milligram)
  • Adults (19 years and older) males: 2.3 mg/day
  • Adults (19 years and older) females: 1.8 mg/day (milligram)
  • Pregnant women: 2.0 mg/day (milligram)
  • Breastfeeding women: 2.6 mg/day (milligram)

 *For infants from birth to age 6 months, the AI is based on mean manganese intakes of infants fed primarily human milk.

It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine your specific manganese needs.

What are the Signs of Manganese Deficiency?

Manganese deficiency is relatively rare, as most people consume adequate amounts through their diet. However, deficiency can occur in certain circumstances, such as in individuals with poor dietary intake or certain medical conditions. Signs of manganese deficiency may include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Impaired bone development
  • Skin rashes
  • Slow wound healing
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High cholesterol levels

If you suspect you may be deficient in manganese, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Manganese?

Excessive manganese intake can lead to a condition called manganese (manganism), which primarily affects the nervous system. Manganese (manganism) shares some symptoms with Parkinson’s disease and can be harmful to overall health. Some common signs of excessive manganese intake include:

  • Tremors and muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty walking and maintaining balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Cognitive impairments, such as memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Mood changes, including irritability and depression

It’s important to note that excessive manganese intake is generally associated with overexposure to manganese in the environment or through occupational exposure, rather than through diet or supplements. However, it’s essential to follow the recommended daily intake guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional before taking manganese supplements to avoid potential adverse effects.