The Health Benefits of Manganese

The Health Benefits of Manganese

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Introduction & Biological Role

Manganese is a trace but essential mineral for human health. It’s the 5th most abundant metal and the 12th most abundant element on earth. In the body, highest concentrations are found in the bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

Manganese is a component of superoxide dismutase which helps fight free radicals. Free radicals are known to play a role in aging and health conditions like heart attack, strokes and cancer. Superoxide dismutase, like other antioxidants, can help reduce the negative effects of these free radicals.

Your body is known to use manganese for

  • Proper immune function
  • Regulation of blood sugar and cellular energy
  • Reproduction
  • Bone growth
  • Blood coagulation and hemostasis
  • Defense against reactive oxygen species
  • Connective tissues
  • Digestion & Carbohydrate metabolism

Health Benefits

Osteoporosis

No evidence looking at manganese specifically, but in a study of a multi-mineral supplement that contained manganese, bone loss was lessened in postmenopausal women. 

Arthritis

Studies are mixed whether manganese supplementation can help with arthritis. Theoretically, it boosts superoxide dismutase, helping fight the free radicals that contribute to arthritis. Some studies have found a benefit, others have found no benefit. The jury is still out on this. 

Premenstrual syndrome (aka PMS)

One study that compared women who consumed 5.6 mg of manganese per day to those who consumed only 1 mg per day found that the high consumers of manganese had fewer mood swings and cramps. Another study found that patients with PMS had lower levels of manganese (in addition to calcium, chromium and copper). 

Diabetes

Studies have shown that diabetic individuals have lower levels of manganese. It is unclear whether diabetes causes low levels of manganese or if low levels of manganese are a risk factor for diabetes. More research is needed.

Seizure disorder

Low levels of manganese are linked to seizure disorders. Like diabetes, we don’t know if this is cause or effect. More research is needed to investigate this. It is worth noting that manganese is known to play a role in neurological health.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Early evidence suggests that multi-mineral supplementation, containing manganese, may help with COPD.  Again, more research is needed.

Dietary Sources

Highest Levels (30 mg Mn/kg).

  • Whole grains (wheat germ, oats, and bran)
  • Rice
  • Nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans)

Notable Levels

  • Seafood
  • Seeds
  • Chocolate
  • Tea
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach)
  • Spices (chili powder, cloves, and saffron)
  • Some fruits

Deficiency

Because it is commonly found in a variety of foods, nutritional deficiency is rare. Low levels can contribute to infertility, bone malformation, weakness, and seizures.

Toxicity

Toxicity is also rare, however it is possible, is termed ‘manganism’ and resembles Parkinson’s disease with notable changes in cognition, motor activity and emotion. Folks at risk for this typically worked specifically with manganese alloys.

Recommended Daily Allowance

Institute of Medicine

  • 2 mg/day as adequate intake for adults
  • 1.2–1.5 mg/day for children.

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