Subscribe to the Magazine for free
Subscribe for free to keep reading! If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Manganese 101: Health Benefits, Testing, & Top Foods

Medically reviewed by 
 
Manganese 101: Health Benefits, Testing, & Top Foods

Manganese is a trace mineral essential for human health. Yet, an estimated 37% percent of Americans do not get the recommended amount of manganese required for functioning. This article will discuss what manganese is, including its role in the body, how to test for it, and how to ensure you're getting proper levels of manganese. 

[signup]

What is Manganese?

Manganese is a softer metal found and is the fifth most common metal found in the earth's crust. Primarily found in China, Australia, and Africa, manganese can also be found on the floor of the oceans in the form of nodules. One of the first documented uses of manganese was by French cave painters 30,000 years ago. In today's society, manganese is used with other metals, such as aluminum and steel. 

The human body requires manganese, as every cell in the body utilizes it. The human body stores anywhere from 10 to 20 milligrams (mg) of manganese in the bones, liver, kidney, pancreas, and brain. The bones contain the most, with 25-40% of manganese stored there.

What is Manganese's Role in The Body?

Manganese functions as a cofactor, which is a vitamin or mineral required for enzymes to function properly. Enzymes stimulate reactions in the body to occur faster. Manganese functions as a cofactor for the enzymes superoxide dismutase, arginase, and pyruvate carboxylase. Superoxide dismutase functions as an enzyme and also as an antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, molecules that damage DNA and cell membranes. Free radicals are linked to aging, heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. 

Because of its involvement with these enzymes, manganese plays a role in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. It’s also required for immune system functioning and reproduction. Manganese also aids vitamin K in hemostatic processes, including blood clotting.

How to Test Manganese Levels

A manganese blood test will assess manganese levels in the blood serum. The reference range for this serum test is 0.6 to 4.3 micrograms per liter. Manganese can also be found as a part of micronutrient panels such as the Micronutrient Test offered by SpectraCell Laboratories

Toxicity due to manganese is not commonly seen as a result of dietary sources. Rather, environmental exposures such as breathing in manganese dust from mining or welding and drinking water with high levels of manganese can lead to toxicity. Additionally, people with chronic liver disease have difficulty removing manganese from the body and may be at risk for manganese toxicity. While iron deficiency will not lead to manganese toxicity on its own, it may cause worsening toxicity symptoms as manganese absorption is increased in the presence of iron deficiency. Manganese toxicity symptoms primarily affect the central nervous system. They include ringing in the ears, hearing loss, tremors, muscle spasms, delusions, mania, depression, irritability, headaches, insomnia, short-term memory impairment, reduced hand-eye coordination, lower extremity weakness, feeling physically unstable, and altered reaction times. Progression of manganese toxicity can look similar to Parkinson's disease, including changes in walking and balance, rigidity, and tremors. 

Low levels of manganese may affect people differently. In children, manganese deficiency may cause impaired growth and bone demineralization. In men, deficiency symptoms may include premature graying of hair, skin rashes, low cholesterol, and an increase in the blood marker alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme that may indicate bone and liver disease. Women may have premenstrual pain and mood changes as a result of manganese deficiency. Additionally, manganese deficiency may cause alterations in blood sugar and fat and carbohydrate metabolism. 

How to Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Manganese in Your Diet

Vitamins and minerals often have a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) set by the Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. However, if there is not enough evidence to create an RDA, the board will assign the vitamin or mineral an Adequate Intake (AI) level. AIs are levels assumed to ensure adequate vitamin or mineral intake. Additionally, tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) have been established for manganese. ULs are the maximum amount of a vitamin or mineral that can be taken without any health risk. 

Manganese AIs and ULs

Pregnant and lactating women are often categorized separately due to different nutritional demands. The AI for manganese is 2.0 mg for pregnant women and 2.6 mg for lactating women. The UL for pregnant and lactating women between the ages of 14-18 years old is 9 mg and 11 mg for 19+ years old.

Since manganese is found in the earth's crust, it's also in the soil and thus naturally found in foods. 

Top Manganese Containing Foods 

[signup]

Summary

Manganese is a trace mineral utilized by every cell in the body. Functioning as an important cofactor, manganese is utilized in numerous processes. Manganese toxicity and deficiency can cause symptoms that will significantly affect a person's quality of life. Thus, manganese testing may be indicated for those who are at higher risk for toxicity and those with low-quality diets. 

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Learn More
No items found.

Lab Tests in This Article

Subscribe to the Magazine for free to keep reading!
Subscribe for free to keep reading, If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
See All Magazine Articles