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Manganese (Mn) is a nutritional microelement whose value in the diet is not very well known. However, apart from its antioxidant properties, manganese is important – among other things – for good digestion of food and proper bone structure.

Manganese (Mn) is one of the trace elements found in small amounts in animal tissues. A healthy adult of around 70kg contains about 10-20mg of manganese.

Its etymology refers to the ancient Greek word manganese (= magic), because the ancients believed that this metal had magical properties.

Manganese Health Benefits

Although the value of this particular trace element is still being researched, we already know several functions of the body in which it is involved. Manganese is a component of many enzymes and is therefore involved in many metabolic processes. In particular, manganese contributes

  • to the formation of connective tissues
  • to the formation of bones
  • to the formation of blood coagulation factors
  • to the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates
  • to the regulation of blood sugar
  • to the better absorption of calcium

Another role of manganese in our body is that it helps in the production of the enzyme prolidase, which in turn helps in the production of collagen.

Therefore, manganese is important for good skin health, as it also acts as an antioxidant for skin cells.

In one study, participants did not include adequate amounts of manganese in their diet, and over a period of a few weeks they developed rashes, which disappeared as soon as their manganese levels returned to normal.

Bohr model of manganese. Source: Signal Garden

Recommended Daily Intake

  • Infants 0-5 months -> 0.5 to 0.7 mg
  • Infants 5-12 months -> 0.7 to 1 mg
  • Children 1-3 years of age -> 1 to 1.5 mg
  • Children 4-6 years of age -> 1.5 to 2 mg
  • Children 7-10 years old -> 2 to 3 mg
  • People over 11 years of age -> 2.5 to 5 mg

More specifically, an adult man is covered with 2.3mg of manganese per day while an adult woman is covered with 1.8mg.

For a pregnant woman the amount is 2mg per day and for a breastfeeding woman 2.6mg per day

Read Also: Magnesium Health Benefits, Sources, Deficiency, RDA, Toxicity

Manganese Food Sources

The reason manganese is off most people’s ”radar” is because we find it in a huge variety of foods – almost all of them plant-based. Meat and its derivatives usually have very low levels.

But there are plant foods – especially whole grains – that can provide almost our entire daily dose in a single serving. One of these is oats, where one cup provides 96% of the recommended daily intake of manganese.

Second on the list is brown rice, with 88% of the RDI.

Other excellent sources of manganese are spinach and pineapple, as well as most nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts.

Finally, we can also get satisfactory doses of manganese from most vegetables.

Other good natural sources of manganese are:

avocados, dried raisins, tea, beans, peas, broccoli, oranges, blueberries, lotus, liver, egg yolk, cloves, cinnamon, chamomile, ginseng, parsley, mint, dandelion and bee balm.

– A single bowl of oats contains over 90% of the RDI

Manganese Deficiency Symptoms

Manganese deficiency is not very common but has been linked to differences in conditions such as:

  • infertility, weakness, memory loss, confusion, tremors, myasthenia gravis
  • osteoporosis, bone deformity, seizures, atherosclerosis
  • cardiac dysfunction, excessive sweating, tachycardia, high blood pressure and serum cholesterol
  • destruction of pancreatic tissue, impaired glucose metabolism, reduced insulin production
  • Very low levels of manganese have been observed in epileptic patients in whom the frequency and intensity of seizures were the highest.

Read Also: Superfoods: How to Get More Nutrients from Your Food Intake

Absorption and storage

Manganese is stored mainly in the liver, bones, kidneys and pancreas. Although it is not yet known how it is absorbed from the small intestine, its availability appears to be related to iron absorption.

Interestingly, taking large amounts of iron from the diet (and as dietary supplements) usually results in lower levels of manganese in the body. For this reason, men, who usually have higher iron levels than women, generally absorb less manganese.


Manganese is one of the safest metals because when consumed in excess, absorption is very low and any amount absorbed is effectively eliminated by the bile and kidneys.

Thus toxic effects have not been noted even in people following vegetarian diets with manganese intakes of up to 20 mg/day.

Manganese toxicity has been observed only in miners exposed to manganese ores who continuously absorb dust from the lungs.

Final Take

Manganese is an important mineral that is found in both plant and animal tissue. It has a wide range of uses in the body, including helping to form connective tissues, bones, and blood cells.

Manganese also helps the body process food and minerals, and it plays a role in energy production.

A lack of manganese can lead to health problems, such as weakened bones, joint pain, and fertility issues.

While most people get enough manganese from their diet, some groups of people, such as pregnant women and the elderly, may need to take supplements to ensure they get enough of this important mineral.

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