What Is Manganese?

Manganese is a trace mineral that’s been counted among the essential human nutrients since 1931. Manganese is found in a variety of foods, and a healthy human body contains about 15 to 20 mg of manganese. Manganese helps keep your bones strong, and it also helps regulate your body’s production of hormones. Here’s what you should know about manganese and its daily dietary requirements.

How Manganese Functions in Your Body

Manganese is a trace mineral that serves as one of the essential human nutrients. Manganese helps activate your body’s enzymes, making it easier for your body to use nutrients like ascorbic acid, thiamin, biotin and choline. Manganese also activates glycolsyltranserferases and xylosyltransferases, the enzymes your body uses to form healthy bones.

Manganese helps your body create fatty acids and cholesterol, and it helps regulate regulate your body’s production of sex hormones, as well as thyroid hormones. Manganese helps your body metabolize protein and carbohydrates. Manganese helps keep blood sugar levels stable, it helps keep your nerve tissue healthy, it supports liver and urinary tract health, and it acts as an antioxidant to protect your body from oxidative cell damage.

Symptoms and Causes of Manganese Deficiency

Manganese deficiency can affect almost all of your body’s functions. One of the primary symptoms of manganese deficiency is excessive bone loss and skeletal deformity. Manganese deficiency may also cause nausea, vomiting, loss of hair color, skin rash, high blood sugar levels, hearing loss, dizziness, lowered reproductive function and lowered cholesterol levels. In infants, manganese deficiency causes blindness, deafness, paralysis and convulsions.

Manganese deficiency is rare, because dietary sources of manganese are so plentiful. Poor diet is the leading cause of manganese deficiency. Other causes of manganese deficiency include excessive sweating, since your body excretes manganese through sweat. Those with liver or gallbladder problems may be more likely to experience manganese deficiency, since these organs help transport manganese throughout the body.

Manganese Toxicity

Manganese toxicity usually occurs in factory workers who are forced to inhale copious amounts of manganese dust. While having too much manganese in your diet is unlikely to harm you, those who eat excessive amounts of manganese may succumb to a syndrome known as “manganese madness,” which causes irritability, violent outbursts and hallucinations. Stay on the safe side by following these recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences:

  • Infants under one year of age do not need manganese supplements
  • Children aged one to three years need two milligrams per day
  • Children aged four to eight years need three milligrams per day
  • Children aged 9 to 13 years need six milligrams per day
  • Adults aged 14 to 18 years need nine milligrams per day
  • Adults aged older than 19 years need 11 milligrams per day

Getting Enough Manganese in Your Diet

Good sources of dietary manganese are easy to find. Leafy green vegetables like mustard greens, kale, chard, spinach and collard greens are good sources of manganese. Strawberries, summer squash, oats, spelt, green beans, brown rice, ground cloves, cinnamon, thyme, tumeric, beets, tempeh, leeks and tofu are all great dietary sources of manganese. 


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