What's the Difference between Magnesium and Manganese?

Magnesium and manganese are trace elements and are called as such because your body needs them in minute amounts. They are also called “micronutrients” for the same reason. These elements are important for many metabolic processes, because they serve as cofactors in many bodily enzymatic reactions. Because both magnesium and manganese are important to your body, you should include food sources of these elements in your daily meals in order to maintain good health. These elements, however, are different, and your body needs them in different amounts.


Scientists have postulated that magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the body, particularly in terms of mass. Half of the magnesium present in your body is deposited in your bones, while the other half is found in your billions of cells. Only 1 percent can be found in your blood.

Magnesium is involved in about 300 enzymatic reactions. It aids in the maintenance of muscle and nerve function, allowing you to play your favorite games with strength, balance and coordination. Magnesium also helps keep your heart rate and rhythm regular, and your blood pressure within the normal range. When your white blood cells encounter pathogens like bacteria and viruses, biochemical reactions involving magnesium are activated to boost your immune system.

Food Sources

Many green leafy vegetables provide enough magnesium required by the body. This is because chlorophyll, a pigment that makes leaves appear green and is needed in photosynthesis, has magnesium. Examples of plant products with magnesium include spinach, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and whole unrefined grains. Take note that if you rely on refined grains for your magnesium intake, you can have magnesium deficiency because refined grains have low magnesium content.


Approximately 10 mg of manganese is present in your body. Most of this amount is stored in your liver and kidneys. Some of this amount is present in your brain and helps maintain your cognitive, motor and sensory functions. Like magnesium, manganese has a role in many enzymatic reactions, and it is particularly important in the detoxification process.

Manganese helps your body use other nutrients like thiamine, biotin, ascorbic acid and choline. It also helps maintain the strength of your bones and the capacity of your nerves. It is said to promote normal blood sugar levels. Being a constituent of the enzyme called manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase, manganese is a main player in the removal of free radicals, which can damage your cells.

Food Sources

Manganese is present in mustard greens, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, cucumber, squash and peanuts. It is also present in pineapples and strawberries. Spices that contain manganese include turmeric, cinnamon, peppermint and thyme. Grains like millet and barley are also good sources of this element.

There are many enzymatic reactions in your body that allow you to digest food, absorb it, turn it into energy and utilize it for your daily activities. Enzymes are mostly proteins that speed up chemical reactions in your body. Without enzymes, it would take years before a chemical reaction could finish. Enzymes function optimally when they have their cofactors. This is the reason why you need both magnesium and manganese.


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