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Manganese, a trace mineral that participates in many enzyme systems in the body, was first considered an essential nutrient

in 1931. Researchers discovered that experimental animals fed a diet deficient in manganese demonstrated poor growth and impaired reproduction.

Manganese is found widely in nature, but occurs only in trace amounts in human tissues. The human body contains a total of 15-20 milligrams of manganese, most of which is located in the bones, with the remainder found in the kidneys, liver, pancreas, pituitary glands, and adrenal glands.

In the human body, manganese functions as an enzyme activator and as a component of metalloenzymes (an enzyme that contains a metal ion in its structure).

Manganese activates the enzymes responsible for the utilization of several key nutrients including biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline. It is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and may also participate in the production of sex hormones and maintaining reproductive health.

Manganese is needed for healthy skin, bone, and cartilage formation, as well as glucose tolerance. It has also been theorized that manganese is involved in the production of the thyroid hormone known as thyroxine and in maintaining the health of nerve tissue.

Manganese has additional functions as a constituent of the following metalloenzymes: Arginase, the enzyme in the liver responsible for creating urea, a component of urine Glutamine synthetase, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of glutamine

Phosphoenolpyruvate decarboxylase, an enzyme that participates in the metabolism of blood sugar Manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase, an enzyme with antioxidant activity that protects tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals.This enzyme is found exclusively inside the body's mitochondria (oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells).

Phosphoenolpyruvate decarboxylase, an enzyme that participates in the metabolism of blood sugar Manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase, an enzyme with antioxidant activity that protects tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals.This enzyme is found exclusively inside the body's mitochondria (oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells).

In experimental animals, manganese deficiency causes impaired growth, skeletal abnormalities, and defects in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Who is likely to be deficient? Many people consume less than the 2.55 mg of manganese currently considered safe and adequate. Nonetheless, clear deficiencies are rare. Individuals with osteoporosis sometimes have low blood levels of manganese, suggestive of deficiency.

In humans, manganese deficiency is associated with nausea, vomiting, poor glucose tolerance (high blood sugar levels), skin rash, loss of hair color, excessive bone loss, low cholesterol levels, dizziness, hearing loss, and compromised function of the reproductive system. Severe manganese deficiency in infants can cause paralysis, convulsions, blindness, and deafness.

It is important to emphasize, however, that manganese deficiency is very rare in humans, and does not usually develop unless manganese is deliberately eliminated from the diet. In addition, it has been suggested that magnesium substitutes for manganese in certain enzyme systems if manganese is deficient, thereby allowing the body to function normally despite the deficiency.

Most cases of manganese toxicity are seen in industrial workers who are exposed to manganese dust. These workers develop nervous system problems similar to Parkinsons disease. Although symptoms of manganese toxicity do not typically appear even at high levels of dietary intake, in severe cases of excessive manganese consumption individuals can develop a syndrome called manganese madness, characterized by hallucinations, violent acts, and irritability.

Overconsumption of manganese is also associated with impotency. Manganese toxicity is most likely to occur in people with chronic liver disease, as the liver plays an important role in eliminating excess manganese from the body.

Poor dietary intake of manganese appears to be the most common cause of manganese deficiency. However, other factors can contribute to a need for more manganese. Like zinc, manganese is a mineral that can be excreted in significant amounts through sweat, and individuals who go through periods of excessive sweating may be at increased risk for manganese deficiency.

Proper formation of bile in the liver, and proper circulation of bile through the body are also required for manganese transport. As a result, individuals with chronic liver or gallbladder disorders may need more dietary manganese.

Excellent food sources of manganese include mustard greens, kale, chard, raspberries, pineapple, strawberries, romaine lettuce, collard greens, spinach, garlic, summer squash, grapes, turnip greens, eggplant, brown rice, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, and turmeric.

Very good sources of manganese include leeks, tofu, broccoli, beets, cranberries, whole wheat, and tempeh. Good sources of manganese include cucumber, peanuts, millet, barley, figs, bananas, kiwifruit, carrots, cashews, bell peppers, and onions.

High doses of manganese may inhibit the absorption of iron, copper, and zinc. Alternatively, high intakes of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper and zinc may inhibit the absorption of manganese.

Manganese may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following medical conditions: Allergies Asthma Diabetes Epilepsy Heart disease Learning disabilities Multiple sclerosis Myasthenia gravis Osteoporosis Premenstrual syndrome Rheumatoid arthritis Schizophrenics Sprains and strains

Recommended Intakes for Individuals* (2007)


Age 1-3 yrs. 4-8 yrs. 9-13 yrs. 14-18 yrs. 19-30 yrs. 31-50 yrs. 51-70 yrs. 70+ Male 1.2 mg 1.5 mg 1.9 mg 2.2 mg 2.3 mg 2.3 mg 2.3 mg 2.3 mg Female 1.2 mg 1.5 mg 1.6 mg 1.6 mg 1.8 mg 1.8 mg 1.8 mg 1.8 mg 2.0 mg 2.0 mg 2.0 mg 2.6 mg 2.6 mg 2.6 mg Pregnants Lactating

*These Adequate Intakes are believed to cover needs of all individuals in the groups shown above, but lack of data or uncertainty in the data prevent being able to specify with confidence the percentage of individuals covered by this intake.
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)** (2007)


Age 1-3 yrs. 4-8 yrs. 9-13 yrs. 14-18 yrs. 19-50 yrs. 51-70 yrs. 70+ Male 2 mg 3 mg 6 mg 9 mg 11 mg 11mg 11 mg Female 2 mg 3 mg 6 mg 9 mg 11 mg 11 mg 11 mg 9 mg 11 mg 9 mg 11 mg Pregnants Lactating

**UL = The maximum level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents total intake from food, water, and supplements.
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies