Manganese: A Snapshot
Manganese rich dark chocolate

Manganese: A Snapshot

Manganese deficiency

Manganese deficiency is quite rare in human beings since it is required for the body in traces only and thankfully naturally available in the food we eat. But when it occurs, lack of enough manganese can cause bone demineralization, stunted growth in children, infertility, skin and hair problems, mood shifts, increased menstrual pain in women, altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism and abnormal glucose tolerance. Manganese is a co-factor for many enzymes.

Manganese sources

Almonds and other nuts like pecans, legumes and beans, oats, brown rice, green leafy vegetables like spinach, pineapple are some of the naturally occurring foodstuff that’s rich in manganese. It is also available in other foodstuff such as bran cereals, whole wheat bread and dark chocolate.  Tea also is a source for manganese though tannin present in tea tends to reduce the absorption of manganese.

Some foods rich in iron can reduce the absorption of manganese slightly and so is with phosphorous and calcium rich foods.

Benefits of manganese

  • Metabolism: Manganese is an important component of many enzymes that are responsible for the carbohydrate, lipid and amino acid metabolism in our body and therefore is essential. It also enables vitamin utilization by our body.
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammation: Manganese is a part of the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). This enzyme converts the superoxide free radicals that cause aging and other chronic diseases like heart disease, to smaller molecules, which can be eliminated easily from the body through water. In this enzyme form, manganese can also reduce inflammation, especially when it is combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, and can help improve osteoarthritis conditions in humans.
  • Bone health: Manganese is important to develop bones and maintain bone health. In combination with calcium, zinc, and copper, manganese helps improve bone mineral density. This is specifically in older adults and post-menopausal women who are at risk of osteoporosis can benefit by taking manganese rich foodstuffs.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Manganese is concentrated in the pancreas and therefore is involved in the body’s insulin generation and blood glucose regulation metabolism. However, it is not very clear if manganese deficiency causes diabetes or diabetes causes manganese levels to fall, since the SOD enzyme is found to be lower in people with diabetes.
  • Vasodilator: Manganese has the ability to dilate veins carrying blood to the brain and therefore can prevent stroke related risks like epilepsy. However, just like the blood sugar metabolism, it is not very clear if manganese deficiency causes convulsions or if seizures reduce level of manganese.
  • Reduced PMS: Together with calcium, manganese can reduce pre-menstrual symptoms in women like cramps, pain, anxiety, and mood swings.
  • Thyroid health: Manganese enables the production of thyroxine, a hormone that is important for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland.
  • Wound healing: In humans, collagen is required in significant quantities to heal wounds. Proline is an amino acid essential for collagen formation. Manganese enables the production of proline in our body and therefore contributes to wound healing.

Manganese over dosage: Manganese, being a heavy metal, is toxic in nature, when overdosage occurs.When manganese absorption is more in the body due to anemia, people experience symptoms like tremors, muscle rigidity, poor balance and slow movement. This condition is called manganism.

People with liver or kidney diseases also should be careful to check their manganese levels to ensure that there is no extra absorption of manganese.

Manganese recommended dietary allowance

Manganese recommended dietary allowance for infants and children range from 0.003 mg per day to 1.9 mg for boys in their pre-teens and 1.6 mg for girls. Teenage boys require 2.2 mg while girls 1.6 mg and adult men require 2.3 mg and women 1.8 mg per day of manganese. Pregnant women have slightly elevated requirement of manganese at 2.0 g per day while lactating mothers 2.6 need 2.6 mg per day.

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