Manganese is a metal that occurs widely in plant and animal tissues. It is called a trace element because it is found in very small quantities in the human body. Our bodies store approximatley 20 milligrams of manganese, mostly in the bones. Manganese aids in forming connective tissue, fats and cholesterol, bones, blood-clotting factors, and proteins. It is also necessary for normal brain function. Manganese is a component of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), an antioxidant that protects the body from toxic substances. It is easy to obtain adequate amounts of manganese from the diet.
The following illnesses may be affected by manganese.
- Diabetes. People who have diabetes sometimes have significantly less manganese than healthy people. Manganese decreases blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joints) can have low levels of MnSOD, which helps protect the joints from damage during inflammation. Manganese supplementation increases MnSOD activity.
- Epilepsy. An important study in the early 1960s demonstrated that manganese-deficient rats were more susceptible to seizures and had electroencephalograms (EEGs) consistent with seizure activity.
- Schizophrenia. People who have schizophrenia may also respond well to manganese supplementation.
- Osteoporosis. Bone loss occurs more rapidly after menopause and can lead to osteoporosis (brittle, thin, bones). Manganese, and other trace elements, increase bone density in postmenopausal women.
- Other conditions. Manganese is also used to treat hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), tinnitus, and hearing loss.
- Nuts (especially pecans and almonds)
- Wheat germ and whole grains
- Unrefined cereals
- Leafy vegetables
- Legumes (peanuts, beans)
- Dried fruits
Refined grains, meats, and dairy products contain very small amounts of manganese. Unrefined foods, such as whole grain breads and cereals, are higher in manganese.
Manganese is available in a wide variety of forms including manganese salts (sulfate and gluconate) and manganese chelates (aspartate, picolinate, fumarate, malate, succinate, citrate, and amino acid chelate). It is available in tablets or capsules, usually along with other vitamins and minerals.
How to Take It
There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for manganese. Dietary recommendations are based on typical dietary intake and are intended to prevent deficiency symptoms. The average intake of manganese ranges from 2 mg to 9 mg per day. In some cases, people may require more manganese (10 mg per day) than is indicated below.
The estimated safe and adequate daily intakes for manganese are 2 to 5 mg for adults, 1 to 3 mg for children and adolescents, and 0.3 to 1 mg for infants.
Excessive intake of manganese can produce toxic effects. You should not regularly exceed the estimated safe and adequate daily intakes for manganese listed above.
Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc compete for absorption in the small intestines. Excess intake of one can reduce the absorption of the others. Excess manganese may produce iron-deficiency anemia.
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