Benefits Of Manganese (Plus Deficiency Effects)

You only need a tiny amount of manganese, but without it, your body could very well shut down.

This trace mineral is critical for digesting and absorbing food, preventing inflammation, creating neurotransmitters, and keeping your skin and joints healthy.

Keep reading to discover the amazing things manganese can do and how to incorporate more of it into your diet.

What is Manganese?

Manganese is an essential trace mineral. Your body requires it for a wide array of functions, but only in small amounts.

You don’t want too little manganese, but you definitely don’t want too much.

There is a lot we still don’t know about this trace mineral, but we do know that it is important in the activity of many enzymes. Enzymes speed up chemical reactions and are crucial to the proper functioning of your body.

Manganese is often confused with magnesium, a mineral that is important for muscle contractions and the communication of nerves. Both are minerals, but they act differently in the body.

Sources Of Manganese

Good sources of manganese include blueberries, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and green tea. There is also some manganese in black tea and coffee, but in lower amounts than in green tea.

It’s still not known for sure exactly how much manganese we need daily, but the Food and Drug Administration has determined that a daily intake of 2.3 mg for men and 1.8 mg for women should be enough to prevent deficiencies in most people.

Speeds Up Metabolism

There are many enzymes that are important to metabolism. Manganese is needed for many of these, including ones necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol.

Manganese helps form two important enzymes called PEP Carboxykinase and Pyruvate Carboxylase. These enzymes are crucial to a process called gluconeogenesis.

Gluconeogenesis is how your body creates energy between meals or when you eat a low-carbohydrate diet.

Another enzyme, called Arginase, is made using manganese. Arginase is important for the urea cycle, which gets rid of harmful ammonia produced by the breakdown of proteins.

Decreases Inflammation

Manganese forms the major enzyme that helps create antioxidants within the mitochondria. The mitochondria is the part of the cell that produces energy for your body from the food you eat.

Mitochondria use a lot of oxygen, which makes them vulnerable to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress leads to inflammation because it produces free radicals.

An enzyme called MnSOD allows dangerous free radicals to ultimately be converted into harmless water – this prevents the free radicals from causing harm and reduces levels of inflammation.

Better Joint Health

Glucosamine and Chondroitin is a common supplement for the treatment of arthritis. Manganese is often included in these supplements because it helps with the absorption of chondroitin.

According to one study, people with arthritis are often found to have low levels of manganese.

In arthritis, the cartilage inside the joints is worn down and causes pain and reduced mobility. Manganese is important to joint health because it is needed for maintaining the health of this cartilage.

Strengthens Bones

Manganese is an important mineral for the formation of healthy bones.

Manganese deficiency in children and babies, although rare, can cause bone deformities.

Some women with Osteoporosis benefit from adding manganese, along with copper and zinc, to their calcium supplements. Manganese is thought to help increase the amount of calcium that your body absorbs.

Helps With Skin Care

Manganese is an important mineral in the health of your skin. Without manganese, you body could not activate the enzyme prolidase, which is needed for the creation of collagen.

Collagen is a protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity. When you have a skin wound, new collagen is created to help grow new skin and repair the wound.

Collagen is also present in many skin creams and anti-aging supplements. Manganese has the potential to be a good addition to skin-care routines but has not been well-studied for this use.

Relieves PMS Symptoms

Low levels of manganese might worsen or even cause premenstrual syndrome in some women.

In an early study, women who experienced severe PMS symptoms like mood swings, cramps, depression, and irritability had deficiencies in manganese. When given manganese supplements, their symptoms improved.

Women with PMS can safely incorporate more manganese-containing foods in the weeks before their menstrual cycle to see if it relieves some of their symptoms.

Manganese For Blood Pressure

The role of manganese in blood pressure is still unknown, but some studies show that there is a link between this mineral and hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Increasing levels of manganese in Korean adults also seemed to increase their risk of hypertension, according to one study. This suggests that manganese supplementation may not be a good idea for people at risk for high blood pressure.

Effects On Blood Sugar

Manganese could have a role in blood sugar control and Type II Diabetes.

So far, results have been mixed on whether manganese improves blood sugar control or impairs it.

What is clear is that manganese deficiency, although rare, can have effects that look very similar to Type II Diabetes. One common symptom of deficiency is glucose intolerance.

Glucose intolerance means you tend to have higher than usual levels of sugar in your blood. This can lead to Type II Diabetes.

Help For Tinnitus

There is some anecdotal evidence showing that low manganese levels cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

Studies done on manganese supplements for tinnitus have not been able to show that they work. However, these studies were very small and had high drop-out rates.

Some medical professionals suggest checking your manganese levels if you have tinnitus that won’t go away with other treatments.

It’s important to note that too much manganese can accumulate in the inner ear and actually cause further hearing problems, so caution should be used when using supplements.

Effects On Epilepsy

Many people with seizures have lower levels of manganese.

Although manganese deficiency is not thought to be the cause of epilepsy, there does seem to be a relationship between the two. Studies are still being done to figure out how this mineral affects seizure activity.

Better Thyroid Health

Although not fully understood, there is a link between manganese and the thyroid hormones.

In one study, women with hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, had lower levels of manganese. Women with hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, had higher levels of manganese.

Improves Digestion

Manganese is important for the digestion and absorption of fats like cholesterol. Cholesterol, while sometimes viewed as a “bad” fat, is still important to many processes in the body.

Manganese is a part of many digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. These enzymes help break down food in the stomach and small intestine.

Effect On Cognitive Function

Manganese is a mineral necessary for the creation of glutamate. Glutamate is a precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA.

GABA acts to calm your central nervous system and is necessary for the prevention of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Many people with these symptoms benefit from supplementation of GABA, so it is possible that manganese can also be a useful supplement for these mental conditions.

Good Or Bad For Allergies

Although manganese has not been shown to have any affect on the treatment of allergies, it is known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Topical forms of manganese such as manganese chloride and manganese oxide can cause skin rashes and itching in about 20% of people.

In Relation To Hair Loss

A manganese deficiency may cause hair to become brittle and fall out. Low levels of manganese have frequently been seen in studies on people with alopecia.

Takeaway Notes

  • Manganese is an essential trace mineral that is needed for many processes in the body.
  • Good sources of manganese are whole grains, nuts and legumes.
  • Deficiencies in manganese are rare but can possibly lead to inflammation, hair loss, arthritis, and many other conditions.
  • Too much manganese can lead to neurological problems that can mimic Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Men should consume 2.3 mg per day, while women should get 1.8 mg.
Kelli Yates
Kelli Yates
Kelli Yates is a health and nutrition writer, dietetics student, and co-host and creator of The Nutrition Nerds Podcast. In her spare time she teaches the free class Well-Fed Survival: Eating Healthy After A Disaster, which helps people build nutritious emergency food supplies and prepare for natural disasters.
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