Manganese is a trace mineral. It is vital to the human body, but humans only need it in small amounts.
Manganese contributes to many body functions including amino acids, cholesterol, glucose and carbohydrate metabolism. It also plays a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing inflammation.
The human body cannot produce manganese, but can store it in the liver, pancreas, bones, kidneys, and brain. A person usually gets manganese from his diet.
Learn more about how manganese works in the body and where to find it in this article.
Manganese helps create an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, molecules that destroy or damage cells in the body.
Authors of a 2011 study found that SOD helps break down one of the more dangerous free radicals, called superoxide, into smaller non-harmful components.
In laboratory and animal models, this process can reduce inflammation associated with lung pleurisy, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.
However, more research is needed to prove the benefits of these antioxidants in the human body.
When combined with other nutrients such as manganese, calcium and vitamin D, it can help support strong, dense bones.
Although some previous research suggested that manganese can make bones denser, more recent research has noted that calcium and vitamin D are the most important promoters of bone health.
For people with diabetes, manganese can help lower blood sugar levels.
Authors of a 2014 study conducted in South Korea found that people with diabetes have lower levels of manganese in their bodies. But it’s not clear whether this is a causal factor or a consequence of diabetes.
Another study, this time in mice, showed that manganese helps the pancreas create insulin. Insulin is what the body uses to help regulate blood sugar.
Taking manganese supplements can help a person with diabetes to naturally produce more insulin, but more research needs to be done in humans to confirm these effects.
Along with vitamin K, manganese helps form blood clots. Blood clot, which keeps blood in a damaged vein, is the first stage of wound healing.
Therefore, having sufficient levels of manganese in the body can help stop blood loss when a person has an open wound.
Small amounts of manganese are found in a variety of foods, including:
A person can take manganese supplements if their doctor believes they have a deficiency.
There is no recommended daily intake of manganese, but Adequate Intake (AI) is 2.3 milligrams (mg) per day for adult males and 1.8 mg per day for adult females.
People interested in purchasing manganese supplements can purchase them from their local pharmacy or online. Manganese is also present in some multivitamins.
Typical forms available include:
However, people generally don’t need supplements to reach their daily manganese AI.
If a person is only getting from dietary sources, manganese is unlikely to cause any side effects.
People taking manganese supplements should not take more than the amount recommended for the bottle. However, if a person experiences any problem, it will likely be overexposed for years.
People should speak to their healthcare professional before taking manganese supplements. It is important to ask if manganese can interfere with your current medications or worsen an existing medical condition.
If a person experiences side effects from taking manganese supplements, they should stop taking them and talk to a doctor.
Manganese deficiency is rare but possible. If this occurs, the doctor will prescribe manganese supplements or may suggest taking manganese intravenously if absorption is a problem.
Symptoms of a potential manganese deficiency include:
The major risk associated with manganese is for people working in an environment where they can breathe it.
Melting and welding are two high-risk activities for accidental manganese inhalation. Inhaled manganese is dangerous because the body carries the mineral directly to the brain before it is processed for proper use.
Manganese inhaled over time can lead to a serious condition called manganism. Manganism is similar to Parkinson’s disease.
Symptoms of manganism include:
Although much less common, a person may experience similar symptoms if they are exposed to too much manganese in their water, food, or supplements. The average, healthy person doesn’t need to worry about overexposure to manganese in their food or supplements.
However, some people have a higher risk of experiencing a toxic reaction to manganese, such as:
People taking or considering taking manganese supplements should discuss their need for supplements with their doctor first.
- Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral found in some food groups. Despite being highly toxic, it plays an important role in many body functions, including maintaining bone health and processing sugar.
- Most people get enough manganese from their regular diet. However, some people with deficiencies may need to take manganese supplements.
- People working in professions such as welding are at risk of developing health problems from prolonged exposure to inhaled manganese.
- Anyone concerned about their manganese intake or exposure can talk to their doctor about the test and next steps.
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