What is manganese? The understanding nutrients series

We’re back with another edition of the understanding nutrients series! This series has been going on for a few years and we’re still going strong, covering all the essential nutrients that our body needs.

bowl of chia pudding with fruit, and a glass of orange juice

You can find all the other nutrients covered here.

This month we’re looking at the trace mineral manganese. It’s not often heard about, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch.

Roles of manganese:

A trace mineral means it’s something we need in small amounts, but they still play big roles in our bodies.

Manganese acts as a cofactor for many enzymes in the body. This means it helps the enzymes to work and speed up chemical reactions in the body, which is what keeps our body working. So, it’s quite important!

Fat and carbohydrate metabolism: manganese helps our body use carbohydrates (sugar) and fats for energy by forming part of an enzyme that’s key in energy production. Without manganese, alongside other vitamins, you wouldn’t be able to create energy and all the bodily cells would stop working.

Blood clotting: manganese works together with vitamin K to assist in blood clotting. This is helpful for if someone cuts themselves, as their blood will clot and minimise further losses.

red blood cells

Formation of body structures: manganese plays a role in the formation of bones and connective tissues. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the importance of healthy bones, but connective tissue like cartilage can get a one liner. Cartilage increases bone strength, provides support for bony areas, and can act as a shock absorber all over the body.

Manganese also has other roles like: supporting the enzyme that breaks down harmful ammonia into harmless urea in protein digestion, helping fight free radical damage by supporting an antioxidant enzyme, and supporting reproduction by stimulating sex hormones.

How much manganese do we need?

The government say a safe intake for adults is more than 1.4mg a day. It’s absorbed in our small bowel and most of it is stored in the bone.

What foods are sources of manganese?

bowl of spinach
Manganese is found in foods like wholegrains, shellfish, nuts, legumes and beans, leafy green vegetables, and tea. This isn’t a complete list, but to give you an idea.

  • 25g of hazelnuts has 1.2mg 
  • 100g of tofu has 0.4mg
  • 100g of cooked brown rice has 0.92mg
  • 100g of red lentils has 0.41mg
  • 100g of mussels 0.18mg
  • 80g of raw spinach has 0.48mg

What happens if you don’t get enough manganese?

A deficiency in manganese is rare and so it’s not fully been confirmed what the symptoms would be. But it’s suggested that it can lead to issues with fertility, poor bone health, and skin rashes. It could also lead to abnormal blood sugar control, due to it’s role in carbohydrate metabolism.

It’s treated with supplementation.

various pills and medications

Key points:

  • Manganese is a trace mineral, which means it’s essential but needed in small amounts.
  • Manganese has many roles in the body such as: supporting energy production, helping form bone and connective tissue, and the stimulation of sex hormones.
  • A safe intake of manganese for adults is more than 1.4mg a day.
  • Sources of manganese include: grains, beans and pulses, seafood, and vegetables.
  • If you don’t get enough manganese it can lead to poor bone formation, glucose intolerance, and infertility.

I hope you found this post interesting!

Bye for now 👋





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