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, reviewed by
Kimberly Langdon M.D.
The immune system is the body’s defense against infections, designed to attack dangerous organisms and to help keep us healthy. There is a relationship between immunity and trace minerals, like iron, zinc, and manganese - called nutritional immunity. Nutritional immunity is a process to prevent infection, by which the body isolates trace minerals during infection to impair the growth of invading bacteria. We believe that this decline in metals starves the invading bacteria.
One of the many enzymes that manganese helps activate is manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). MnSOD helps to maintain mitochondrial and cell membranes by getting rid of free radicals that can damage the fats (lipids) in the cell membrane. Studies report that this enzyme also has the potential to be used as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Manganese plays a role in the metabolism of glucose and fats, helping to normalize the production and secretion of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Supplementing with manganese may help to stabilize blood sugar.
There is no evidence to show toxicity from too much dietary manganese. However, manganese toxicity has occurred in people working in occupations like welding or mining who inhale a high amount of manganese dust.
Manganese toxicity can cause tremors, muscle spasms, tinnitus, hearing loss, or the feeling of being unsteadiness. Additional symptoms may include mental health issues, insomnia, headaches, lower extremity weakness, mood changes, or reduced hand-eye coordination.
Iron deficiency can increase manganese absorption and may exacerbate symptoms of manganese toxicity. People with chronic liver disease may also be at risk of manganese toxicity as they have impaired manganese elimination in bile.
Manganese is not known to have any interactions with medications.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of manganese—or, the average daily intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy individuals—is 2.3 mg for adult men and 1.8 mg for adult women. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take 2.0 mg daily and 2.6 mg daily, respectively.
Many women experience anxiety, cramping, pain, and mood swings as menstrual cycle symptoms. One small study of 10 women with regular menstrual cycles measured the effect of calcium and manganese supplementation on menstrual cycle symptoms. Results show that those with low blood levels of manganese experienced more pain and mood-related symptoms during pre-menstruation.
Wound healing requires increased collagen production, the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. Manganese helps to produce the amino acid proline, which is essential for collagen formation. While more research is needed, some studies show that treating wounds with manganese, calcium, and zinc may improve healing.
Manganese is in various foods like whole grains, clams, oysters, mussels, nuts, legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea, and many spices. Drinking water also contains small amounts of manganese. Humans absorb only about 1% to 5% of dietary manganese. Research suggests that men absorb dietary manganese less efficiently than women. This may be because men usually have higher iron levels, which are inversely associated with manganese absorption.