- Manganese is a trace mineral that’s important for cellular function, brain health, blood sugar balance, and so much more. This trace mineral is fairly understudied, but we know that healthy levels of manganese in the body are associated with better metabolic function and less oxidative stress.
- It’s easy to get enough manganese through a healthy diet for most people, but it’s still important to be intentional about your mineral intake. Foods like legumes, nuts and seeds, and berries can help you maintain a healthy level of manganese.
- Manganese is recognized by the body for its antioxidant benefits — turning harmful free radicals into benign molecules to protect the cells.
Trace minerals are essential minerals for the body that we only need in small amounts. One example of a trace mineral is manganese — a mineral your body only needs in minimal doses, but can’t survive without.
Manganese doesn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight, likely because it’s easy to consume through a balanced diet. But that shouldn’t deter us from understanding the benefits of manganese and how we can intentionally use it to optimize our health. Manganese is a powerful nutrient — playing an important role in blood sugar regulation, brain health, and cellular wellness.
As minerals become less available through our food (due to mineral-depleted soil and low-quality diets), it’s our hope that holistic medical professionals will turn to essential minerals as a natural way for patients to improve brain function, energy levels, bone density, and more.
Let’s explore the wide-ranging benefits of manganese.
Table of Contents:
- Manganese Benefits
- Manganese Deficiency
- Manganese Sources
- Best Manganese Food Sources
- Manganese Supplement Benefits
- Manganese and Cellular Health
- Manganese Supplementation Could Yield Promising Health Benefits
The recommended daily dose for manganese is around 2 milligrams. However, this recommendation only covers basic organ function — and your body may thrive on a higher dose. You can consume anywhere between 2 mg and 11 mg (the upper-level intake) of manganese daily without problems.
Here are just a few manganese benefits you may experience when consuming healthy amounts of the mineral:
- Strong bones*
- Healthy connective tissue and more collagen production*
- Faster metabolism*
- Healthy nerve function*
- Antioxidant benefits*
- Blood sugar balance*
- Increased dopamine levels*
- Improved energy levels*
- Fewer PMS symptoms and improved reproductive health*
- Reduced intestinal permeability/leaky gut*
- Better immune health*
- Lowered inflammation*
- Reduced stroke risk*
- Reduced seizure risk*
- Better calcium absorption*
- Increased brain function*
Minerals are doing important work behind the scenes for whole-body functionality that usually goes unrecognized. And, when brain or immune function starts to decline, we often explore many other root causes, before turning to mineral imbalance — when mineral balancing may be all that’s needed to restore function.
Manganese Benefits for Brain Health*
When considering manganese and brain health, it’s important to understand that manganese is a cofactor for many essential enzymes in the brain. One enzyme, arginase, plays a role in the neural-immune response, contributing to neuronal protection. Another enzyme, glutamine synthetase, helps to reduce oxidative stress.
Manganese Benefits for Reproductive Health*
Manganese is needed for optimal metabolic health, which in turn, benefits reproductive and hormone health. In fact, manganese is a cofactor for enzymes used in cholesterol synthesis. Optimal levels of healthy cholesterol are required to produce reproductive hormones.
Feel like your hormones are out of whack? Manganese (and other essential minerals) may help to curb your symptoms and get your metabolic health and reproductive health back on track.
Manganese Benefits for Gut Permeability*
In one animal study, manganese was used as a first defense against the foodborne pathogen Salmonella in chickens. It was shown to decrease intestinal permeability, improve microbiota composition, and reduce inflammation in the gut.
The immune system and gut microbiome are interwoven — with the gut microbiota often alerting the immune system to pathogens and unhealthy bacteria. When we take steps to optimize our gut health, we are one step closer to a healthier immune system.
The good news is, manganese can be stored in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas for a rainy day. It’s uncommon for people to experience severe manganese deficiency — and therefore few studies exist to sound the alarm about associated symptoms.
However, manganese cannot be made in the human body — so we must get it through a dietary source. As soil quality continues to deteriorate, so do our fresh fruits, veggies, and grains (which are a primary source of manganese!). Add in chronic stress or chronic illness, and manganese deficiency may become a very real concern.
Here are some symptoms of manganese deficiency to watch out for:
- Skin rash
- Bone demineralization
- Hair pigment issues
- Period pain
- Mood disorders
- Slow metabolism
If you experience a handful of these manganese deficiency symptoms, it may be worthwhile to experiment with higher levels of manganese (up to the 11 mg upper limit) using manganese supplements.
Other minerals like iron can interfere with manganese absorption, too. So if you’re taking an iron supplement, it’s possible you’re low on manganese.
You might choose to experiment with a healthy dose of manganese liquid minerals and see if it improves your symptoms. With your healthcare practitioner’s supervision, you can also test your manganese levels through hair mineral analysis labs and supplement according to your results. If you want a more DIY way to test your mineral levels, check out our blog on liquid mineral taste testing.
Easy Manganese Sources
While most health professionals say a healthy diet is enough to maintain manganese levels, it’s important to be intentional. If you want to prioritize mineral intake, try adding these manganese sources to your daily routine:
Best Manganese Food Sources
High-quality fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans, especially those grown locally, are more likely to fulfill your daily intake of manganese. Opt for organic foods as much as possible and regularly visit your local farmer’s market. Shopping for nutritious foods that are in season is one way to make sure you find foods that still maintain their nutritional profile, too.
Lentils, beans, and chickpeas are all considered part of the legume family. Not only are they high in fiber and great for naturally balancing blood sugar, but legumes are also fantastic sources of manganese. Chickpeas have the highest content of manganese, with around 0.9 milligrams per half-cup serving.
Crab, lobster, oyster, scallops, and mussels are top of our recommendations list for healthy mineral consumption. They are high in magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Pack in a few mussels, and you’ve already exceeded the recommended daily intake of manganese. If you can’t find fresh shellfish, canned is great too!
Spinach and kale are particularly great natural sources for your daily manganese intake. These leafy greens also pack a punch when it comes to other vitamins and minerals, which are important to maintain homeostasis (aka balance) in the body.
Already an excellent source of antioxidants, polyphenols, and vitamins, berries are similarly abundant in their manganese content. When grown organically (or even better, picked wild!) just one cup of berries can help you reach your daily manganese intake. Try consuming wild blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Nuts and Seeds
Hazelnuts, pecans, and peanuts are all healthy sources of manganese. Plus, they have the added benefits of healthy fats, protein, and more vitamins and minerals. An easy add to trail mix or a salad, seeds are also well-known for their manganese content, with just a handful of pumpkin seeds exceeding the daily recommended intake of manganese.
Manganese Supplement Benefits
Manganese supplements offer a myriad of benefits, especially to those with chronic stress, chronic illness, or those regularly supplementing with iron (this mineral competes for the same proteins as manganese).
Manganese supplements may also be recommended to those with physical injuries or weak ligaments to promote faster healing. Since manganese is known to help reduce inflammation, provide antioxidant benefits, and improve blood sugar balance, it’s a worthwhile addition to any wellness routine. After a few weeks on manganese, you may notice a reduction in symptoms plus some extra benefits you didn’t expect.
Manganese and Cellular Health
Free radicals damage our cells — and one of the best tools to fight against free radical damage is antioxidants. Even though manganese is considered a mineral, it also has antioxidant benefits. To the body, manganese is recognized as part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. This enzyme directly impacts your cellular health by turning damaging free radicals into neutral molecules. It also protects your mitochondria from oxidative damage.
Manganese Supplementation Could Yield Promising Health Benefits
You’re not going to hear about manganese health benefits at your average doctor’s visit. Even if you research all the latest health trends, it’s unlikely that you’ll find manganese recommended for any health condition.
Despite the relatively little research done on manganese, we believe manganese can be a powerful tool to help achieve optimal wellness, especially if you are suboptimal or deficient in this essential mineral. Combined with a healthy diet and a focus on mineral consumption through your food, supplementing manganese often surprises our customers with unexpected health benefits, such as better blood sugar control, brain health, a faster metabolism, and optimal immunity.
The truth is, there’s so little information out there about manganese deficiency, much less insufficiency — we just don't know the difference this trace mineral could be making in our lives. Until we try it for ourselves.
More Mineral Guides by BodyBio:
- Benefits of Magnesium
- Benefits of Zinc
- Benefits of Molybdenum
- Benefits of Iodine
- Benefits of Selenium
- Benefits of Copper
- Benefits of Chromium
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