Manganese is required by the body for proper enzyme functioning, nutrient absorption, wound healing, and bone development. Manganese deficiency is rare but can be expressed in poor bone health, joint pain, and fertility problems. Manganese toxicity from food sources is also rare, but can adversely affect the neurological system.
Health benefits of manganese include strengthening weak bones, anti-oxidant protection, alleviating premenstrual syndrome (PMS), anemia, arthritis, alopecia (spot baldness), and prevention of epileptic seizures. However, more research needs to be conducted to confirm these health benefits.
Foods high in manganese include mussels, clams, nuts, pumpkin seeds, whole wheat bread, tofu, beans, fish (bass), spinach, whole grains, and black tea. The current DV for manganese is 2mg. Below is a list of high manganese foods, for more, see the lists of high manganese foods by nutrient density, and manganese rich foods.
Other Beans High in Manganese (%DV per cup cooked): Winged Beans (103%), Chickpeas (84%), Adzuki Beans (66%), White Beans (57%), Black-eyed Beans (47%), and Kidney Beans (42%).
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Other Dark Green Leafy Vegetables High in Manganese (%DV per cup cooked): Frozen Spinach (68%), Amaranth Leaves (57%), Beet Greens (37%), Swiss Chard (29%), and Napa Cabbage (11%).
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Antioxidant Protection - Magnanese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is the principle antioxidant used during energy production in the mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells).2
Osteoporosis Protection (*Controversial) - Two recent studies have found that women with osteoporosis have lowerblood manganese levels, than women without osteoporosis.3,4 This finding is a correlation, and does not suggest any specific linkbetween manganese and osteoporosis, however, it is promising since manganese is involved in bone development. Despite this theory anotherstudy found no difference in blood magnesium levels between women with osteoporosis and women without it, creating doubts about the effects of manganese.5
Prevention of Epileptic Seizures - Preliminary studies in rats show that those with lower manganese levels aremore prone to epileptic seizures. There is also evidence that people with lower manganese levels have a greater risk of epileptic seizures. The causes of epilepsy, however, are not well understood, and more research needs to be done before there can be a conclusive link between epilepsy and manganese.6,7
Prevention of Alopecia (Spot Baldness) - A study on alopecia reported that all 19 participants were deficient inmanganese. Several other participants also had problems with calcium absorption and zinc metabolism. After 2-3 months of micro-nutrient therapy normal hair growth was resumed.8
Mussels, Oysters, and Clams are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.
Intake of manganese from enriched infant formulas can lead to hyperactive children, or learning disabled children. Excessivelevels of manganese are toxic and suppliments should be approached with care.9
Freeland-Graves J, Llanes C. Models to study manganese deficiency. In: Klimis-Tavantzis DL, ed. Manganese in health and disease. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Inc; 1994.
Reginster JY, Strause LG, Saltman P, Franchimont P. Trace elements and postmenopausal osteoporosis: a preliminary study of decreased serum manganese. Med Sci Res. 1988;16:337-338.
Odabasi E, Turan M, Aydin A, Akay C, Kutlu M. Magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium levels in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Can magnesium play a key role in osteoporosis? Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2008;37(7):564-567.
Keen CL, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Manganese. In: Ziegler EE, Filer LJ, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 7th ed. Washington D.C.: ILSI Press; 1996:334-343.
Carl GF, Gallagher BB. Manganese and epilepsy. In: Klimis-Tavantzis DL, ed. Manganese in health and disease. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Inc; 1994:133-157.
Blaurock-Busch, E. Wichtige Nahrstoffe fur Gesunde Haut und Haare, Kosmetik Internat. 3/87.
Collipp, P.J., et al. Manganese in infant formulas and learning disability. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 27(6):488-494, 1983.