Manganese Deficiency

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What is Manganese deficiency?

Manganese deficiency is a condition that develops when individuals does not receive an adequate amount of manganese in their daily diet. This trace mineral is considered an essential nutrient as it is required for proper functioning of the human body.

Our understanding of manganese and the role it plays is still incomplete, but we do know that it plays a vital role in several metabolic processes. Although we require only a small amount of this mineral, its absence can have serious health repercussions.

Manganese deficiency

Manganese Deficiency Causes

Manganese deficiency is not a common problem as it is present and consumed in a wide variety of grains. However, the increased consumption of foods made with processed flour can result in low manganese levels, as the manganese content of processed flour is much lower than that of whole grain flour. When choosing bread, bagels, cake, croissants, doughnuts or any other flour products, it is healthier to choose whole grain varieties. A high intake of iron, phosphorous and calcium can interfere with the absorption of manganese in the small intestine. People who have a diet that is rich in these minerals or those who are on mineral supplements need to take suitable precautions to ensure that they meet their requirement for manganese. People who are malnourished or those on a very restrictive diet are likely to suffer from manganese deficiency along with several other vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Manganese Deficiency Symptoms

Manganese deficiency symptoms can be confused with symptoms of low iron as both these nutritional deficiencies have a few symptoms in common. Manganese deficiency and iron deficiency are both associated with fatigue, weakness, irritability and menstrual problems; however, an iron deficiency causes brittle or grooved nails while a manganese deficiency causes slow wound healing and bone problems. Other signs of manganese deficiency include dermatitis, memory problems and schizophrenia. Low levels of manganese may also reduce fertility and cause skeletal problems in unborn babies. Patients with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are often advised to increase their manganese intake. Although these conditions are not considered to be manganese deficiency diseases, a supplement that contains manganese along with other minerals can improve bone density and overall bone health.

Manganese Deficiency Symptoms - Memory Problems

Daily Adequate Intake (AI) for Manganese

It is important to know the adequate intake levels of manganese before you take manganese supplements. AI is the estimated amount of the nutrient that is used by a group of healthy people and assumed to be adequate.
AgeMaleFemalePregnant Lactating
0-6 months 3 mcg3 mcg
7-12 months600 mcg600 mcg
1-3 years1.2 mg1.2mg
4-8 years 1.5 mg1.5 mg
9-13 years1.9 mg1.6 mg
14-18 years 2.2 mg1.6 mg
19 and older2.3 mg1.8 mg2 mg2.6 mg

Functions of Manganese

Manganese is a component of several enzymes and it is vital to the development and activity of several others. MnSOD (manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase) is one of the most important enzymes related to manganese intake. MnSOD plays an important role in the management of oxidative stress as it is an antioxidant that transforms toxic radicals into hydrogen peroxide and water. It also has cardio-protective benefits and is involved in the process of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Manganese is required for the proper functioning of the brain and so it is used in the treatment of nervous disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Manganese also has an effect on the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates. Animal studies indicate that manganese helps to regulate insulin from the pancreas and so a diet that does not include adequate manganese can result in decreased insulin production. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a decrease in insulin level and so it is important for people with this condition to include manganese-rich foods in their diet. Manganese supplements are also used to prevent and treat certain types of anemia and various bone problems. Increasing manganese intake may help to alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Manganese Food Sources and Supplements

One of the simplest ways to increase your intake of manganese is to have a cup of black tea with your breakfast as this will provide 24 percent of your daily requirement for this mineral. Cloves and cardamom are excellent sources of manganese – 1 tablespoon of clove powder provides 98 percent of your daily requirement while 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom provides 80 percent. Add just a pinch or two of these spices to your cup of tea to increase its manganese content. A dish consisting of 1 cup of raw or cooked spinach or 1 cup of mussels will provide 13 percent of a person’s daily manganese requirement. Ginger is also a good source of manganese as 1 tablespoon of ground ginger will provide 70 percent of your daily manganese requirement. You can add fresh or ground ginger to your meals while preparing them to increase your manganese intake and add flavor to your food. Fruits are also a good source of manganese as just half a cup of raw pineapple chunks will provide over 65 percent of your daily requirement.

Manganese Food Sources


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