Manganese: Functions and benefits of the magic mineral
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Manganese is an essential nutrient for the human body. Its name has been derived from the Greek word for magic owing to its beneficial properties. Manganese is an antioxidant, plays a vital role in the breakdown of vitamin E and activates various enzymes which are important for proper digestion and utilization of foods.

The total body manganese is 15 mg. Maximum concentration is in the liver (1.5 ppm). In the cells it is mainly seen inside the nuclei as complexed with nucleic acids. In the blood, manganese is bound to the specific carrier protein, transmanganin. It is excreted through bile and pancreatic juice.

Functions of Manganese:

It is an integral part of glycosyl transferases responsible for the synthesis of glycoproteins and chondroitin sulfate.

The condensation of mevalonate to sqalane is manganese dependent, therefore manganese plays a crucial role in the synthesis of cholesterol.

It is also required for RNA polymerase activity.

The following enzymes either contain or are activated by manganese – hexokinase, phosphoglucomutase, pyruvate carboxylase, isocitrate dehydrogenese,  succinate dehydrogenase etc. Manganese is a catalyst in the breakdown of fats and cholesterol.

It helps nourish the nerves and brain and is essential for normal skeletal development.

It helps maintain sex hormone production.

It regulates blood sugar levels.

It plays an important role in a number of physiological processes as a constituent and activator of various enzymes.

Manganese Superoxide dismutase is the main antioxidant enzyme of the mitochondria, the power house of cells in our body.

A number of manganese  activated enzymes play a crucial role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol.

It helps in the process of glyconeogenesis – the production of glucose from non carbohydrate precursors.  Arginase,  a manganese containing enzyme is required by the liver for the urea cycle, a process that detoxifies ammonia generated during amino acid metabolism.

Benefits of Manganese:

Manganese aids the process of would healing.

It is necessary for skeletal development.

It is a powerful antioxidant that helps damage free radicals in the body.

It is beneficial for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis as well as those suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It reduces the symptoms of irritability, depression, anxiety and mood swings.

It helps prevents heart disease and cancer.

It plays a vital role in the metabolism of proteins and the release of energy.

It is used to treat nervous disorders.

It is needed for healthy brain function.

It is essential for glucose metabolism.

It helps strengthen the immune system and fight diseases.

It is used to control the possibilities of major and minor seizures in epilepsy.

It helps overcome dizziness and memory problems.

It helps in the synthesis of hemoglobin.

A combination of iron, copper and manganese is used to treat hypochronic anemia.

It plays an important role in normal reproductive physiology and produces more milk in nursing mothers.

It is required for the formation of cartilage and lubricating fluid in the joints.

It works with B complex group of vitamins to fight anxiety depression and other nervous disorders.

It fights fatigue and reduces heavy menstrual flows.

It is important for cerebral function as it is essential for glucose utilization within the brain and neurotransmitter control.

The correlation of bone deformity with magnesium was discovered in 1936 by Nerious and Leons. In 1961 it was declared important for growth, skeletal development, reproduction and central nervous system (CNS).


The recommended dosage of magnesium is 2-5 mg per day. An intake of up to 10 mg per day is safe.

Side Effects of Manganese:

If taken in excess manganese is toxic. It can result in manganism, a form of Parkinson’s disease.

Supplementary forms include manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate, manganese ascorbate and manganese amino acid chelates.

Manganese Deficiency:

A deficiency in the mineral leads to abnormal skeletal development, increased serum, raised cholesterol levels, depression, slow hair growth, scaly dermatitis, weight loss, impaired growth, impaired reproductive function, impaired glucose tolerance, altered carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Low levels of manganese  also leads to infertility, weakness and seizures.

Manganese Sources:

These include nuts, almonds, hazel nuts, cereals, green leafy vegetables, tea, desiccated coconut, brown rice, pineapples, lemons, whole grain, wheat germ, shellfish, organ meats, egg yolks, blueberries, dried peas, parsley etc.  Vitamin E, C, K, B1 and zinc are important for the absorption of manganese. Excessive calcium and phosphorus inhibit the absorption of the mineral. The use of antibiotics, alcohol and intake of too much refined food products also decreases the amount of manganese stores in the body.