The chemical element manganese is only present in our body in extremely small amounts compared to other trace elements, but this does not mean that it is not important to us.
This important trace element, for example, makes a non-insignificant contribution to our feeling of happiness and controls the existential processes in the energy balance of each cell in the body, so it activates vital enzymes. It is also involved in the construction of our bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
Trace elements are essential chemical substances (mainly metals) that our bodies cannot synthesize on their own, and that must be supplied from the outside with food or water, although in very low doses.
What is manganese?
Its chemical symbol is “Mn” and the atomic weight is 55. The metal was discovered in 1774 by Swedish scientists. At room temperature, it is in a solid-state and its density is 7.43 grams per cubic centimeter.
Our body contains up to 40 milligrams of manganese, 40 percent of which is found only in our bones.
The other parts are found mainly in the liver, kidneys, muscles, pancreas, and hair pigments, which are responsible for the color of our hair.
Features and benefits
Manganese also contributes to the accumulation of various fats and proteins and works with the synthesis and secretion of insulin, as well as with the production of urea.
But the body’s own production of melanin and dopamine (a neurotransmitter) also goes back to the chemical activity of manganese, these messenger substances in the brain allow you to feel happy and feel motivated.
These are small combustion chambers in cells in which energy is “incubated.” If we lack this element, their tasks are first performed by the element magnesium, which is not so abundant for most people.
Foods rich in manganese
Good sources of manganese are, for example, spinach, leeks, or lettuce, as well as rice, cereals, and legumes. We find less of it in dairy products, fish, and meat.
Interestingly, 100 grams of black tea can contain up to 70 milligrams of manganese, but the body does not absorb it so well. Here are some concrete examples of foods rich in manganese, with the content in milligrams per 100 grams.
- Oatmeal – 5
- Soy flour – 4
- Wheat bran – 3.7
- Whole Wheat Flour – 3.5
- Hazelnuts – 3
- Wholemeal Bread – 2.5
- Millet – 1.9
- Rice – 1.1
So far, our daily manganese requirements are based on estimates only. The adequate daily intake for adults, adolescents, and children from 7 years of age are between 2 and 5 milligrams.
A somewhat greater need may arise, for example:
- A diet rich in refined carbohydrates or processed foods such as prepared foods,
- Increased oxidative stress,
- High alcohol consumption,
- Iron-rich supplements,
- Psychological stress or disorders.
A manganese deficiency that endangers health is extremely rare.
Normally, we can almost meet our daily requirement of only three to four milligrams with a balanced diet. However, it is known that manganese absorption works quite badly, as several other substances can hinder its use.
These include, for example:
Foods that promote manganese absorption are:
- Mungo and Princess Beans
- Citrus fruits
Organically bound manganese such as chelate or gluconate is used somewhat better than inorganic manganese sulfate.
Causes and effects of a deficiency
The deficiency symptoms are barely known, but that does not mean they do not exist. It can be said that many of the deficiency symptoms identified may be due to a manganese deficiency. The medical findings alone are not clear.
In the course of animal experiments, reduced growth and disorders in bone tissue formation were found.
The following disorders are attributed today to the lack of manganese:
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Tinnitus and hearing loss
- Muscular weakness
- Pancreatic disorders
It is now assumed that a manganese deficiency is associated with a decrease in cholesterol, especially in relation to HDL cholesterol, as a result of which a fatty liver can develop. In addition, insulin formation and associated blood sugar regulation may be altered.
By the way, the development of glucose intolerance is also likely. The first symptoms include loss of appetite and weight loss. Another typical consequence of a deficiency is an altered accumulation of cartilage and bone tissue.
In addition, manganese deficiency can damage the skin, nails, and hair. The susceptibility to oxidative stress of free radicals also increases.
A connection was found between manganese deficiency and the appearance of personality disorders, dementia, and depression.
The manganese content is measured by a blood test. Our blood normally contains 7.0 to 10.5 micrograms per liter (guide values), although the blood serum should also contain 0.3 to 1.1 micrograms per liter.
What happens if we overdose it?
There are no side effects in healthy adults with manganese supplements of up to 50 milligrams per day. However, undesirable effects associated with occupational exposure to manganese oxide dust have been observed in the course of industrial processing.
There are some professional groups in which an excess or even intoxication is conceivable. The type of poisoning depends largely on the speed or intensity of its excess.
Therefore, a distinction must be made, for example, between chronic and acute manganese poisoning. Complaints are expressed in several ways and are not specific.
Manganese poisoning by contaminated drinking water
Deficiency symptoms have only been observed in very rare cases in humans. Only in animal experiments could it be observed that a deficiency can lead to changes in bone and brain structure.
In humans, low levels of manganese have been linked to an increase in cholesterol and a decrease in glucose utilization, but these data are not yet known with certainty.
Manganese can cause poisoning if consumed in excess. However, toxic effects cannot be achieved with food alone. Poisoning occurs mainly due to contaminated drinking water.
The symptoms of intoxication include muscle pain, speech disorders, spasms and hallucinations of the Parkinsonian type.