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What does it do? Manganese is needed for healthy skin, bone, and cartilage formation, as well as glucose tolerance. It also helps activate superoxide dismutase (SOD)—an important antioxidant enzyme.

Where is it found? Nuts, wheat germ, wheat bran, leafy green vegetables, beet tops, pineapple, and seeds are all good sources of manganese.

Who is likely to be deficient? Many people consume less than the 2.5–5 mg of manganese currently considered safe and adequate. Nonetheless, clear deficiencies are rare. Individuals with osteoporosis sometimes have low blood levels of manganese, suggestive of deficiency.1

How much is usually taken? Whether most people would benefit from manganese supplementation remains unclear. The 5–15 mg often found in high-potency multivitamin/mineral supplement is generally considered to be a reasonable level for those wishing to supplement manganese.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Amounts found in supplements (5–20 mg) have not been linked with any toxicity. Excessive intake of manganese can lead to the rare side effects of dementia and psychiatric symptoms. Preliminary research suggests that individuals with cirrhosis may not be able to properly excrete manganese; until more is known, these people should not supplement manganese.2

Several minerals, such as calcium and iron, and possibly zinc reduce the absorption of manganese.3 Zinc and copper work together with manganese to activate superoxide dismutase.


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