WHAT IS MANGANESE?
Manganese is a micromineral (or trace element) that activates a number of enzymes in the body. It also supports strong, healthy bones. In this article I will be discussing manganese in greater detail.
WHEN WAS MANGANESE DISCOVERED?
One of the main ores of manganese is pyrolusite (a compound of manganese and oxygen – manganese dioxide). Early artists used this ore in two ways; to give glass a purple colour and to remove colour from glass. During the mid 1700s chemists started to suspect that pyrolusite may contain a new element and started to analyse it in more detail.
The discovery of manganese is sometimes credited to the German chemist Ignatius Gottfried Kaim who is said to have isolated it from pyrolusite in 1770. However, his report was not read by many chemists and it was soon lost. Most sources credit the discovery to Swedish mineralogist Johann Gottlieb Gahn who managed to isolate manganese from pyrolusite in 1774. He did this by heating it with charcoal (which is pure carbon). The carbon removed the oxygen from pyrolusite leaving just manganese behind.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE MANGANESE?
The body stores between 15 and 20 milligrams (mg) of manganese. The majority of this is stored in the bones with the remainder being stored in the adrenal glands, kidneys, liver, pancreas and pituitary glands. As discussed above, the main role of manganese is to activate enzymes in the body but it also has many other functions. The list below outlines the major roles of manganese in the body:
– Acting as part of the metalloenzymes; arginase (an enzyme in the liver responsible for creating urea), glutamine synthetase (an enzyme involved in the production of glutamine), manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase (an enzyme that has antioxidant properties and protects the body from oxygen related damage) and phosphoenolpyruvate decarboxylase (an enzyme that helps break down blood glucose).
– Activating the enzymes glycolsyltranserferases and xylosyltransferases which both assist in the formation of bones.
– Activating the enzymes that utilise several key nutrients including choline, vitamin B1, vitamin B7 and vitamin C.
– Assisting in the metabolism of carbohydrates, dietary fats and proteins.
– Assisting in the production of thyroxine (a hormone that regulates the generation of body heat and the use of oxygen in cells).
– Maintaining normal blood glucose levels (which can be of particular benefit for people suffering from diabetes).
– Promoting nervous system health.
– Promoting reproductive health by assisting in the production of sex hormones.
HOW MUCH MANGANESE DO YOU NEED?
Our need for manganese increases as we age. In 2000 the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences established the following adequate intake (AI) levels for this nutrient:
– Children aged 0-6 months:- 0.003mg.
– Children aged 7-12 months:- 0.6mg.
– Children aged 1-3 years:- 1.2mg.
– Children aged 4-8 years:- 1.5mg
– Men aged 9-13 years:- 1.9mg.
– Men aged 14-18 years:- 2.2mg.
– Men aged 19 years and over:- 2.3mg.
– Women aged 9-18 years:- 1.6mg.
– Women aged 19 years and over:- 1.8mg.
– Pregnant and lactating women:- 2mg.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN MANGANESE?
Manganese can be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Tea also contains high levels of this important nutrient. The list below contains a selection of the best manganese food sources:
– Black Tea:- 0.77mg per cup.
– Garlic:- 1.67mg per 100g.
– Green Tea:- 1.58mg per cup.
– Pineapple:- 1.18mg per 100g.
– Raspberries:- 0.67mg per 100g.
– Spinach:- 0.94mg per 100g.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH MANGANESE?
Overdosing on manganese through diet alone is very rare as extremely high levels need to be consumed. In most cases an overdose is caused by severe exposure to manganese dust. It can also be caused by chronic liver disease. Due to the potentially serious side effects of overdose the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences established tolerable upper intake levels (TULs) for manganese in 2000 which are listed below:
– Children aged 1-3 years:- 2mg.
– Children aged 4-8 years:- 3mg.
– Children aged 9-13 years:- 6mg.
– Children aged 14-18 years:- 9mg.
– Adults aged 19 years and older:- 11mg.
If manganese levels in the body do become too high it can have the following negative effects:
– Interference with copper, iron and zinc.
– Manganese madness (a syndrome characterised by hallucinations, irritability and violence).
– Nervous system problems (similar to those experienced by sufferers of Parkinson’s disease).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH MANGANESE?
Manganese deficiency is very rare. It often only occurs when manganese is deliberately eliminated from the diet and even in these instances the body can normally use magnesium as a substitute. However, when the symptoms of manganese deficiency do appear they can include:
– Bone loss.
– Extremely low blood cholesterol levels.
– Hearing loss.
– High blood glucose levels.
– Loss of hair colour.
– Skin rashes.
I hope this article has given you a better understanding of manganese. It is a highly important nutrient because it allows key enzymes in your body to work properly. So if you think you are not getting enough pour yourself a cup of tea right now and start topping up those manganese levels.
Now I want to hear from you guys. Do you think you get enough manganese? Were you aware of the many important roles it has in the body? Let me know by leaving a comment.