Manganese

Manganese:

  • Helps improve our ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by increasing the strength of cell walls.
  • May improve our immune response by increasing the production of  a particular type of lymphocyte called NK (Natural Killer) cells which destroy diseased or infected cells and play a large role in the rejection of tumours.
  • Is involved in energy production and metabolism, being an integral part in the creation of glycogen, fatty acids and cholesterol – all of which we need to stay healthy and energetic.
  • Helps strengthen bones, ligaments and collagen, helping to protect against broken bones.  Manganese also improves joint lubrication and stimulates the growth of cartilage, protecting joints from mechanical damage and arthritis.
  • Is necessary for normal brain and nervous system function
  • Helps the body to utilise Vitamin C and some of the B Complex vitamins properly.
  • Is an antioxidant, neutralising free radicals and preventing free radical damage to cells.
  • plays an important role in the functioning of the pituitary gland and the manufacture of sex hormones.  The highest levels of manganese in the human body are found in the pituitary gland.
  • Helps in the production of breast milk

Manganese is not a mineral that we often need to supplement with, as it is fairly plentiful in most diets and humans have a low requirement for it.  Throughout our entire body, most human beings have only 10 or 20 mg.

It is, however an essential trace element which means it is something that the body cannot produce for itself and needs to acquire it through food.  Despite few people being aware of the nutritional value of manganese, it does play a part in several important functions in the body.  The recommended daily intake of from dietary sources is up to 5mg, however a health professional may prescribe a therapeutic doses of between 5 and 10 mg of Manganese per day.

It is virtually impossible to overdose from manganese through dietary sources as it is contained in such low amounts in food and is poorly absorbed through the intestines.  Foods which contain appreciable quantities of manganese include nuts and whole grains especially brown rice, eggs, avocados, leafy green vegetables and surprisingly, tea, coffee and some spices.

Manganese deficiency is very rare, and sometimes other vitamins and minerals can ‘fill in’ for manganese if stores are low, but symptoms of it can include blood glucose dysregulation, reduced fertility in men and women, birth defects, weak bones or intervertebral disc problems and nervous system problems resulting in discoordination and poor reflexes, difficulty digesting fats and poor immune system.  Very severe manganese deficiency in children can lead to deafness, blindness, paralysis and poor bone growth. A long-term lack of manganese may affect your body’s ability to fight cancerous cells.

It’s thought that arthritic people and some diabetics can benefit from extra manganese in their diets or through supplements. It may also help schizophrenia and people with excessive levels of copper within their bodies.  Excess copper has been known to cause ovarian cysts, so this is something women with PCOS should be aware of, though there is of course a big difference between ovarian cysts and PCOS.  Neither one guarantees the other.

More Information:

Smialowicz RJ, Rogers RR, Riddle MM, Rowe DG, Luebke RW. “In vitro augmentation of natural killer cell activity by manganese chloride.” J Toxicol Environ Health. 1986;19(2):243-54.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2428983

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