Found in a wide variety of vitamin supplements, as well as in some of the foods we eat every day, manganese is yet another nutrient that plays a role in helping to keep us healthy.

What Is It?

Manganese is an element that, in terms of what we need to be healthy, is referred to as a trace mineral. Trace minerals are those that are needed by the body to accomplish important functions, but only in small amounts.

What Is Its Biological Role?

Manganese [1] makes up part of several enzymes that function in the body as antioxidants. Antioxidants work in our bodies on the cellular level to help prevent and repair damage caused by other compounds that we collectively term free radicals.

Researchers are not yet sure exactly how this next process work, but manganese has also been proven to help regulate blood glucose levels; possibly by preventing some of what we ingest from being broken down into glucose. This plays an important role in helping to protect us from developing diabetes.

Manganese is also used as a natural treatment for arthritis and osteoporosis. It seems to have a synergistic effect on other supplements typically taken to promote bone density, making them more effective. Pain related to arthritis and PMS is also lessened with manganese.

Other ways manganese helps us are small roles in hormone regulation that can help prevent infertility, assist in weight loss, wound healing, iron absorption, lung health, cognitive function, and more.

How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?

While everyone needs manganese to remain healthy and feel their best, certain groups of people may need more manganese based on their lifestyle. This would apply to bodybuilders and anyone else who consume lots of protein, as a high protein diet can increase your body’s need for manganese.

However, it is also important to remember that the reasonable upper limit of manganese consumption, 10mg per day, applies to everyone. If you think you would benefit from more manganese, increasing your consumption may prove beneficial in avoiding muscle sprains and strains as long as you do not pass that upper limit and consult with your doctor beforehand.

What Foods Contain It?

Manganese is primarily found in whole grains, nuts and seeds. Some hearty dietary sources of manganese are:  rye, brown rice, amaranth, hazelnuts, adzuki beans, chickpeas, macadamia nuts, white beans, oats, black beans, and buckwheat.

How Much Of It Do You Need?

The USDA has not released a recommended daily amount of manganese. Rather, there is what is called an adequate intake. Adequate intake is different than an RDV [2] because it is considered an established minimum consumption rather than a limit. It is recommended that most people consume at least their adequate intake level, but do not exceed 10mg per day in order to avoid high levels of manganese in the body.

Adequate intake recommendations start at 3mcg per day for infants, and gradually increase as we age. For adults aged 19 years and older, the established adequate intake is 2.3mg for men and 1.9mg for women. In the case of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding the adequate intake rises to 2mg and 2.6 mg, respectively.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

Most people will not have to worry about consuming too much manganese [3] from their food; however, manganese toxicity is possible if you consume significantly more than 10mg per day.

Typically this high of a dosage is reached from supplements rather than food. For example, glucosamine-chondroitin supplements that are advocated for the prevention of osteoporosis frequently contain high levels of manganese. These supplements can sometimes cause toxic levels of manganese, which produce symptoms such as compromised liver function, dizziness, shaking, changes in mood or behavior, and more.

If you consistently consume too much manganese this can lead to serious health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. To avoid this, be sure to carefully read the labels of any supplements you take and avoid consuming too much manganese from these and other dietary sources on a regular basis.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

Manganese deficiencies are relatively rare, with the exception of people who cannot properly absorb it and those who experience protracted periods of malnourishment. This is because the body is very good at regulating its manganese levels by alternately storing and excreting excesses to maintain a constant level within the body.

This means that minor, isolated deficiencies in consumption do not usually impact the body’s manganese levels. Symptoms of a deficiency include: hormonal imbalance, fatigue, anemia, osteoporosis, and a weakened immune system.

Maintaining a healthy diet will ensure that you get enough manganese, and allow you to remain healthy and feel like your best self. Most researchers say it isn’t overly important whether you get your manganese from food or supplements, as long as you stay in that goal range between your adequate intake and upper limits.


[1] University Of Maryland. Manganese. University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013.

[2] WebMD. Manganese: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings., 2016

[3] Linus Pauling Institute. Manganese. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, 2010.