Manganese, abbreviated as Mn, is a vital mineral crucial for the normal functioning of the body. It is a constituent of metalloenzymes, such as phosphoenolpyruvate decarboxylase, arginase and glutamine synthetase. This mineral plays a major role in activating the enzymes of the body, which are important for metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids and cholesterol. In fact, manganese uses in the body are concentrated in stimulating the enzyme system. An essential toxic trace mineral, too much of manganese or lack of the same element are associated with several medical problems.

An Overview of Manganese Deficiency

Not many of us are aware about the role of manganese mineral for enzyme activation. Total amount of manganese present in an adult's body accounts to about 15 - 20 mg. Of all the body parts, bones contain the highest amount of manganese. This mineral is also found in the pituitary glands, adrenal glands, liver, pancreas and kidney. Knowing the daily recommended allowance (RDA) of manganese can obviously help and individual to avoid a bodily deficiency of the mineral. An adult requires about 2.3 mg or slightly more manganese on a daily basis. Large portion of this daily requirement comes from the diet. The following points explain briefly about deficiency of manganese.

A major risk factor for this nutrient deficiency is poor dietary intake. While grains and pulses are good sources of manganese, maximum amount of this essential element is lost during food processing. It is observed that manganese is excreted in significant amounts during sweating. Considering this, another causal factor for manganese insufficiency is excessive perspiration. To keep it in a balanced state, the excreted amount should be replenished through diet. In addition to poor diet and sweating, excess intake of other minerals (calcium, magnesium and iron) is also linked to low absorption rate of manganese.

Lack of manganese is associated with various medical conditions. It is understandable from the fact that this essential mineral is involved in the functioning of the enzyme system. Manganese is indirectly responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. And a drop in this mineral level is a key factor in causing poor glucose tolerance. Since it activates the enzymes for bone formation, lack of manganese results in osteoporosis and alike skeletal problems. Insufficient amount of this mineral reduces collagen production and lengthens wound healing period. Other clinical signs of manganese deficiency are listed below:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Change in hair color
  • Slow hair growth
  • Skin rashes and dermatitis
  • Pancreatic dysfunction
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Hearing problems
  • Reduced cholesterol level
  • Mitochondrial abnormalities
  • Selenium deficiency
  • Infertility
Consuming manganese rich foods is the safest approach for addressing this nutrient deficiency. It is present in high percentage in leafy vegetables, whole grains, kidney beans, soybeans, pulses, nuts, eggs and oysters. If the patient is not showing good responses to dietary modification treatment, the doctor may recommend nutritional supplements containing this mineral. They are formulated with any of these ingredients - amino acid, gluconic acid, picolinate, chloride and sulfate.

Taking Manganese Supplements
One word of caution regarding intake of manganese supplements is, they should be taken under the strict medical guidance of a physician. While manganese benefits the body in several ways, it is an essential toxic trace mineral, meaning high intake of this mineral causes toxicity symptoms. Excess consumption of the same is accompanied with negative effects, which are collectively called manganese madness. The symptoms include hallucination, irritability and alike nerve problems. In most cases, toxicity is reported in people who are exposed to manganese dust for an extended time.

In a nutshell, medical conditions related to manganese deficiency are seldom manifested outwardly. This is mainly because of the fact that manganese element is found in several food items. Also, when the body has low manganese, magnesium and cobalt replace it for activating some enzymes. People who are at a risk of developing this mineral insufficiency condition should remember that incorporating manganese rich foods in the regular diet plan is a simple way to derive the required amount of this essential mineral.