The human body contains approximately ten milligrams
of manganese, most of which is found in the liver, bones, and
kidneys. This trace element is a cofactor for a number of important
enzymes, including arginase, cholinesterase, phosphoglucomutase,
pyruvate carboxylase, mitochondrial superoxide dismutase and
several phosphates, peptidases and glycosyltransferases. In
certain instances, Mn2+ may be replaced by Co2+ or Mg2+. Manganese
functions with vitamin K in the formation of prothrombin.
Inadequate manganese intake has been associated
with parenteral nutrition, resulting in dermatitis, changes
in hair pigmentation and slowed hair growth. Low cholesterol,
triglyceride and phospholipid levels were low. Significant deficiencies
have been found in epileptics.
- Normal skeletal growth and development
- Essential for glucose utilization
- Lipid synthesis and lipid metabolism
- Cholesterol metabolism
- Pancreatic function and development
- Prevention of sterility
- Important for protein and nucleic acid metabolism
- Activates enzyme functions
- Involved in thyroid hormone synthesis
Absorption and excretion:
Manganese metabolism is similar to that of iron.
It is absorbed in the small intestines and while the absorption
process is slow, the total absorption rate is exceptionally
high - about 40%. Excess manganese is excreted in bile and pancreatic
secretion. Only a small amount is excreted in the urine.
Required Daily Amount (in mg)
Infants, 0-5 months 0.5-0.7
Infants, 5-12 months 0.7-1.0
Children, 1-3 yrs. 1.0-1.5
Adults, both genders 2.5-5.0
Liver and kidneys are the primary meat source
of manganese. Wheat germ, legumes, nuts, and black tea are good
Manganese content of foods (mg/100g)
Plant foods Animal foods
Wheat germ 9 Oyster 0.6
Rolled oats 5 Liver 0.25-0.36
Wheat bran 4 Cheese 0.017-0.19
Cereals 2.4-4 Fish 0.012-0.12
Soybeans 3 Kidneys 0.06-0.11
Wheat whole grain bread 2.3 Meat 0.02-0.08
Parsley 3 Cottage cheese 0.06
Pulses 1.3-2 Turkey 0.03-0.05
Sorghum 1.9 Chicken 0.02
Rye bread 1 Whole milk 0.003
Fruit, berries 0.03-0.6s
White bread 0.6
- Hearing loss
- Weak tendons and ligaments
- Possible cause of diabetes. Medical studies
indicate that manganese deficiency impairs glucose metabolism
and reduced insulin production.
- Manganese deficiency has been linked to myasthenia
gravis. Manganese activates several enzyme systems and supports
the utilization of vitamin C, E, choline, and other B-vitamins.
Inadequate choline utilization reduces the acetylcholine synthesis,
causing conditions such as myasthenia gravis (loss of muscle
- Manganese and zinc therapy can reduce copper
levels and therefore manganese and/or zinc may be of therapeutic
value in the treatment of symptoms linked to excess copper.
Excess manganese interferes with the absorption
of dietary iron. Long-term exposure to excess levels may result
in iron-deficiency anemia. Increased manganese intake impairs
the activity of copper metallo-enzymes. Manganese overload is
generally due to industrial pollution. Workers in the manganese
processing industry are most at risk. Well water rich in manganese
can be the cause of excessive manganese intake and can increase
bacterial growth in water. Manganese poisoning has been found
among workers in the battery manufacturing industry. Symptoms
of toxicity mimic those of Parkinson's disease (tremors, stiff
muscles) and excessive manganese intake can cause hypertension
in patients older than 40. Significant rises in manganese concentrations
have been found in patients with severe hepatitis and posthepatic
cirrhosis, in dialysis patients and in patients suffering heart
Manganese influences the copper and iron metabolism
and estrogen therapy may raise serum manganese concentration,
whereas glucosteroids alter the manganese distribution in the
Significance of Blood Levels:
Mass spectroscopy levels of whole blood reliably
reflect the nutritional intake and acute industrial exposure.
Note: In the presence of high levels, dopamine levels are reduced.
Significance of Urinary Levels:
24-hr urine to evaluate excessive industrial
Significance of Hair Manganese Levels
Dark hair dyes can contain manganese and thus
falsely elevate hair levels. In the case of extremely high manganese
levels obtained from scalp hair, pubic hair should be tested
as a control. Manganese overload is generally due to industrial
pollution. Workers in the manganese processing industry are
most at risk.
- Water: EPA recommends a level of 0.05PPM
in drinking water, based upon taste rather than health.
Symptoms of increased manganese levels:
- Psychiatric illnesses
- Mental confusion
- Impaired memory
- Loss of appetite
- Mask-like facial expression and monotonous
- Spastic gait
- Neurological problems
Other manifestations include:
- Impaired thiamin (B1) metabolism
- Iron deficiency
- Increased demand for vitamin C and copper.
- Manganese toxicity can cause kidney failure,
hallucinations, as well as diseases of the central nervous
system. High hair manganese levels indicate problems with
calcium and/or iron metabolism.
Low Manganese Levels
Symptoms and side-effects of manganese deficiency
- Impaired glucose metabolism
- Diseases of the skeletal structure, and impaired
- Pancreatic dysfunction
- Elevated blood pressure
- Reduced protein metabolism
- Reduced immune function
- Selenium deficiency
- Depressed activity of mammary glands in nursing
- Mitochondrial abnormalities
Manganese deficiency has been associated with
cancer, rheumatic conditions, rickets, morning sickness, jaundice,
and diabetes. Excessive ingestion of iron, combined with hypochlorhydria,
can cause an imbalance in the Mn/Fe ratio.
A healthy person excretes approximately four
mg/day, which is the minimum daily amount that should be consumed.
Elevated calcium and/or phosphorus intake suppress the body's
ability to absorb manganese, while an increase in Vitamin C
improves cellular exchange. Drinking water should be analyzed.
Manganese poisoning can be treated successfully with chelation
Trace Minerals International of Boulder, Colorado
examined the mineral metabolism of 19 patients with alopecia.
The spectrophotometric analysis showed manganese deficiency
in all 19. Eighteen patients showed considerable problems with
calcium absorption, and twelve patients had problems with their
zinc metabolism. Specific nutritional and mineral therapy resulted
in improved hair growth after 2-3 months of treatment.
Blaurock-Busch, E. Wichtige Nahrstoffe fur Gesunde
Haut und Haare, Kosmetik Internat. 3/87.
Manganese and learning disabilities
The concentration of manganese in the hair of
normal newborn infants increased significantly from 0.19 µg/g
at birth to 0.965 µg/g at 6 weeks of age and 0.685 µg/g at 4
months when they were fed infant formula. There was an insignificant
increase to 0.330 µg/g at age 4 months in breast-fed infants.
After this age there was a slow decline in hair Mn to 0.268
µg/g in normal children at age 8 years and 0.434 in learning
disabled (hyperactive) children. This is the 3rd study reporting
elevated hair manganese in learning disabled children.
Collipp, P.J., et al. Manganese in infant formulas
and learning disability. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 27(6):488-494, 1983.
Long term parenteral nutrition has been associated
with high blood concentrations of manganese in children who
displayed symptoms of toxicity.
Fell JME et al. Manganese toxicity in children
receiving long-term parenteral nutrition. Lancet Vol 347, May
Calcium deficiency increases manganese absorption.
Murphy VA et al. Elevation of Brain Manganese
in Calcium-Deficient Rats. Neurotoxicology 1991, p 265.
6545 Gunpark Drive, Suite 240
Boulder, Colorado 80301 USA
Web site: www.tracemin.com
Blaurock-Busch E, Mineral & Trace Element
Analysis, Laboratory and Clinical Application. Tmi 1997.
Kaplan LA, Pesce AJ. Clinical Chemistry. Theory,
analysis, and correlation. 2nd ed. Mosby Co. 1989.
Thomas L. Labor & Diagnose, 4th ed Med.
Verlag Marburg 1992.
About the Author:
E. Blaurock-Busch, PhD is Laboratory Director
of Trace Minerals International of Boulder, Colorado and Co-chairman
of the International Association of Trace Elements and Cancer
Research, an international organization officially recognized
by the Chinese government. Her book, Mineral & Trace Element
Analysis, Laboratory and Clinical Application is a textbook
used at schools and universities, including Beijing University.
E. Blaurock-Busch has written numerous articles that have been
translated and published in many languages. She had several
books published in the US and Germany.