Manganese Deficiency: What You Need to Know
Manganese is a naturally occurring element and an essential mineral nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health. While it’s essential, it’s important to note that excessive levels of manganese can be harmful. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of manganese, its functions in the body, and what a deficiency means.
The Role of Manganese
Manganese serves several vital functions in your body:
- Metabolism: Manganese is a key component of various enzymes that facilitate the processing of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. These enzymes are essential for overall metabolic health.
- Antioxidant Properties: Manganese-containing enzymes act as powerful antioxidants, protecting your cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals. This detoxification process is crucial for maintaining cellular health.
- Bone Health and Development: Enzymes that contain manganese contribute to the formation of bone and cartilage, making manganese vital for bone health.
- Wound Healing: Manganese is a part of an enzyme that aids in the production of collagen, an essential protein for skin cell regeneration. This is crucial for efficient wound healing.
Recognizing Manganese Deficiency
Manganese deficiency is relatively rare because many foods in our daily diets naturally contain manganese. However, individuals with a deficiency may experience the following symptoms:
- Poor bone growth or skeletal defects
- Slow or impaired growth
- Low fertility
- Impaired glucose tolerance (a state between normal glucose maintenance and diabetes)
- Abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
While dietary deficiencies are uncommon in healthy individuals, certain medical conditions can increase the risk of lower-than-ideal manganese levels. These conditions include epilepsy, osteoporosis, diabetes, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, hemodialysis, Perthes disease, and phenylketonuria.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A simple blood test can determine your manganese levels. The normal reference range for manganese in adults is between 4.7 and 18.3 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
If you’re diagnosed with a manganese deficiency, your doctor will likely prescribe manganese supplementation and recommend increasing your intake of manganese-rich foods. The recommended daily intake for manganese is 2.3 milligrams per day for adult men and 1.8 milligrams per day for adult women.
While the effects of manganese deficiency in humans are not extensively studied, it has been observed that manganese deficiency in animals can lead to skeletal defects, including curved spines, shorter and thicker limbs, and enlarged joints. Pregnant animals with manganese deficiency have given birth to offspring with coordination and stability issues.
Balancing Manganese Intake
To maintain a healthy level of manganese, include foods rich in manganese in your diet, such as:
- Nuts (e.g., almonds and pecans)
- Beans and legumes (e.g., lima and pinto beans)
- Oatmeal and bran cereals
- Whole wheat bread
- Brown rice
- Leafy green vegetables (e.g., spinach)
- Fruits (e.g., pineapple and acai)
- Dark chocolate
It’s important to note that excessive manganese intake can be toxic, especially through inhalation in certain occupational settings or high levels in drinking water. This toxicity can lead to lung inflammation, cough, bronchitis, and neurotoxic effects, including psychological disturbances and reduced motor function.
In conclusion, while manganese is essential for various bodily functions, maintaining a balanced intake is key to good health. If you suspect a manganese deficiency or have underlying health conditions, consult your doctor for guidance and appropriate treatment.