Manganese: The Powerful Antioxidant Mineral

manganese rich foods

Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral which is required by our bodies in very small amounts. Most of the manganese in our body is concentrated in our kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones. It is very important for the normal functioning of the brain and the proper activity of the nervous system. Here we highlight the role of manganese in our body, its deficiencies and food sources. Read on!

Why is Manganese Important for Us?

Here is a list of the most significant health benefits of manganese:

Prevents Diseases

Manganese is a crucial component of manganese superoxide dismutase enzyme in our body which is a powerful antioxidant that seeks out the free radicals in the human body. As a result, it neutralizes these damaging particles, thereby preventing oxidative damage. Oxidative damage (caused by free radicals) are capable of damaging human cells and causing cancer.

Boosts Metabolism

Regulation of the body’s metabolism is one of the vital functions of manganese. Manganese-activated enzymes help in the metabolism of cholesterol, amino acids, and carbohydrates. Additionally, it is also important for the metabolism of vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin B1. Furthermore, it helps the liver function properly and efficiently.

Read more about B vitamins here!

Allows healing and cell proliferation

Manganese is a crucial component of the enzyme DNA polymerase. DNA polymerase is primarily responsible for DNA replication inside our cells. DNA replication is our cell’s process of duplicating its DNA content. Our body is able to replace old cells with new cells in response to stress, damage, injury, growth and ageing since it is able to duplicate its DNA content and transport it to nascent cells. Therefore, without manganese DNA polymerase wouldn’t be able to function and our body wouldn’t be able to heal or grow.

Controls Diabetes

Manganese has also exhibited efficiency in controlling the level of sugar in the human blood. This may further prevent the occurrence of certain diseases like diabetes.

diabetes blood sugar

To control the level of sugar in the blood, manganese normalizes insulin synthesis and secretion, thus regulating unpredictable drops in blood sugar better. As a result, this provides a more normal and functional life for diabetics.

Read how you can manage diabetes here!

Manganese Deficiency Symptoms

Manganese deficiency is usually caused by a lack of manganese-rich foods in the diet and sometimes also by chronic digestive disorders that make it hard to absorb manganese. In some cases, calcium and iron can interfere with the absorption and utilization of manganese by the body.

The symptoms of manganese deficiency include:

    • High blood pressure
    • Heart ailments
    • Muscular contraction
    • Bone malformation
    • High cholesterol
    • Poor eyesight
    • Hearing trouble
    • Severe memory loss
    • Shivers and
    • Tremors

Eye problems, sweating, fast heartbeats, weakness, and severe cramps are also some symptoms of manganese deficiency. Severe deficiency may cause pancreatic damage, infertility in women, heart problems and osteoporosis.

Can Excess Manganese be Unhealthy as Well?

Manganese is one of the only three toxic trace minerals in the human body, which means that we cannot have too little or too much. Inhaled manganese toxicity is an occupational hazard for some workers. This is especially true for welders and smelters who are exposed to dust or aerosols that contain manganese. Inhaled manganese can cause inflammation of the lungs. Symptoms may include cough and bronchitis. People have also experienced a toxic effect of manganese when levels in drinking water are too high.

Manganese overdose can lead to similar symptoms to that of Parkinson’s disease, or the disease itself. People with liver conditions should avoid excess manganese consumption. Excess manganese can also lead to psychosis, mental disorders, and tremors/spasms. Additionally, if you have anaemia, monitor your intake closely as your body absorbs as much manganese as possible in such cases which can be dangerous.

How to Include Manganese in Your Diet?

Some sources of manganese are raspberries, pineapple, garlic, grapes, beetroot, green beans, rice, peppermint, oats,  nuts,  watercress,  mustard greens,  strawberries,  blackberries, tropical fruits, lettuce, spinach, molasses, cloves, turmeric, chickpeas, tofu, whole wheat, bananas, cucumbers, kiwis, figs, and carrots.

Food sources like green vegetables, brown rice, coconut, almond, and hazelnut maximize the absorption of manganese by your body.

Some popular manganese-rich dishes are gajar (carrot) ka halwa, spinach soup, palak (spinach) paneer, palak paratha, chole, sarson (mustard leaves) ka saag, green bean stir-fry, coconut rice and many more. 

Daily Recommendation 
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Manganese is 2.3 mg for an adult male and 1.8 mg for an adult female. The daily intake of pregnant and lactating women is also the same.

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