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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Manganese?

Our bodies contain only a very small amount of manganese, but this metal is important as a constituent of many key enzymes. The chemical structure of these enzymes is interesting: large protein molecules cluster around a tiny atom of metal.

Manganese plays a particularly important role as part of the natural antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which helps fight damaging free radicals. It also helps energy metabolism, thyroid function, blood sugar control, and normal skeletal growth.

Because manganese plays a role in bone metabolism, it has been suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis , a condition in which bone mass deteriorates with age. However, we have no direct evidence that manganese is helpful, except perhaps in combination with other minerals. 1 One small but rigorous study suggests that making sure to get enough manganese may help control symptoms of dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) . 2 Manganese has also been suggested for the treatment of muscle strains and sprains , rheumatoid arthritis , and tardive dyskinesia , 3 but there is no reliable evidence as yet to indicate that it actually helps.

People with epilepsy 4 or diabetes 5 have lower-than-normal levels of manganese in their blood. This suggests (but definitely doesn't prove)...

Safety Issues

Manganese is thought to be safe when taken by adults at a dose of 11 mg daily or less. The maximum safe dosage of manganese for pregnant or nursing women has also been established as 11 mg daily, or 9 mg if 18 years old or younger. 6 Very high exposure to manganese (due either to environmental pollution or manganese mining) has resulted in a serious psychiatric disorder known as "manganese madness."

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:

  • Iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, or calcium: You may need extra manganese, and vice versa.
  • Antacids: You may also need extra manganese.