Manganese is a micronutrient that we do not know much about. But manganese, which has antioxidant, free-radical-fighting properties, is important for proper food digestion and for normal bone structure .
Manganese is a trace mineral that helps the body convert protein and fat to energy. It also promotes normal bone growth, helps maintain healthy reproductive, nervous, and immune systems, and is involved in blood sugar regulation. In addition, manganese is involved in blood clotting and the formation of cartilage and lubricating fluid in the joints. Manganese is found in large quantities in plants and animals, but very little of this element is found in human tissue. In fact, the importance of manganese to good health wasn’t realized until the 1970s, when the first manganese deficiency was recorded.
Although researchers today are still studying this mineral, they know it has antioxidant properties and is needed to activate a number of enzymes that allow the body to digest food. Manganese helps the body absorb vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin E and works with all B-complex vitamins to combat depression, anxiety, and other nervous disorders.
Manganese is predominantly stored in the bones, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It is not yet known exactly how magnesium in absorbed in the body, although its availability seems to be tied in some way to iron absorption; increased amounts of iron in the diet usually coincide with decreased manganese levels. This is probably why men, who usually have higher iron levels than women, generally absorb less manganese. Taking magnesium supplements has also been shown to inhibit manganese absorption.
Manganese is also linked to decreased super oxide dismutase (SOD) activity in white blood cells, which leaves the body more vulnerable to the damaging effects of free radicals.
Manganese not only increases the effectiveness of vitamin E and B vitamins, but supplements have been shown to increase the effectiveness of glucosamine supplements, which have been helpful to some people suffering from arthritis.
Sources of manganese
Good natural sources of manganese include avocados, nuts and seeds, seaweed, tea, raisins, pineapple, spinach, broccoli, oranges, beans, whole grains, blueberries, egg yolks, dried peas, and green leafy vegetables.
Many herbs also contain manganese, such as alfalfa, burdock root, chamomile, dandelion, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, parsley, peppermint, wild yam, and raspberry.
Benefits of manganese
Manganese can help reduce fatigue levels, prevent the incidence and severity of osteoporosis, and even improve memory.
It exerts a similar but less pronounced effect like copper in the synthesis of hemoglobin. Some workers believe that hypo chromic anemia is best treated by a combination of Fe, Cu and Mn.
It has some role in normal reproductive physiology.
Manganese has been reported to reduce heavy menstrual flows and improve thyroid function (thyroid function is dependent on a balance of manganese and iodine, and a shortage of either could cause hypothyroidism).
Mn ions activate many enzymes viz. arginase, phosphoglucomutase, muscle adenosine triphosphate, choline esterase, hexokinase etc.
The trace mineral manganese functions primarily as a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD prevents the damaging effects of the super oxide free radical from destroying cellular components.
Manganese is a popular remedy for strains, sprains and inflammation due to its ability to increase the level or activity of SOD thus increasing antioxidant activity. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions have an increased need for manganese.
Manganese plays an important role in cerebral function because it is an essential metal for glucose utilisation within the brain and in neurotransmitter control.
Deficiency symptoms of manganese
Manganese deficiency had been linked to infertility, bone malformation, weakness, seizures, atherosclerosis, confusion, convulsions, eye problems, hearing problems, heart disorders, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, irritability, memory loss, muscle contractions, pancreatic damage, profuse perspiration, rapid pulse, tooth grinding, tremors, and osteoporosis.
Low levels of manganese have been observed in epileptic patients. Those with the lowest levels of manganese have been found to exhibit the highest seizure activity.
There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for manganese, but 2.5 to 5.0 milligrams is safe and recommended for all those 11 years and older.
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