Although it is technically considered to be one of the trace minerals, dietary minerals only needed in very small amounts for health, manganese is still one of the more essential minerals where the body is concerned. This is because manganese helps to carry out several important functions including the ability to help heal wounds and help bones form properly. In addition, it's an integral part of the metabolism process. Manganese also acts as an antioxidant.
Actually, one of the most important roles manganese plays in health is that of an antioxidant.
Antioxidants are substances which are necessary to combat the potentially damaging effects of free radicals. In particular, manganese helps mitochondria reduce levels of oxidative stress that is frequently associated with the mitochondria's huge consumption of oxygen.
As for the skeletal system, manganese is needed by certain enzymes that are involved in the formation of cartilage and bones. Without an adequate supply of manganese, the overall health of these two crucial components of the skeletal system would be severely jeopardized.
Several important enzymes are activated by manganese. These enzymes are important players in the process of metabolizing cholesterol, carbohydrates and amino acids.
The human body has an amazing ability to heal wounds. This ability involves a number of different enzymes and amino acids. Specifically, in this regard, manganese is involved in the production of collagen, a key healing agent. The body must produce an even greater supply of collagen than is normally needed when the skin is damaged, which is when manganese becomes more important than ever.
Manganese helps the body use several important vitamins, among them vitamin B1, Biotin, also known as Vitamin H, and Vitamin C. The body also makes use of manganese in the production of breast milk, fat and several of the sex hormones.
Sources of the Dietary Mineral Manganese
Adequate supplies of manganese are easily achieved by consuming a diet rich in leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Pecans, almonds, peanuts, brown rice, whole wheat bread, pinto, lima and navy beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, eggs and pineapple are all excellent sources as well. While tea, both green and black, is also a good source, be aware that the tannins present in tea can possibly impair the body's ability to fully absorb manganese.
As with most trace minerals, there is no established recommended daily allowance for manganese.
Even so, there is still a recommendation of 1.0 mg/day for this dietary mineral. While it is true that the body does not easily absorb manganese, it is also true that only very small amounts are needed to carry out the functions mentioned above. Again, a nutritionally-balanced diet normally will provide a person with an adequate supply of this vital dietary mineral. This is why vegetarians rarely suffer from such a deficiency.
Symptoms of Manganese Deficiency
While it is true that to date there is no established recommended daily allowance for this mineral, a deficiency of manganese can result in several adverse health conditions. Among these are a disruption in normal growth patterns, reproductive problems, abnormal growth and development of the skeletal system, diminished ability to tolerate glucose and problems involving metabolism.
A manganese deficiency can cause painful joints and memory loss. It can cause problems with the disks located in between the vertebrae. High blood sugar is another potentially dangerous situation. Over time, a manganese deficiency may lead to osteoporosis or diabetes.
If you try, you can find a manganese supplement, but, there is probably no real reason to use one. After all, this dietary mineral is readily available form a good diet and is only needed in small quantities. If you are not sure you are getting enough manganese, just get the best daily multivitamin you can and take it. It will probably have manganese as one of its ingredients. Don't forget to check the label to make sure it does contain manganese.