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Other name(s)

Manganese citrate, manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate

General description

Manganese is an element. It’s referred to as a mineral. Manganese is concentrated in the mitochondria of cells. Most of it is found in the bone, liver, pancreas, and kidney cells. The lower your levels manganese, the more efficiently your body absorbs it.

Manganese is important for normal growth and development. But manganese needs are easily met through diet. It’s abundant in plants and grains.

Manganese is a structural component of several enzymes. It also helps activate other enzymes. One important enzyme is manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). This enzyme helps maintain mitochondrial and cell membranes. It does this by scavenging free radicals that can damage the fats (lipids) in the membrane.

Medically valid uses

Normal levels of manganese in the bloodstream are needed normal growth and development. The enzyme MnSOD also acts as a powerful antioxidant. It does this by getting rid of free radicals that damage cell membranes.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through studies.

Manganese may help maintain normal bone density in post-menopausal women. This may decrease the risk for osteoporosis. It may also aid in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that people with epilepsy often have low levels of manganese in their bodies. Manganese deficiency in rats has been linked to an increase in convulsions. These are similar to those in epilepsy.

Manganese may also play a role in glucose tolerance. This means it may help people with diabetes.

Research is looking if manganese can prevent some types of cancer. There may also be a link between manganese and schizophrenia and other similar issues.

Recommended intake

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) set for manganese. The daily Adequate Intakes (AIs) are listed below:

Age group

AI (mg/day)

Infants (0–6 months)

0.003 mg (3 mcg)

Infants (7–12 months)

0.6 mg

Children (1–3 years)

1.2 mg

Children (4–8 years)

1.5 mg

Males (9–13 years)

1.9 mg

Males (14–18 years)

2.2 mg

Females  (9–18 years)

1.6 mg

Males (19 years and older)

2.3 mg

Females (19 years and older)

1.8 mg

Pregnant women

2 mg

Lactating women

2.6 mg

Manganese is available as an individual supplement. It also comes as part of some multivitamins. Manganese supplements are available as manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate, or manganese citrate. Manganese gluconate may be less likely to bother your stomach.

The best sources of manganese include whole grains and cereals, nuts and seeds, leafy vegetables, avocados, and seaweed. The manganese content of some foods is listed below:


Manganese content

Wheat germ (1/4 cup)

8.86 mg

Rye flour (dark, 1 cup)

8.61 mg

Whole wheat flour (1 cup)

4.56 mg

Seaweed (agar, dried, 3.5 oz)

4.30 mg

Pecans (dried, 1 oz/ 31 nuts)

1.28 mg

Spinach (boiled, cup)

0.84 mg

Avocado (1 medium)

0.42 mg

People don’t get manganese deficiency unless they have intentionally omitted the mineral from their diets. Manganese is abundant in plants. This easily meets the body’s low need for manganese. In fact, manganese is absorbed better when intake of manganese is low.

Symptoms of manganese deficiency are hard to spot. They may include slowed growth (in young humans and animals) and bone problems (in animals). They may also include abnormal glucose levels, changes in glucose tolerance, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Other symptoms may include a change in hair or beard color.

In animals, manganese deficiency leads to reproductive issues. It also leads to abnormal muscle coordination in infant offspring, skeletal and cartilage issues, and impaired glucose tolerance.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

If you take too much manganese, you could have side effects. These can include loss of appetite, depressed growth, and reproductive issues. It may also cause anemia. This is because manganese competes with iron for absorption.

People who receive total parenteral nutrition (TPN or intravenous feeding) can have serious side effects from oral manganese supplements. People with liver problems can, too. These effects include:

  • Hyperirritability

  • Impaired motor skills

  • Psychiatric issues

  • Irreversible nerve damage. Symptoms may look like Parkinson's disease.

People with liver issues shouldn’t take manganese supplements.

Manganese is toxic when you inhale manganese oxide from dust or fumes.

Well water can be contaminated with manganese.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any supplements.

Manganese competes with iron for absorption. Its absorption can also be decreased by fiber, phytates, oxalic acid, calcium, and phosphorus. It isn’t known if zinc and copper absorption is decreased by manganese.

Online Medical Reviewer: Poulson, Brittany, RD, CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016