Why We Need Manganese

Discover how this frequently overlooked mineral can boost your health

Why We Need Manganese

When you think of dietary minerals, which ones come to mind? More often than not, people tend to remember those which are commonly referred to like iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. However, there are a whole host of other trace minerals that are crucial to maintaining a healthy diet; one of which is manganese, or Mn as it is chemically known. Let’s take a closer look at this mighty mineral to find out what it does for us!

What does it do?

Manganese can be found in the liver, kidneys, pancreas and bones and is needed for numerous vital functions, as Lifesum nutritionist Frida Harju-Westman explains: “Manganese acts as an important co-enzyme, helping the body to process cholesterol, protein and carbohydrates. It’s also essential for building healthy bones, as well as forming connective tissues. Alongside this, it has been suggested that manganese may assist in the regulation of blood sugar levels and help to maintain optimum brain and nerve function.”

Are you getting the right amount?

Manganese is one of three toxic trace minerals, which means it’s important not to have too much or too little in your diet. But how can we make sure we are getting the right amount? Frida says: “Research has shown that people have around 20mg of naturally-occurring manganese in their body. Alongside this, the body also requires a small dose of manganese from our diets. Manganese deficiencies are rare, however, it’s recommended that women over the age of 19 should consume at least 1.8mg of manganese, and men around 2.3mg per day.”

For the maximum manganese intake, Dietitian Nicky Wolfe from BMI Three Shires Hospital has advised that 12.2mg a day can be consumed without any negative effects. However, if you’re older than 65, an upper limit of 8.7mg a day is recommended in order to maintain optimum brain health.

Natural sources of Mn

  • Tea (Black tea 0.5mg per cup)

    It’s good news for those who love a hot cuppa! Black tea contains the most manganese, but green tea also has enough of it to count towards around 19 per cent of your recommended intake.

  • Nuts (Hazelnuts 1.6mg per 28g)

    If you’re in need of a manganese-rich snack, then a handful of almonds and hazelnuts is a great choice. Almonds are also packed with fibre and magnesium, while hazelnuts contain unsaturated fats, calcium and vitamins B and E, making them good for your heart, bones, skin, joints and digestive system.

  • Wholegrains (Wholegrain bread 1.4mg per two slices)

    Around half the amount of manganese in grains is lost during processing, which means that it’s best to choose brown rice, bread and pasta over the refined kind in order to reap the benefits. Eating wholegrains also helps to maximise the absorption of manganese.

  • Vegetables (Spinach 0.9mg per 100g)

    Leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage and kale are all great natural sources of this mineral, and many also contain other essential nutrients such as iron, fibre, and vitamins C and K.

  • Fruit (Fresh, raw pineapple 0.9mg per 100g)

    Grapes, bananas, raspberries and pineapples are rich in manganese, and contain other essential vitamins, too. For instance, pineapple is high in vitamin C, which helps to maintain healthy skin and improve your immune system.

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All of our recipes are accredited by Juliette Kellow, registered dietitian.