Manganese is a trace mineral that plays a role in activating enzymes and making carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. It also helps keep your bones and joints healthy. It also acts as an antioxidant because it is part of one of the most powerful antioxidants in our body: Superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Too Much Manganese
The good news is that manganese deficiencies are rare. We only need a very small amount of manganese and we can usually get this from the foods we eat. However, having too much manganese can lead to symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s disease. It does not mean you will develop the disease but may exhibit symptoms similar to that of those who have Parkinson’s.
Sources of Excessive Manganese
Manganese is a naturally occurring element in ground water and soil. Some places tend to have higher concentrations of manganese than others. Most people who get too much manganese may get it from drinking too much well water. One study showed that there could be a link between lower IQ scores in children living in areas where there are higher concentrations of manganese. More studies need to be done to confirm this however. There are filters available for people who may be drinking well water that’s high in manganese.
Another possible source of excessive manganese is soy based infant formula. Soy based formulas can have very high concentrations of manganese since soy plants have a tendency to absorb it from the soil and hang onto it. This allows manganese to become more concentrated in the plant and soybeans. Mothers who use soy formula should breastfeed their child, which is the best method for getting an infant the proper nutrients. If this is not an option, consider switching out to another type of formula.
Manganese does not have an established recommended daily allowance (RDA). Instead, the amounts are given as adequate intakes (AI), which are considered to be safe amounts, by the Institute of Medicine.
Adequate Intakes (AI) for Manganese
|1 – 3 Years||1.2 mg||1.2 mg||2 mg|
|4 – 8 Years||1.5 mg||1.5 mg||3 mg|
|9 – 13 Years||1.9 mg||1.6 mg||6 mg|
|14 – 18 Years||2.2 mg||1.6 mg||2 mg||2.6 mg||9 mg (11 mg if pregnant or lactating)|
|18+ Years||2.3 mg||1.8 mg||2 mg||2.6 mg||9 mg (11 mg if pregnant or lactating)|
Foods High in Manganese
Camellia sinensis teas (black, green, white and oolong teas) are a wonderful source of manganese, an 8-ounce cup of black tea contains about 0.5 mg of manganese. This is about 25% of the daily intake for an adult.
Specifically Cloves, Ginger, Cardamom and Saffron. These spices also have about 0.5 mg of manganese per teaspoon. Since we don’t eat spices alone, try adding some Ginger, Cardamom and Cloves to water when making some tea. This will give your tea a big boost of manganese.
One ounce of wheat germ can have up to 3.5 mg of manganese, which will supply much more than 100% of your daily need.
Since manganese is a trace mineral, you do not need to take supplements unless directed to do so by a licensed health care practitioner.
- Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies. Located at http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/New%20Material/2_%20RDA%20and%20AI%20Values_Vitamin%20and%20Elements.pdf