Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral that is present in tiny amounts in the body. It is found mostly in bones, the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function.

Manganese is a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which helps fight free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in the body but can damage cell membranes and DNA. They may play a role in aging, as well as the development of a number of health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants, such as SOD, can help neutralize free radicals and reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Low levels of manganese in the body can contribute to infertility, bone malformation, weakness, and seizures. It is fairly easy to get enough manganese in your diet -- this nutrient is found in whole grains, nuts, and seeds -- but some experts estimate that as many as 37% of Americans do not get the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of manganese in their diet. The American diet tends to contain more refined grains than whole grains, and refined grains only provide half the amount of manganese as whole grains.

However, too much manganese in the diet could lead to high levels of manganese in the body tissues. Abnormal concentrations of manganese in the brain, especially in the basal ganglia, are associated with neurological disorders similar to Parkinson's disease. Early life manganese exposure at high levels, or low levels, may impact neurodevelopment. Elevated manganese is also associated with poor cognitive performance in school children.

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Review Date: 5/31/2013  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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