Manganese - For the Growing Years - Information on Deficiency, Benefits, Food Sources

The nutritional importance of manganese was discovered in 1936-37, when A. H. Norris and his co- workers and T. P. Lyons and Insko reported the development of bony malformation in poultry fed on a manganese­free diet. Studies of L. S. Hurley and G.J. Everson and their associates in 1961 threw more light on the relationship of manganese to growth, bone development, reproduction, and the functioning of the central nervous system.

Manganese is found in the body as a trace element and is essential for life. The human body contains 10 to 20 mg of this element which is widely distributed throughout the tissues. It is found in high concentration in the mitochondria of cells.

Manganese is a hard, brittle, greyish-white metallic element. It is readily oxidized and forms an important component of certain alloys. If manganese is breathed in excess, in the form of dust or fumes, it can lead to a condition very much like Parkinson's disease wherein tremors develop in the hands and fingers.

Only three to four, percent of the manganese present in the diet is absorbed from the intestine and reaches the blood. It is stored in the blood and liver. Serum manganese levels are almost always elevated following a myocardial infarction.

Manganese is excreted in the faeces. The urine contains only traces of this element. High calcium intakes have been shown to increase the faecal excretion of manganese.

Recommended Daily Allowance - Manganese
Men 3 mg
Women 3 mg
Children 1.6 mg

Manganese Benefits - Functions in the Body

Manganese is an important component of many enzyme systems which are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In combination with choline, it helps in the digestion and utilization of fat. Manganese helps to nourish the nerves and brain and assists in the proper coordinative action between the brain, nerves and muscles in every part of the body. It is also involved in normal reproduction and the function of mammary glands.

Manganese Rich Food Sources

Nuts, whole grains, and dried legumes are excellent sources of manganese.

Manganese Deficiency Symptoms

A prolonged deficiency of manganese may cause retarded growth, digestive disorders, abnormal bone development, and deformities. It may also cause male and female sterility and sexual impotence in men. However, the human body obtains sufficient manganese through normal dietary intake, so a deficiency syndrome is rare.

Manganese Side Effects - Precautions

Toxic symptoms have been reported to occur in mine workers due to inhalation of dust from manganese ores. ,The symptoms, are blurred speech, tremors of the hands, and a spastic gait.

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