Manganese is a trace mineral and plays a role in activating numerous enzymes. Manganese aids in the utilization of choline and is an activator of enzymes that are necessary for utilization of biotin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid. Manganese is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. It also plays a part in protein, carbohydrate, and fat production; is necessary for normal skeletal development; and may be important for the formation of blood. Manganese is important for the production of milk and the formation of urea, a part of the urine. It helps maintain sex-hormone production. Manganese also helps nourish the nerves and brain. It is essential for the formation of thyroxin, a constituent of the thyroid gland.
Whole-grain cereals, egg yolks, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables are among the better sources of manganese, but the content will vary depending upon the amount present in the soil. A good portion of manganese is lost in the processing and milling of foods.
Manganese is absorbed while in the small intestinal tract. Normally people excrete about 4 milligrams of manganese each day. This amount needs to be replaced.
Large intakes of calcium and phosphorus in the diet will depress the rate of absorption. Excretion of manganese occurs via the feces, much of it in the form of choline complex in the bile.
The adult body contains only 10 to 20 milligrams of manganese. The highest concentrations of it are in the kidney, bones, liver, pancreas, and pituitary gland.
The National Research Council sets the adequate dietary intake at 2.5 to 5 milligrams for adults. The average daily diet contains approximately 4 milligrams.
A high calcium and phosphorus intake will increase the need for manganese. Very high dosages of manganese result in reduced storage and utilization of iron.
Industrial workers frequently exposed to manganese dust may absorb enough of the metal in the respiratory tract to develop toxic symptoms. Weakness, psychological and motor difficulties, irritability, and impotency can result from high tissue levels of manganese.
Manganese given to older schizophrenic patients to lower copper levels sometimes results in a rise in blood pressure. Giving zinc alone will normalize the blood pressure. L-Dopa has been used in treating manganese toxicity.
Deficiency Effects and Symptoms
A deficiency of manganese can affect glucose tolerance, resulting in the inability to remove excess sugar from the blood by oxidation and/or storage, causing diabetes. Low manganese levels may cause atherosclerosis and be a factor in triggering seizures in some epileptics. Tardive dyskinesia, a neuromuscular disease, requires additional manganese along with B vitamins. Ataxia, the failure of muscular coordination, has been linked with the inadequate intake of manganese. Deficiencies may also lead to paralysis, convulsion, blindness, and deafness in infants. Dizziness, ear noises, and loss of hearing may occur in adults.
Beneficial Effect on Ailments
Manganese has been beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. When combined with the B vitamins, manganese has helped children and adults who are suffering from devastating weakness by stimulating the transmission of impulses between nerve and muscle. Manganese also helps treat myasthenia gravis (failure of muscular coordination and loss of muscle strength). Research suggests that manganese may play a role in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Many schizophrenics have high copper levels. Manganese, like zinc, is effective in increasing copper excretion from the body.