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Manganese (Mn)

What is manganese?

Manganese is an essential mineral that supports our overall well-being. It is considered a trace mineral, meaning it is only required in small amounts. Since we cannot produce manganese in our bodies, we must get this nutrient through our diet.

Why we need it

Manganese plays a role in many vital bodily processes. It is crucial for bone health, as it’s required by enzymes involved in bone formation. These include enzymes that form proteoglycan, a structural component of bone.1 These manganese-dependent enzymes are also involved in forming cartilage, a kind of tissue that protects our bones from damage.

Manganese also helps us produce energy. This is because it activates pyruvate carboxylase, an enzyme involved in generating energy from other nutrients, like sugar.1 Additionally, manganese is required by the antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase.2 This enzyme protects against oxidative stress, a phenomenon that can cause cell damage and contribute to aging and disease.

Where it’s found

Manganese is present in many foods, including whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, fruits, and seafood. Examples of manganese-rich foods include:

  • Wheat bran
  • Almonds
  • Oatmeal
  • Mussels
  • Spinach
  • Pineapple
  • Hazelnuts
  • Oysters
  • Chickpeas

Manganese can also be found in some beverages like coffee and tea. Additionally, it can be taken as a supplement. Manganese is available as a standalone supplement, and it is sometimes found in multivitamins.3

Daily requirements

There is not enough evidence to establish firm dietary recommendations (i.e., a Recommended Dietary Allowance) for manganese. Thus, an Adequate Intake (AI) is used instead. This value represents the daily amount of a nutrient that is assumed to be adequate for a healthy population. The AI for manganese is 1.2-1.5 milligrams (mg) for children aged 1-8 years, 1.9-2.2 mg for male adolescents aged 9-18 years, 1.6 mg for female adolescents aged 9-18 years, 2.3 mg for men over the age of 19, and 1.8 mg for women over the age of 19.1

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the AI increases to 2.0 mg and 2.6 mg, respectively.1

Manganese deficiency

Since manganese is so prevalent in food, deficiency is exceptionally rare.4 In fact, it has only been reported in experimental settings, where researchers induce manganese deficiency in order to study its effects. In these cases, manganese deficiency has been shown to negatively affect bone growth, blood sugar regulation, and reproductive function.4 Fortunately, manganese deficiency is not something you need to worry about!

Can you get too much manganese?

Manganese can be toxic when consumed in excessive amounts. Manganese toxicity can cause a condition known as manganism, which has symptoms very similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms include muscle tremors, difficulty walking, impaired coordination, and slurred speech.2 Manganese toxicity is often caused by conditions that interfere with the body’s ability to excrete manganese, such as liver failure.1 It can also be caused by drinking water that contains excessive amounts of manganese.4

To prevent toxicity, a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) has been established for manganese. The UL for manganese is 11 mg per day for adults.1 This value represents the maximum amount of manganese that is unlikely to cause toxicity.

Fun facts

There is some evidence suggesting that women may absorb manganese in greater amounts compared to men.5 This could be due to differences in iron status, as manganese absorption increases when iron is low.2 In other words, women may have lower iron levels than men, promoting greater manganese absorption.

Significant amounts of manganese in grains can be lost through processing. Unlike other nutrients, the manganese that is lost is not added back through enrichment. Because of this, the manganese content of whole grains is much higher than that of refined grains. For example, a slice of whole grain bread provides about 0.5 mg of manganese, while a slice of white bread provides only about 0.16 mg.6


  1. Tuschl, K., Mills, P. B., & Clayton, P. T. (2013). Manganese and the brain. International review of neurobiology, 110, 277–312.
  2. Institute of Medicine. (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. DOI: 10.17226/10026
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. (2021). Dietary Supplement Label Database.
  4. Aschner, M., & Erikson, K. (2017). Manganese. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 8(3), 520–521.
  5. Oulhote, Y., Mergler, D., & Bouchard, M. F. (2014). Sex- and age-differences in blood manganese levels in the U.S. general population: national health and nutrition examination survey 2011-2012. Environmental health : a global access science source, 13, 87.
  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2022). FoodData Central.

Dietary supplement

You can use a dietary supplement of Manganese (Mn) if you think your diet lacks this nutrient.

Use the list below to check if your diet has enough Manganese (Mn) intake.

Food high in Manganese (Mn)

This list shows food that are top sources of Manganese (Mn) and the quantity of Manganese (Mn) in 100g of food

Manganese (Mn)
21.3 mg
19.8 mg
17.5 mg
3.63 mg
2.72 mg
2.64 mg
2.38 mg
2.18 mg
2.03 mg
1.9 mg
1.6 mg
1.36 mg