Manganese is an important trace mineral needed for many vital functions, including nutrient absorption, production of digestive enzymes, bone development and immune-system defenses.
This essential nutrient works closely with other minerals, including iron. It has an important role in the synthesis of nutrients like cholesterol, carbohydrates and proteins.
It’s also involved in the formation of bone mass and helps balance hormones.
You’ll find manganese in foods including sprouted grains, legumes, beans, certain nuts and seeds. To some extent, it’s also found in fruits and vegetables, although whole grains are usually considered the best natural source.
Wherever it is found, iron (which helps create hemoglobin and carry oxygen throughout the body) is usually also present.
What does manganese do to the body? Found mostly in bones, the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, it has roles in:
forming connective tissue and bones
facilitating blood clotting
sex hormone and neurotransmitter synthesis
Here are some of the ways that it helps support general health:
1. Supports Bone Health and Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Manganese, in combination with other minerals, including calcium, zinc and copper, helps support bone health and reduces bone loss, especially in older/postmenopausal women who are more susceptible to bone fractures and weak bones.
Manganese deficiency also poses a risk for bone-related disorders, since this mineral helps with the formation of bone regulatory hormones and enzymes involved in bone metabolism. It also balances levels of calcium — helping to fight calcium deficiency — and phosphorus, all of which work together to promote skeletal health.
According to studies, taking manganese along with other bone-supporting nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, copper and boron can improve bone mass in women with weak bones and prevent bone spinal loss, which is useful to naturally fight osteoporosis.
2. Needed for Antioxidant and Enzyme Function
It’s also a co-factor that is used to make important enzymes, including arginase and glutamine synthetase.
These work as antioxidants in the body, helping fight free radical damage and lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, all of which can lead to issues such as heart disease or cancer. This is why one reason why scientists now believe that manganese deficiency may be tied to higher risk for:
type 2 diabetes
Manganese-deficient animals have been shown to have low manganese superoxide dismutase function. This can be harmful because this is one of the major free radical damage-fighting enzymes in the body.
In fact, superoxi