Foods high in manganese including spinach, legumes, nuts, shellfish

manganese | source of nutrition

Manganese is a trace mineral that is necessary for our bodies in small quantities. Because we cannot achieve this, we must get it from food or supplements. Manganese is a coenzyme that helps many enzymes involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. [1] It also helps enzymes build bones and keep the immune and reproductive systems running smoothly. [2] Manganese works with vitamin K to aid wound healing by blood clotting.

Manganese is absorbed in the small intestine. Most of the minerals are stored in the bones, with smaller amounts in the liver, brain, kidneys, and pancreas. The levels of manganese in the body are difficult to measure because dietary intake does not always correlate with blood levels.

Recommended amounts

RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults over 19 years of age is 2.3 mg per day for men and 1.8 mg for women. For pregnant or breastfeeding women, the RDA is 2.0 mg and 2.6 mg, respectively.

UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of manganese for all adults over 19 years of age and pregnant and breastfeeding women is 11 mg per day; UL is the maximum daily intake that is not likely to cause adverse health effects.

manganese and health

food sources

Manganese is found in a variety of foods, from shellfish to grains, legumes, and even spices. Drinking water contains small amounts of manganese.

Signs of deficiency and toxicity


Manganese deficiency is very rare, and there are no groups of people known to be at risk of developing this deficiency. Therefore, symptoms that show deficiency have not been clearly identified. Manganese absorption may be reduced if taken with iron-rich foods, as these minerals compete for the same proteins that help with absorption in the intestine.


There are no reports of reaching toxic levels of manganese from the diet. However, there have been isolated case reports of toxicity seen in people who drank water contaminated with unusually high levels of manganese and in miners and industrial welders who inhaled excessive amounts of manganese in the dust. [2] Since iron and manganese depend on the same proteins that aid their absorption, having low iron stores (eg, anemia) can increase manganese absorption and increase toxicity if manganese is in excess.

Manganese toxicity targets the central nervous system. Symptoms include:

  • shivering
  • muscle spasms
  • Decreased hand-eye coordination
  • lack of balance
  • hearing loss
  • headache
  • Depression, mood changes

Did you know?

  • The main food sources of manganese in the American diet are tea, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Manganese is a component of an antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD), which can protect against cell damage caused by free radical molecules. SOD is an enzyme that breaks down superoxide free radicals into smaller, less harmful molecules.

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