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Manganese: foods sources and benefits

Siski Green / 29 July 2021

Manganese is essential in maintaining blood sugar levels. It is found in a range of foods.

Bowl of pears
Pears are a good source of manganese

Manganese is one of several trace minerals that you do need, but only in very small amounts. Your body can’t produce it, but it can be stored – in organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas and brain, as well as in your bones.

What is manganese used for?

Manganese is helpful in many important processes within the body, including maintaining hormone, cholesterol and glucose levels, and it’s also used in blood clotting and the reduction of inflammation. It’s also important in forming antioxidants, which is how it helps reduce inflammation. Some of these processes, such as blood clotting, for example, requires a combination of manganese and vitamin K. And if your body has an imbalance of calcium, for example (too much), it can inhibit the absorption of manganese.

Manganese supplements are sometimes touted as being good against diabetes and also osteoarthritis. Evidence to show that taking supplements has any effect, however, is lacking. It could be that if you are deficient, a supplement may help. Research suggests that certain medical conditions can make you more prone to manganese deficiency, including osteoarthritis, epilepsy, and diabetes.

What’s the best way to take manganese?

Your body can’t produce manganese so you need to ingest it via your diet. If you can’t get manganese via your diet, you can take a supplement of up to 11mg per day. There isn’t a specific recommended daily amount of manganese, but if you get 1.8mg as a woman and 2.3mg as a man, that’s considered sufficient.

Foods that contain manganese include pineapple, raisins, nuts, legumes (chickpeas, beans etc), seeds, tea, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.

If you do decide to take a supplement, look for chelated manganese which is more easily absorbed by the body, and take it with a glass of water.

Does manganese really work?

Deficiency isn’t common but symptoms may include low blood sugar and poor bone and cartilage health. If your GP confirms that you have low levels, then a supplement should help ease your symptoms. If, however, you are not deficient, taking a supplement is unlikely to show much benefit.

Where can I get manganese?

Manganese supplements are available online, in healthfood shops and supermarkets.

What are the side effects of taking manganese?

There are no significant side effects if a mineral supplement is taken.

Are there any contraindications when taking manganese?

If you have been diagnosed with an allergy or have kidney disorders check with your GP. Also talk to your GP if you are taking medications for diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics.

Need to talk to a GP from the comfort of your own home? Saga Health Insurance customers can talk to a qualified, practising UK GP 24 hours a day by phone. Find out more about our GP service.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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