Manganese is an essential mineral that is commonly used in steel and iron production but was also originally used in batteries. It is also crucial to human health due to its role in bone formation as well as carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism. It also has a close relationship with exercise.
Manganese is a metal that is mined, most commonly from the crust of the Earth. Some of the biggest exporting countries are South Africa, Australia and Brazil. Our bodies contain around 12mg of Manganese which can be found in our bones, liver and kidneys. Good sources of Manganese are usually plant based including spices, wheat, rice and oat bran, pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds as well as nuts, shellfish and soybeans.
The mineral Manganese is essential in the structure and functions of several body enzymes including the arginase enzyme, which is responsible for getting rid of the potential harmful compound ammonia. It is also extremely important for the structure of Manganese Superoxide Dismutase, which is an enzyme which is extremely important antioxidant in the body. Because they contain strong anti-inflammatory activity, they have been examined for treatment in inflammatory diseases such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
There have been no studies looking at ergogenic effects of Manganese supplementation, however, there is evidence to show that exercise results in increased levels of Manganese Superoxide Dismutase which has a cardioprotective effect. So, whilst supplementing with Manganese may not offer extra benefits, bodybuilding itself can help make the most of the Manganese you have in the body.
Overexposure with Manganese, as with all metals can be especially toxic. Whilst not as toxic as nickel and copper, increase Manganese consumption and inhalation can result in a variety of serious negative side effects including dysfunction of the central nervous system and an increase in the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Because waterborne Manganese is more bioavailable than dietary sources, levels of Manganese in the water are carefully monitored, however in less developed countries or in places with an unmonitored water source, there is often a high risk of Manganese toxicity.
There are no recommended intakes for Manganese, however based on average Australian dietary data, it appears that 5.5mg for men and 5mg for women is an adequate intake. That is, this amount is the average that people consume and also appear to be in good health. Ideally this amount should come from foods and water rather than supplements due to the greater concern for toxicity over deficiency.
Manganese can most often be found in joint support supplements, detox supplements as well as specific mineral supplements. The reason for incorporating Manganese into joint support supplements is due to the fact that women with osteoporosis often have lower levels of Manganese and one study was able to show a supplement with calcium and manganese along with other trace minerals was better than the calcium supplement alone.
Manganese will most likely never be a supplement on its own for everyday use. However, as they are in joint support supplements, they can be stacked well with additional calcium and/or vitamin D.
_1. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. ‘Manganese’. Last Accessed 14th June 2012.