Understand manganese and manganese targets in the Nutrient Explorer

What it is

Manganese is an essential mineral.

What it does

Manganese is a cofactor for several important enzymes. Those enzymes are involved in a wide variety of important processes, including glucose, protein, bone, and cholesterol metabolism, modulating oxidative stress, immune function, reproduction, and blood clotting.

Recommended intake

The recommended intake for manganese is 3mg per day.

The safe upper limit for manganese intake is 11mg per day.

Likelihood of tracking completeness: Very low

Manganese is not a nutrient that food manufacturers are required to disclose on nutrition labels. The vast majority of food and beverage manufacturers do not voluntarily list manganese content on nutrition labels, so most branded products in the MacroFactor database lack information on manganese. So, if you’d like to accurately track your manganese intake, you’ll need to make a point of mostly tracking “common foods,” which come from research-grade databases that have full nutrient reporting.

For more on when you can track using branded foods versus common foods when you’re trying to accurately monitor your intake of particular nutrients, you should check out this article.

Likelihood of insufficient intake: It’s hard to say

Manganese has never been a micronutrient of high concern because manganese deficiencies are rare, so there’s very little data on typical manganese intakes. Similarly, the recommended intake targets for manganese are pretty low-confidence recommendations, due to a lack of granular data on manganese needs, and the consequences of manganese deficiencies.

With all of that said, older data from the US and more recent data from Italy suggest that typical manganese intakes are in the range of 2-3mg/day, meaning that most people consume less than the recommended 3mg per day. That might mean that most people consume insufficient amounts of manganese, but it might also mean that the manganese intake targets are a bit too high.

For more on nutrients with a greater likelihood of insufficient or excessive intake, you should check out this article.

Signs of deficiency

Manganese deficiencies may affect bone mineralization, hair pigmentation, skin health, blood cholesterol levels and lipid metabolism, premenstrual symptoms, and glucose tolerance.

Good sources

A lot of the best sources of manganese are spices, including cloves, ginger, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, lemongrass, black pepper, and basil. Many teas are also relatively rich in manganese. Other good sources of manganese include acai berries, blueberries, lingonberries, heart of palm, wheat germ, rhubarb, and many green leafy vegetables. 

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about micronutrients generally, there’s a five-part series on the MacroFactor website you might enjoy.

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