Manganese: Deficiency & Toxicity Symptoms

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  • 0:02 Manganese
  • 0:45 Sources
  • 1:40 Deficiency
  • 3:01 Toxicity
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Manganese is a trace mineral used by your body as a cofactor that helps certain enzymes function properly. Learn what happens to your body if you consume too little manganese and what happens, if anything, when you consume too much in this lesson.


No one likes hearing their alarm clock go off in the morning, but the reality is that many times we need that extra boost from our buzzing alarm to give us the incentive to get out of bed and get active. You have similar alarm clocks inside your body called cofactors, which are molecules that help enzymes get to work. In other words, they give certain enzymes a boost that gets them up and active. Manganese is a trace mineral that acts as a cofactor and activates enzymes. In this lesson, we will learn about enzymes that are helped out by manganese and what happens to your body if there's too little or too much of this trace mineral.


Minerals are needed by your body for good health, yet how they get inside of you is somewhat funny to think about. You see, minerals are inorganic substances that originate from the earth beneath your feet. These minerals can then be washed into the oceans, where they are picked up by sea plants and animals, or transferred to plants that grow in the earth, where they can get eaten by animals.

These seafoods, plants and animals can then become food for you and me. So basically, you have bits of the earth inside of you that got there by way of a number of different carriers. The mineral manganese can be obtained by eating a variety of foods. Good food sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts & seeds, legumes and leafy green vegetables. You can even obtain it from drinking tea.


We mentioned that manganese is an activator of enzymes; specifically, the enzymes that rely on manganese are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol. So you can imagine that if there's not enough manganese in your body, these metabolic processes will be hindered. Having too little manganese means you have a manganese deficiency. This is actually rare in humans, but if it were to occur, it could result in altered carbohydrate metabolism and impaired glucose tolerance, which is a pre-diabetic state characterized by high blood sugar levels.

There are also enzymes involved in bone formation that require manganese to work properly. So a manganese deficiency could results in skeletal abnormalities and impaired growth. Manganese is also a component of an antioxidant enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase. Antioxidants are like little cell protectors that shield your cells from harm. So it would stand to reason that a deficiency could limit the effectiveness of the antioxidant enzyme. This would increase the oxidative stress within your body and could lead to cell damage that may present as skin problems and asthma.


The National Academy of Sciences has established a tolerable upper intake level (UL) of manganese of 11 mg. As you might have gathered from the term, the UL is defined as the highest average daily nutrient intake level that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. So, if you don't take in more than 11 mg of manganese, then you should have no worries about toxicity.

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