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Manganese: Facts, Uses & Benefits

Instructor: Felicia Fullilove
From soda cans to trace amounts in your body, manganese has a number of uses and health benefits. In this lesson, you will learn about where manganese is located on the periodic table, when it was discovered, and some of its most common uses and benefits.

Manganese Facts

Manganese is a silvery-grey metal. It has an atomic symbol of Mn, and its atomic mass is 54.94 amu (atomic mass units). The atomic number of manganese is 25, which means there are 25 protons in its nucleus. Manganese is found in the transition metal section of the periodic table. Transition metals are elements in the middle of the periodic table that can lose multiple electrons to give rise to positive ions. This is known as the oxidation state of the atom. Manganese can have oxidation states between +2 to +7.

Manganese Atomic Symbol, Number and Mass
Manganese

While it is the fifth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, manganese is typically found as an alloy. An alloy is a material made up of two or more metals or a metal and non-metal. You can think of an alloy like a chocolate chip cookie, where the dough is one type of metal and the chips are a different metal or non-metal. For this reason, scientists had a very difficult time isolating manganese as a single element. However, after several years of study, Swedish chemist and mineralogist (someone who studies minerals) Johan Gottlieb Gahn isolated it as a single component in 1774.

Manganese Oxide
Manganese Oxide

Manganese Uses

While there is much debate about the origins of its name, manganese, in the form of manganese dioxide (MnO2), was first used by prehistoric cave painters in France. Today, you can find manganese in everything from stainless steel to aluminum soda cans. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, metal alloys of steel and aluminum are typically composed of 1% - 1.5% manganese. Even at this low percentage, manganese is capable of increasing alloy strength and resistance to wear. Additionally, ions of manganese are often used as blue and violet pigments. As you can see, manganese has a number of uses.

Solution of Violet Manganese (Manganese Permanganate)
Manganese SOlution

Manganese Benefits

So far, we have learned about some of the common uses of manganese, but did you know that small amounts of manganese are found in your body? This small amount of manganese contributes to a number of different bodily functions.

The manganese in our body is used for everything from rebuilding connective tissue, blood clotting, and regulating your blood sugar. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is no recommended daily value for manganese. However, there is an adequate intake suggestion of three micrograms to two milligrams per day. This number varies based on age group and gender. An adequate intake level is the amount of a nutrient used by a group of healthy people that is thought to be sufficient. You can reach your adequate intake level of manganese by eating whole grains, nuts, and leafy green vegetables.

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