Manganese is Essential


Manganese is essential for the normal physiological functioning of humans, animals and plants. Exposure to low levels of manganese through diet is considered nutritionally essential in humans. Naturally ubiquitous in the environment, manganese can be found in rocks, soils, rivers, underground waters and foods such as nuts, legumes, seeds, tea, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables to name but a few. Considered as an essential nutrient, the body requires it to function properly – break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins and for bone strengthening as part of several enzymes, hence people use it in medicines included with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride (multi-ingredient products) to combat osteoarthritis.

Manganese deficiency is not common in humans. However, lack of manganese has been found to cause improper formation of bone and cartilage. In soils with reduced manganese content usually due to poor drainage, crops sown on such soils suffer from yellowing of leaves, brown spots and severely affected leaves wither.

Manganese in excess can cause health effects in humans and animals but excess conditions in plants/crops are rare.

Manganese and Human Health

There is general agreement amongst health professionals and dieticians that manganese is essential to ensure the health and well being of humans and animals. The human body contains from 12 to 20 milligrams of manganese. Estimations of the human requirements for manganese vary considerably, but are based on studies of the balance between intake and excretion necessary to maintain this level.

Human consumption depends on the amount of certain foods consumed. The typical English winter diet (with substantial tea intake) provides up to 8.8 mg of manganese per day, while studies of women in Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the USA suggest average daily intakes from 2.5 to 4 mg per day.

Manganese and tea

The following fresh food groups (in descending order) are most important in manganese content : nuts, whole cereals, dried fruits, roots, tubers and stalks, fruits, non-leafy vegetables, meat, poultry products, fish and seafoods. Leafy vegetables also rank high on the list when expressed in dry-weight terms. Tea has a very high manganese content, ten times that of cereals.

Manganese deficiency has been demonstrated in animals and has been noted in humans in association with vitamin K deficiency. Its main manifestations in all species studied are impaired growth, skeletal abnormalities, disturbed or depressed reproductive functions, lack of muscular coordination among newborns and defects in lipid and carbohydrate metabolisms.

Manganese, like anything else, when in excess has been demonstrated in animals and highlighted in some epidemiological studies to cause subtle sub-clinical neurological effects if inhaled in excess or in small amounts over a long period of time. Exposure via the gut, on the other hand has been shown in similar studies to be tightly controlled by homeostatsis.

Manganese and Animal health

Grazing cattle do not seem to suffer from manganese shortage, probably because their manganese requirements are met by the herbage they consume. Manganese deficiency is a more serious problem in domestic animals such as poultry, non-grazing cattle and pigs. The main reason for this is that protein supplements of animal origin (dried milk, fish meal, mean meal) are usually low in manganese.

To promote strong legs in poultry, and to keep up normal egg production, it is necessary to supplement their feed with about 40 mg of manganese per kilo of weight. For ruminants, the requirement for optimal skeletal development is only 20-25 mg/kilo. Soybean meal, important in poultry raising, contains 30 to 40 ppm manganese.

Manganese and animals

Completed Projects

Over the past decade, the IMnI has encouraged and taken part in several scientific research projects related to manganese. Outside the projects aimed at filling knowledge gaps such as those driven by the IMnI under the partnership with the US Military Operational Medicine Research Program- Manganese Health Research Program (MHRP). The IMnI has also sponsored and/or co-sponsored projects focusing on worker protection.

Title Format Download
Guidance for the collection of inhalable and respirable airborne manganese dust Download
Occupational exposure limits: Criteria document for manganese and inorganic manganese compounds Download
Development of a biotic ligand model for manganese Download
Manganese Ore Characterization Project – Summary & Results Download
Update on OELs and towards a worldwide harmonization OEL for manganese and its inorganic compounds Download
Identification and Review of the Recent (2009-June 2013) Scientific Literature Relevant to the Human Risk Assessment for Mn & its Inorganic Compound Download
Application of Physiologically-Based Pharmacokinetic Models in Mn Risk Assessment Download
Mn-CatReg: Application of Categorical Regression to Manganese Risk Assessment Download
Is Manganese CMR? – Dr Doreen McGough, IMnI HSE Manager Download
Classification of Mn Substances – Dr Keven Harlow, IMnI Regulatory Affairs Manager Download

Ongoing Projects

On-going projects driven by the Institute are carefully selected to align with the vision of providing the Mn industry with guidance, tools and information that will allow it to anticipate health, safety and environment demands whilst improving worker safety, sustainability and ensuring industry profitability. The list of on-going projects with a health focus includes:-

  • Socio-Economic Analysis of SiMn Slags
  • Systematic Review of Neurodevelopment Literature
  • Characterisation of the Hazardous Profile of Ferromanganese Slag and Silicomanganese slag
  • Database of Worldwide Regulatory OELs update for 2018
Title Format Download
Potential implications of new information concerning manganese Ohio community health effects studies by Gradient Download
Assessment of Workplace Exposure to Metallic Nanoparticles Produced During Metal Inert Gas Welding Using Nanoparticle Respiratory Deposition Sampler by Dr. Ulrike Dydak Download
Using targeted urine metabolomics to distinguish between manganese exposed and unexposed workers in a small occupational cohort by Dr. Marissa Baker Download
Sensitivity and specificity of MRI markers of Mn brain depostion by Ulrike Dydak Download
Manganism project_111320_Review of Mn Pharmacokinetics Download
Manganism project_111320_Mn Environmental Biomarkers Review Download
Manganism project_111320_Mn Environmental Biomarkers Biblio data_searches and eligibility criteria Download
Manganism project_111320_Mn Occupational Biomarkers Methods_Selected studies_Welders data Download
Manganism project_111320_Mn Occupational Biomarkers Review Download
Rodent hair is a poor biomarker for internal Mn exposure by Michael Aschner and Aaron Bowman Download