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.

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.

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) at the IMnI has also sponsored and/or co-sponsored projects focusing on worker protection.

Title Format Download
A review of Occupational Exposure Limits based on post 2004 publications Login
Ore Characterization for Classification & Labeling Purposes Login
Manganese Showcase Symposium Download
Scientific Criteria Document Login
Database of Worldwide Regulatory OELs Login
Working OEL’s and Environmental Release Limits Login
Measuring Exposure in the Workplace – IOM Login
Categorical Regression Analysis Login
PBPK Modeling of Inorganic Manganese Login
Identification and Review of the Scientific Literature Relevant to the Human Risk Assessment (2009 – June 2013) Login

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:-

  • Best Available Science collaboration with the Manganese Interest Group
  • Systematic Reviews of Neurodevelopment Literature
  • IMnI Studies
  • Manganism project