Manganese

How much do you need daily?

Dietary reference values for manganese have not been established in the UK.

Are we getting enough?

In 2000, the UK population’s exposure to manganese was measured in the UK Food Standards Agency’s Total Diet Study. The dietary exposure of adults to manganese for average and high level consumers was respectively 5.2 and 9.2 milligrams per day. This lies within the range deemed to be safe and adequate.

Why do we need it?

Manganese is a mineral we need for healthy bones, skin, cartilage, nervous system and in sugar metabolism. It also plays a key role in protecting our cells and tissues from damage and keeping the immune system strong.

Although there’s no need to take extra manganese in supplements, if you do have a supplement that contains it, up to 4.0 milligrams a day is unlikely to cause any harm. Older people may be more sensitive to manganese, so the intake from supplements should not be higher than 0.5 milligrams per day. Taking manganese supplements for long periods of time can cause muscle pain, nerve damage, fatigue and depression.

Do I need a supplement?

No, a healthy vegan diet containing the above foods on a daily basis will cover your needs.

The best plant sources

The best plant sources of manganese include tea, wholegrains (wholemeal spaghetti, wheat germ, wholegrain rice, oatmeal or rolled oats and wholemeal bread), nuts (pecan nuts, hazelnuts/filberts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts and peanut butter), pulses (tofu, soya beans, lentils and chickpeas), green vegetables (spinach and kale), berries (blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) soya milk, seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and tahini – sesame seed paste) and avocados.  

Nuts, grains, beans and tea are rich in manganese hence vegetarians and tea drinkers may have a higher intake than the average person but such levels are unlikely to cause adverse health effects.

Manganese may also be present in small amounts in tap water and its concentration can vary seasonally.

Signs of deficiency

low blood sugar, dizziness, bone and cartilage problems and reduced fertility.