We only need manganese in very small amounts, nevertheless, it plays an important role in the body. For example, it’s used to help break down the carbs, fats and protein in our diets into energy and is needed for the formation of healthy teeth and bones. Read on to find out more ways we use manganese.


Check out our Vitamins and Minerals Information Hub to learn more about key nutrients – from whether you’re getting enough vitamin D to the top 10 healthiest sources of vitamin C, plus vital minerals you need in your diet.

What is manganese?

Manganese is a mineral present in very small amounts in the body, we cannot make it so we must get it from the food we eat. We absorb manganese in the small intestine and store it in our bones. Smaller amounts are also found in the liver, brain, kidneys and pancreas. It is very difficult to assess manganese levels because your intake does not always correlate with the levels determined by a blood test.

Why do we need manganese?

Manganese acts as a co-factor helping initiate the action of a number of enzymes – these enzymes are involved in breaking down the food we eat, building bone, supporting our immunity and keeping our reproductive system functioning well. Manganese also works with vitamin K to form blood clots, that help wounds heal.

The health benefits of manganese include:

  • Helps maintain hormone, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Involved in blood clotting and wound healing
  • Helps the formation of bones and teeth
  • Helps the formation of connective tissue
  • Involved in the digestion of carbs, fats and protein
  • Involved in calcium absorption
  • Involved in the formation of antioxidants (including the highly effective superoxide dismutase) making manganese important for immunity and reducing inflammation
  • Involved in normal brain and nerve function

How much manganese do we need?

There isn’t a recommended daily amount for manganese, but 1.8mg for women and 2.3mg for men is considered sufficient. Most of us achieve this from a varied, balanced diet but if you do supplement an intake of 1-10mg per day is considered safe and adequate.

More like this

What are the effects of consuming too much manganese?

For the majority of us, the risk of toxicity is slim. However, for those with an occupational exposure (miners and smelters), there may be a risk of neurotoxicity which may present as Parkinson-like disorders including tremors, muscle spasms, hearing loss and poor balance. Other vulnerable groups include those with:

  • iron deficiency anaemia,
  • liver disease or impaired biliary clearance,
  • a history of long-term use of antipsychotic drugs.

Supplementation may also not be appropriate for those with an allergy, kidney disorder as well as those taking prescribed medication for diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or certain antibiotics.

What are the signs of a manganese deficiency?

A deficiency of manganese is very rare, although low levels may contribute to poor bone formation and strength, infertility, weakness, cognitive decline and potential seizures.

Our absorption of manganese may be reduced when food sources are consumed with iron-rich foods. This is because both iron and manganese compete for the same proteins that aid their absorption.

Which foods are sources of manganese?

Manganese is present in a wide range of foods from shellfish to green vegetables, nuts, black tea, wholegrain bread and even spices.

Which foods are useful sources of manganese?

  • Shellfish including mussels, clams and oysters
  • Nuts like pecans and hazelnuts
  • Legumes including soy beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peanuts and lentils
  • Spinach
  • Black tea
  • Oats
  • Brown rice

Enjoy these recipes that contribute useful amounts of manganese

Mussels with tomatoes & chilli
Salpicón de marisco
Spicy squid ragu with pasta & clams
Peanut butter overnight oats
Kidney bean curry
Seeded wholemeal soda bread

Always speak to your GP or healthcare provider before taking a new supplement or if you are concerned about nutritional deficiencies.

Enjoy this? Now try...

What is zinc?
What is folic acid?
What is phosphorous?
What is potassium?
Vital vitamins
Healthy pregnancy diet
What is vitamin B12?
The best sources of vitamin C
Am I getting enough vitamin D?

This article was reviewed on 20th November 2023 by Kerry Torrens.

Emer is a specialist dietitian who combines her love of food and science to help increase people’s awareness of a healthy lifestyle. An expert in IBS, weight loss and women’s health, she brings energy and passion to her profession and enjoys bringing the science of nutrition to life. In ebook IBS? Recipes For Success, Emer shares quick and easy recipes for people suffering from IBS, combining her passion for cooking with her expert knowledge. She has worked in top London teaching hospitals and balances her time between her media work, private clients and NHS commitments.


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post