Home Nutrition Manganese Deficiency - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Manganese Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Manganese is an important trace mineral in the body. It is needed for various important functions. This includes enzymatic activities and other biochemical reactions.


Even though it is needed in little amounts in the body, low levels of manganese or the lack of manganese in your body can cause serious health complications.

Your body cannot manufacture this nutrient, so you have to get it from your diet. We have covered a lot on the uses of manganese in the body.

If you missed the post, click HERE. In this post, we will be looking at the symptoms of manganese deficiencies and signs to watch out for.

Symptoms of Manganese Deficiency

Bone problems

Enzymes use manganese to form bones and cartilage. A lack of manganese in the body can obstruct this process and this can lead to skeletal defects or poor growth and development of bones.

In severe cases of deficiency, it can lead to skeletal defects like enlarged joints, thicker and shorter limbs, and curved spine. It also affects movement, stability, and coordination.

Low fertility

Low levels of manganese cause infertility in women. Manganese is used by the body to make reproductive hormones. It helps maintains a healthy reproductive system and boosts fertility.

You need a healthy level of manganese during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Impaired or slow growth

Manganese helps the body absorb and utilize nutrients from foods. This helps you grow and develop properly. If manganese is missing from your diet or you are deficient in this important mineral, your growth rate would be affected.

These nutrients promote healthy growth development and boost your overall health.

Weak tendons and ligaments

A deficiency in manganese can affect the ligaments and tendons attached to the bones.

Myasthenia gravis

This is an autoimmune disease. It affects the neuromuscular system and cause intense fatigue and muscle weakness. Manganese is used for the activation of many enzymes in the body.

These enzymes help in the absorption of vitamins and minerals and choline. The body uses these nutrients to coordinate your muscles and movement.

Deficiency in manganese can prevent the utilization of choline. This would reduce the synthesis of acetyl choline thereby leading to this condition, myasthenia gravis.

Abnormal metabolism of fat and carbohydrate


Manganese is needed in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. That is why a deficiency in manganese can cause diabetes.


A deficiency in manganese can trigger diabetes. This is due to the fact that low levels of manganese affect the metabolism of glucose. This will affect the production of insulin and cause diabetes.


This is a neurological condition characterized by lack of muscle movement and coordination. A deficiency in manganese can cause this.

Note that this symptoms mentioned above can also be signs of other health problems. So when you notice any of these, the best thing to do is to go to a hospital for proper diagnosis.

Ask to have the levels of your manganese checked also. This will help know the exact root cause of your symptoms.

Causes of Manganese Deficiency

Wrong diet

Constant intake of processed and junk foods can deplete the stores of manganese in your body. This can lead to manganese deficiency in your body.

To prevent this, you have to change your diet to a healthy one. Most of your diet should be nutritious. You can take your junks once in a while.


Do not replace real and healthy foods with junks if you want to keep nutritional deficiencies at bay.

Medical conditions

There are some medical conditions that cause manganese deficiency. This is because they deplete the stores of manganese in your body. Examples of such conditions are:

  • Kids with phenylketonuria, this is a genetic condition characterised by high levels of phenylketonuria in the blood.
  • Kids with Perthes disease, this is a rare condition characterized by disrupted flow of blood to the thigh bone.
  • People on haemodialysis
  • People with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. In this condition, one has difficulty digesting foods. This is caused by deficiency of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. Manganese is needed in making these digestive enzymes.
  • Diabetes patients
  • Epileptics
  • And people with osteoporosis

People with these conditions are usually placed on manganese supplements.

Diagnosis of Manganese Deficiency

A blood test is carried out to evaluate the levels of manganese in your blood sample. In adults, the normal reference range for manganese is between 4.7 and 18.3 ng/ml.

Anything below or outside this range is abnormal. You need to increase your intake of manganese fast or stop the use of manganese supplements.

Treatment of Manganese Deficiency

Manganese supplements are given to patients with deficiency. You would also be advised to increase your intake of manganese-rich foods. Manganese supplements should not be taken for a long time.

The adequate daily intake for manganese in adult men is 2.3 mg daily and that of adult women is 1.8 mg daily.

They increase your risks of toxicity. Excess amounts of manganese in the body can cause lung inflammation. This would trigger symptoms like bronchitis and whopping cough.

Welders and smelters are at increased risks of this because the dusts emitted contain manganese. Large amount of manganese in the body can also cause reduced motor functions and psychological disturbances.


It is impossible to get manganese toxicity from eating natural foods. Manganese is already present in these foods in very little amounts. It is impossible to eat plenty of such foods to make you toxic.

Natural Sources of Manganese

The best way to get your manganese is through diet because this has no risk of toxicity. Manganese supplements however, have high risks of toxicity and this can lead to more health problems.

Below are some of the best natural sources of manganese.

  • Mussels: 100 grams of mussels contains 6.8 mg of manganese. That is 296% of your daily value.
  • Toasted wheat germ: 100 grams of this contains 20 mg. That is, 868% of your daily value.
  • Firm tofu: 100 grams of this contains 1.2mg of manganese. This is 51% of your daily value.
  • Sweet potatoes: 100 grams of this contains 1mg of manganese. This makes up 43% of your daily value.
  • Pine nuts: 100 grams of pine nuts contains 8.8mg making 383% of your daily value.
  • Brown rice: 100 mg of this gives you 1.1mg of manganese. This is 48% of your daily intake.
  • Lima beans: 100 grams of this gives you 1.3 mg of manganese. This makes up 54% of your daily value.
  • Garbanzo beans (Chick peas): 100 grams of this would give you 1mg of manganese. This makes up 45% of your daily value.
  • Spinach: 100 grams of spinach would give you 0.9mg of manganese. This would give you 41% of your daily value.
  • Pineapples: 100 grams of pineapple would give you 0.9mg of manganese. This makes 40% of your daily value.
  • Cloves: A tablespoon of cloves (6 grams) contains 2 mg of manganese. This makes up 98% of your DV.
  • Garlic: A cup of garlic (136 grams) contains 2.3 mg of manganese. This makes up 114% of your DV.
  • Beets: A cup of beetroots contains 0.60mg of manganese, this makes up 27% of your daily value.

Other rich sources of manganese are:

  • Blueberries (1 cup gives 22% of your DV)
  • Strawberries (1 cup gives 28% of your DV)
  • Grapes (1 cup gives 29% of your DV)
  • Blackberries (1 cup gives 40% of your DV)

PS: DV stands for Daily Value.


  1. USDA Nutrition Data
  2. Role of manganese in neurodegenerative diseases NCBI
  3. Manganese in health and diseases NCBI
Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

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