Manganese is an essential trace mineral found in very small quantities in our body. This mineral performs several vital biological functions within the body such as the proper functioning of enzymes, healing wounds, assimilation of nutrients and development of bones. Moreover, superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme that aids in combating the harmful free radicals, also contains this mineral.
The University of Maryland Medical Center has stated that as high as 37 percent people in America do not receive their manganese RDI (recommended daily intake), which is 2.5 mg for adult men and 1.8 mg for adult women. If one continues to suffer from manganese deficiency it may result in several symptoms like infertility problems, joint pain and other problems related to bone health. Hence, consuming more foods rich in manganese content is necessary for maintaining optimum health.
Best natural sources of manganese
Nuts: These are an excellent natural source of manganese, especially for vegans and vegetarians. For example, consuming one serving of 28 grams hazelnut provides us with about 78 percent of recommended daily intake of this trace mineral. In addition, 28 grams of walnuts, macadamia, and pecans also supply us with more than 48 per cent of our manganese RDI. Even almonds, pistachios and cashews contain reasonably high levels of manganese.
Apart from enclosing high concentrations of manganese, nuts are also an excellent natural source of vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, plant sterols (effective in lowering LDL or bad cholesterol), and a semi-essential amino acid called L-arginine, which promotes the functioning of our cardiovascular system. There are some who prefer consuming nuts soaked in water, because, as in nature, soaking the nuts in water stimulates them to germinate and thereby facilitates in countering anti-nutrients and also trigger specific enzymes.
Seafood: While we are aware that seafood is rich in zinc content, the fact is that it also has high concentrations of manganese. Mussels contain the maximum manganese. For instance, 85 grams of mussels provide us with 5.8 mg or 340 percent of our required daily intake for manganese. Clams are second on the list, while crawfish is next. About 85 grams of clams and crawfish provide us with 43 percent and 22 percent of our RDI, respectively. In addition, 85 grams of common fish like trout, bass, perch, and pike are also excellent natural manganese sources, each supplying us with anything between 38 percent and 48 percent of our RDI. However, it is important to stay away from contaminated seafood. You can ensure this by using seafood farmed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Seeds: Often, the nutritional profiles of various seeds are similar to that of nuts. Hence, they also contain high levels of manganese. In fact, pumpkin seeds are the best source of manganese, as a serving of 28 grams of these seeds encloses 1.3 mg of this trace mineral or 64 percent of our RDI. In addition, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds are also excellent natural sources of manganese. A serving of 28 grams of these seeds each supplies us a minimum of 30 percent of our RDI.
Seeds also contain high levels of other nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and phytosterols (beneficial plant compounds). Similar to nuts, seeds, particularly chia seeds, are more beneficial when consumed after soaking in water.
Beans: As a cultivation crop, beans have a long history and it has been a vital protein source all through the Old as well as the New World. Beans also enclose high levels of manganese. For instance, 85 grams (half a cup) of lima beans and winged beans provide use with a little over 50 percent of our RDI of this mineral. In addition, adzuki beans, chickpeas, and white beans are also loaded with manganese.
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and even dried herbs as well as spices (particularly cloves), garlic, rice bran, sun-dried tomatoes, and blackstrap molasses are also great natural sources of manganese. Besides, the majority of the whole foods also enclose trivial amounts of manganese. This is the reason people consuming more of organic foods seldom suffer from manganese deficiency.