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Manganese performs a number of essential roles in cellular function and human metabolism. At the biochemical level, manganese functions both as a constituent of metallo-enzymes and as an enzyme activator. It is an important constituent of an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) which helps protect tissues against oxidative damage.
At the physiological level, manganese is associated with a diverse set of functions established through scientific work done on manganese deficiencies in animal models. Results indicate that a manganese deficiency may contribute to bone and joint abnormalities, impaired pancreatic function, ataxia, reduced growth, impaired reproductive performance, and abnormal carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
While manganese is abundant and widely distributed in nature, it is required only in trace amounts in the body. The efficiency of manganese absorption in adult humans has been reported to range from 1% to 15%. The best food sources are nuts, cereals, and dried fruit. Vegetables typically contain intermediate levels, while relatively high levels can be found in tea and coffee.
Although isolated cases of manganese toxicosis have occurred from dietary exposure, it is primarily seen in individuals exposed to high respiratory levels found in certain work environments.
For additional information (including a list of references), please refer to the manganese technical bulletin at http://www.usana.com/dotCom/company/science/components.