Manganese is a part of many enzyme systems, including the enzymes involved in blood sugar control, energy metabolism, and thyroid hormone function. Manganese also participates in the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, or SOD. This enzyme is responsible for preventing the deleterious effects of the superoxide free radical from destroying cellular components. Without SOD, cells are quite susceptible to damage and inflammation. Manganese supplementation has been shown to increase SOD activity, indicating increased antioxidant activity. Clinically, manganese is used for strains, sprains, and inflammation. There is evidence that patients with rheumatoid arthritis and presumably other chronic inflammatory diseases have an increased need for manganese. No trials have yet been done with manganese and rheumatoid arthritis, but supplementation appears to be indicated.
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Michael T. Murray, Naturopathic Medicine, answered
Dole Nutrition Institute answeredManganese is an essential trace mineral that helps activate powerful antioxidant enzymes, convert fats and proteins into energy, and support cartilage and bone formation. Manganese deficiency is rare, but symptoms can include loss of bone mass and stunted growth in children.
Manganese is crucial in protecting mitochondria—the power plants of the cells—from free-radical damage. Since mitochondria process 90 percent of the oxygen that enters the body, they need the best defense against oxidative damage. Manganese supplies this in the form of manganese superoxide dismutase—the fastest reacting antioxidant enzyme that exists.
Healing wounds requires increased production of cartilage and collagen. Manganese helps support this demand, which makes adequate dietary manganese especially important during recovery from injury. A Polish study found that certain cancer-fighting drugs that impair collagen synthesis and delay wound healing work by immobilizing manganese, so that it can’t activate the collagen-building enzyme.
Manganese helps activate enzymes required for creating cartilage and collagen to support normal bone growth. In a study at the University of California, San Diego, researchers found that while calcium slowed spinal bone-mineral loss in postmenopausal women, a mineral combination of zinc, copper and manganese actually stopped it. Additional studies show that women with osteoporosis have decreased manganese levels.
When Colombian scientists reviewed several human studies comparing manganese levels among epileptics and a control group, they found that seizure sufferers had particularly low levels. More research is needed to determine whether manganese deficiency is a cause—or effect—of epilepsy.