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Manganese vs Magnesium

Manganese vs. Magnesium: What’s the Difference?


Manganese is a trace mineral in the body that is constantly mistaken for magnesium, however, it is actually completely different. Here is a comparison of the two minerals:


Manganese (Mn) is a trace metal commonly found in the environment. It is a mineral element that is both potentially toxic and nutritionally essential.

Our body contains 20 mg of Mn, mainly concentrated in the liver, bones, kidneys, and pancreas.

It exists in many living organisms and acts as a cofactor for a few enzymes, like – manganese superoxide dismutase, the key enzyme which protects the mitochondria from oxidative damage.


It is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. For instance, our body contains approximately 25g of Mg, 27 percent of that amount is found in muscle, and over 60 percent is found in the skeleton.

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Wound Healing

It is present in an enzyme that provides proline, an amino acid that is required for the production of collagen in the skin cells. Collagen plays a vital role in the healing of wounds of skin and other tissues.

Bone Health

It is essential for enzymes that help form bone and cartilage.

Antioxidant Properties

A manganese-containing enzyme present in the cells is the primary detoxifier of free radicals (unstable atoms which can damage cells, causing aging and illness).

Moreover, the creation of essential fatty acids and protein and carbohydrate metabolism all rely on having normal levels of Mn present.


Decreased Anxiety

When GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is low, the brain gets stuck in the “on” position, and it becomes impossible to relax. Mg alleviates stress-induced anxiety by binding to GABA receptors.

Reduces PMS Symptoms

Supplementing with as little as 200 mg a week before your period is shown to reduce PMS symptoms.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Supplementing with 450 mg of Mg chloride over a 4 month period reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA.

Depression Support

Many pre-clinical and clinical studies confirmed that Mg plays an important role in mood stabilization.

Gut Health

A deficiency in this essential mineral alters gut microbiota, leading to depressive behavior as well as a low immunity.

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Recommended Dietary Allowance


No recommended dietary allowances for Mn have been established. But, there is an Adequate Intake (AI).

AI levels for Mn are:

  • breastfeeding women, 2.6 mg;
  • pregnant women age 14 to 50, 2 mg;
  • women 19 and older, 1.8 mg;
  • men age 19 and older, 2.3 mg;
  • girls 9 to 18 years, 1.6 mg;
  • boys 14 to 18 years, 2.2 mg;
  • boys 9 to 13 years, 1.9 mg;
  • children 4 to 8 years 1.5 mg;
  • children 1 to 3 years, 1.2 mg;
  • infants 7 to 12 months, 600 mcg;
  • infants birth to 6 months, 300 mcg.


The RDA for Mg depends on age and gender:

  • during breastfeeding: 310 to 360 mg per day;
  • during pregnancy: 350 to 400 mg;
  • females aged 19 years and over: 310 to 320 mg;
  • females aged 14 to 18 years: 360 mg;
  • males aged 19 years and over: 400 to 420 mg;
  • males aged 14 to 18 years: 410 mg;
  • children, 9 to 13 years: 240 mg;
  • children, 4 to 8 years: 130 mg;
  • toddlers, 1 to 3 years of age: 80 mg.

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The absorption of Mn takes place in the small intestine. The individual absorption efficiency varies, depending on numerous factors, however, less than 10 percent of one’s total Mn intake is absorbed.

Note – according to studies, iron status is linked with the amount of Mn absorbed from a meal.

Some conditions are known to impact Mg absorption, such as:

  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • emotional stress;
  • kidney disorders;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • excessive intake of alcoholic beverages;
  • the use of medications that reduce the amount of stomach acid.


Signs of Mn deficiency include:

  • altered carbohydrate and lipid metabolism;
  • impaired glucose tolerance;
  • skeletal abnormalities;
  • impaired reproductive function;
  • impaired growth.

Reasons that may lead to an Mg deficiency include:

  • chronic gut problems;
  • poor nutrition;
  • soil depletion;
  • the use of antibiotics and diuretics.

Signs and symptoms of Mg deficiency include:

  • weakness;
  • fatigue;
  • nausea;
  • headache;
  • loss of appetite.

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Food Sources

The best foods source of Mn include:

  • Rice bran, crude: 14mg per 100g;
  • Wheat germ, crude: 13mg;
  • Hazelnuts: 13mg;
  • Wheat bran, crude: 11mg;
  • Pine nuts, dried: 9mg;
  • Fireweed, leaves, raw: 7mg;
  • Butternuts, dried: 7mg;
  • Oat bran, raw: 6mg;
  • Rye flour: 5mg;
  • Lemongrass, raw: 5mg;
  • Oats: 5mg;
  • Hickory nuts, dried: 5mg;
  • Pecans: 5mg;
  • Seaweed, agar, dried: 4mg;
  • Triticale flour: 4mg;
  • Macadamia nuts, raw: 4mg;
  • Walnuts: 4mg;
  • Rice, brown, long-grain: 4mg;
  • Winged beans: 4mg;
  • Chestnuts, dried: 4mg;
  • Tofu: 4mg.

The best food sources for Mg include:

  • Rice bran, crude: 781mg per 100g;
  • Seaweed, agar, dried: 770mg;
  • Cottonseeds: 760mg;
  • Chives, freeze-dried: 640mg;
  • Wheat bran, crude: 611mg;
  • Seeds, pumpkin, and squash seed kernels, dried: 535mg;
  • Watermelon seed kernels, dried: 515mg;
  • Soy flour: 429mg;
  • Flaxseeds: 392mg;
  • Mothbeans: 381mg;
  • Brazil nuts, dried, unblanched: 376mg;
  • Parsley, freeze-dried: 372mg;
  • Sunflower seed butter: 369mg;
  • Sesame butter, paste: 362mg;
  • Sesame seeds, whole: 356mg;
  • Peanut butter, smooth: 355mg;
  • Safflower seed kernels, dried: 353mg;
  • Sunflower seeds: 346mg;
  • Yardlong beans: 338mg;
  • Cowpeas, catjang: 333mg;
  • Sisymbrium sp. seeds, whole, dried: 314mg;
  • Almond butter: 303mg;
  • Pili nuts, dried: 302mg;
  • Cashew nuts, raw: 292mg.

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Manganese vs Magnesium – Differences

Manganese is a trace element that the human body requires in small amounts to be able to function at healthy levels. A deficiency in Mn is so rare that no RDA has been established for it.

Magnesium benefits include improving physical performance, supporting your DNA, reducing anxiety, and improving bone health. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of American adults are deficient in this essential mineral.

Symptoms include:

  • ADHD;
  • Fatigue;
  • Depression;
  • Brain fog;
  • Aches and pains;
  • Digestive trouble;
  • Anxiety;
  • Metabolic problems;
  • Heart irregularities;
  • Irregular sleep patterns and insomnia;
  • Migraines;
  • Mood problems.

Types of Mg supplements include:

  • Mg glycinate – it is one of the most absorbable forms of Mg capsules you can take;
  • Mg sulfate – it is added to the bath (in the form of Epsom salts) to soothe sore muscles;
  • Mg chloride – it is best for individuals who have trouble absorbing minerals;
  • Mg citrate – it reduces muscle cramping and promotes mental and muscle relaxation;
  • Mg oxide – it is recommended if you experience constipation;
  • Mg threonate – it can prevent memory deficits;
  • Magnesium malate – it contains malic acid, that helps the cells make and use energy.

Image source – Shutterstock

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