How Manganese Blood Levels May Be Influenced by Genetics

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How Manganese Blood Levels May Be Influenced by Genetics

Date of Content: May 14, 2024
Written by: Harvey Talento
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


What is Manganese?

Manganese (Mn) ranks as the fifth most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. It is a hard, brittle, silvery-gray metal essential for many living organisms, including humans. 

Manganese has several important roles in human health:

Benefits of Manganese to Humans

The benefits of manganese to human health are diverse and essential. This trace mineral plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including metabolism, bone health, antioxidant activity, and cognitive function. Here are some key benefits of manganese:

  • Antioxidant Protection: As mentioned above, manganese helps form an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD), which protects the body from free radicals that can damage cells.
  • Bone Health: When combined with other nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, manganese supports strong and dense bones. It promotes bone formation and reduces bone loss, which is particularly important for older individuals susceptible to osteoporosis.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Manganese may aid in lowering blood sugar levels, benefiting individuals with diabetes by improving glucose tolerance and insulin secretion.
  • Wound Healing: Essential for collagen formation, manganese is crucial for wound healing. Applying manganese along with other minerals like calcium and zinc to wounds can speed up the healing process.
  • Brain Function: Vital for brain health, manganese enhances cognitive function by protecting brain cells from damage caused by free radicals and improving neurotransmission in the brain.
  • Thyroid Health: Manganese is necessary for the production of thyroxine, a hormone important for thyroid function. Adequate manganese levels are crucial for maintaining proper thyroid health and hormone balance.

Dietary Sources

Dietary sources of manganese include a variety of foods that can help individuals meet their recommended daily intake of this essential mineral. Here are some key dietary sources of manganese:

  • Whole Grains: Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and other whole grains are rich in manganese.
  • Shellfish: Mussels, oysters, and clams are excellent sources of manganese.
  • Nuts: Hazelnuts, pecans, and peanuts provide good amounts of manganese.
  • Legumes: Soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are all sources of manganese.
  • Leafy Vegetables: Spinach and kale contain manganese.
  • Fruits: Pineapple, blueberries, and apples contribute to manganese intake.
  • Tea: Black tea is a good source of manganese.
  • Spices: Black pepper is noted for its manganese content.

Incorporating these foods into the diet can help individuals maintain adequate levels of manganese, which is essential for various bodily functions such as energy production, bone health, and immune system support.

Recommended Manganese Intake

The recommended intake of manganese in milligrams varies by age and gender:

  • Adult Males (19+): 2.3 mg per day
  • Adult Females (19+): 1.8 mg per day
  • Pregnant Women: 2.0 mg per day
  • Breastfeeding Women: 2.6 mg per day

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults is 11 mg per day. Exceeding this amount can be harmful, so it is important to stay within the recommended levels to ensure optimal well-being and avoid potential risks.

How Genetics May Influence Manganese Levels

Understanding how genetics may influence manganese levels is crucial for personalized wellness strategies. Research has shed light on the role of genetic variants in two key manganese transporter genes, the solute carries SLC39A8 and SLC30A10, their genetic variants (SNPs), and their impact on serum manganese levels.

  • SLC39A8 encodes a zinc transporter that imports manganese and zinc into cells, especially during inflammation. The SNP rs13107325 C>T in SLC39A8 leads to a non-synonymous variant. This SNP has been associated with lower manganese levels and is predicted to have damaging effects on the SLC98A protein function due to an alanine-to-threonine substitution. 
  • SLC30A10 is a manganese efflux transporter that decreases intracellular manganese levels and protects against toxicity. The lead SNP rs1776029 lies 3 prime of the SLC30A10 and the G>A variant is associated with lower levels of manganese. 

For both SNPs, the less common (minor) alleles are associated with lower serum manganese levels compared to the median, possibly due to increased clearance or decreased absorption. These findings validate that absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination (ADME) pathways involving transporters, which have been described in various experimental studies, are relevant in determining blood manganese levels.

Advancements in genetic testing, via platforms like LifeDNA, provide a comprehensive analysis of genetic variants associated with manganese levels, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their supplementation and dietary choices. 

Non-Genetic Factors Influencing Manganese Levels

Several key factors can influence manganese levels in the body aside from genetics:

Dietary Intake

The amount of manganese consumed through food is a major determinant of manganese levels. Foods rich in manganese include whole grains, nuts, legumes, leafy vegetables, and some fruits.


Manganese levels can vary with age. Infants receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) may be exposed to excessive manganese, potentially increasing their risk of adverse health effects.


During pregnancy, there is a higher demand for manganese, leading to increased blood manganese levels. Environmental factors may also influence blood manganese levels in pregnant women.

Liver Function

Environmental Exposure

Exposure to high levels of manganese in drinking water or occupational settings can lead to elevated manganese levels.

Parenteral Nutrition

Individuals receiving long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN) may accumulate excessive manganese in the brain, potentially leading to neurological effects.

In summary, while genetics play a role, factors such as dietary intake, absorption, age, pregnancy, liver function, environmental exposure, and parenteral nutrition can significantly influence manganese levels in the body.

Symptoms of Manganese Deficiency

Symptoms of manganese deficiency in humans can manifest in various ways:

  • Muscle Weakness: Low levels of manganese can lead to muscle weakness.
  • Tremors: Manganese deficiency may cause tremors in individuals.
  • Impaired Coordination: Another symptom of manganese deficiency is impaired coordination.
  • Metabolic Abnormalities: Abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and fats can occur with manganese deficiency.
  • Slow Growth: Manganese deficiency may result in slow or impaired growth.
  • Poor Bone Growth: Inadequate manganese levels can lead to poor bone growth and skeletal defects.
  • Low Fertility: Manganese deficiency may impact fertility levels in individuals.
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance: Individuals with manganese deficiency may experience impaired glucose tolerance.

Optimizing Manganese Levels in The Body

To optimize manganese levels in the body, consider following these recommendations:

  • Dietary Intake: Incorporate foods rich in manganese into your diet, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dark chocolate. A balanced diet with these sources can ensure adequate manganese intake.
  • Supplementation: If necessary, discuss manganese supplementation with a healthcare provider, especially if you have a deficiency. The recommended daily intake for manganese is 2.3 mg per day for adult men and 1.8 mg per day for adult women.
  • Avoid Interference: Be mindful of iron-rich foods or supplements, as they can reduce manganese absorption. Phosphorus and calcium may also affect manganese retention, although to a lesser extent compared to iron.
  • Monitor Intake: Stay within the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of 11 mg per day to prevent the negative effects of excessive manganese consumption.
  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: If you suspect a manganese deficiency or have a condition that may impact manganese levels, consult with a doctor to discuss your concerns and determine the best course of action.

By incorporating manganese-rich foods, considering supplementation when necessary, being aware of dietary interactions, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can effectively optimize manganese levels in your body.

About the LifeDNA Vitamins & Supplements Report

Ensuring that you have the right balance of essential nutrients is crucial for your well-being, and understanding your genetic predispositions can provide valuable insights. The LifeDNA Vitamins & Supplements Report is an excellent tool designed to help you achieve your optimal wellness.

By analyzing your unique genetic makeup, the report offers personalized recommendations on vitamins and minerals, tailored specifically to your body’s needs. One of the key features of this comprehensive report is the Manganese Levels trait report, which provides detailed information on how your genes may influence your manganese levels.

With the LifeDNA Vitamins & Supplements Report, you can gain access to scientifically-backed insights that can guide your nutritional choices more effectively today.


  • Manganese is a vital trace mineral essential for various bodily functions, including bone health, metabolism, and antioxidant activity. Benefits of manganese to human health include antioxidant protection, bone health, blood sugar regulation, wound healing, brain function, and thyroid health. Its role in these functions underscores its importance in maintaining overall wellness.
  • Dietary sources rich in manganese include whole grains, shellfish, nuts, legumes, leafy vegetables, fruits, tea, and spices. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help you meet recommended daily intake levels and support optimal health.
  • Recommended manganese intake varies by age and gender, with adult males needing 2.3 mg per day and adult females requiring 1.8 mg per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have slightly higher requirements, emphasizing the importance of meeting these nutritional needs during different life stages.
  • Genetic variants in manganese transporter genes, such as SLC39A8 and SLC30A10, can influence serum manganese levels. Understanding these genetic influences which can potentially impact manganese absorption, clearance, and toxicity, can inform personalized wellness strategies. Besides genetics, non-genetic factors such as dietary intake, age, pregnancy, liver function, environmental exposure, and parenteral nutrition can also influence manganese levels in the body, highlighting the multifaceted nature of manganese regulation.
  • Symptoms of manganese deficiency may include muscle weakness, tremors, impaired coordination, metabolic abnormalities, slow growth, poor bone health, low fertility, and impaired glucose tolerance, underscoring the importance of maintaining adequate manganese levels.
  • Optimizing manganese levels involves incorporating manganese-rich foods into the diet, considering supplementation under guidance when necessary, being mindful of dietary interactions, and staying within recommended intake levels to prevent adverse effects of excess consumption.
  • Consulting a healthcare provider is essential for addressing concerns related to manganese deficiency, or excess, and determining the best approach for optimizing manganese levels based on individual needs and circumstances.



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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

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