Why do you need it?

You need manganese for healthy bones, skin, cartilage, nervous system and sugar metabolism. It also plays a key role in protecting your cells from damage and keeps your immune system strong.For most people, taking four milligrams or less of manganese supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm. Older people may be more sensitive to manganese but taking 0.5 milligrams or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm. Taking too much over time may cause muscle pain, nerve damage, fatigue and depression.


Symptoms of deficiency include low blood sugar, dizziness, bone and cartilage problems and reduced fertility.

How much do you need?

Manganese is considered a trace element – you only need it in very small amounts. There isn’t enough information to set a recommended daily amount for manganese, so the American non-profit Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have set adequate intake levels for manganese at 1.8 milligrams a day for women and 2.3  milligrams a day for men. The adequate intakes for infants, children, adolescents, older adults, pregnant and lactating women are given below.

Recommended nutrient intakes for manganese. Click to read more…
Age groupRecommended nutrient intake
Infants and children
0-6 months0.003
7-12 months0.6
1-3 years1.2
4-8 years1.5
Females, 9-181.6
Males, 9-131.9
Males, 14-182.2
Females, 19-65+1.8
Males, 19-65+2.3
Pregnant women2.0
Lactating women2.6
Source: IOM, 2002. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium and zinc. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Washington, DC, National Academy Press.

Where to find manganese

The best plant sources of manganese include tea, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, pulses, green vegetables, some fruit and tea. Manganese may also be present in small amounts in tap water and its concentration can vary seasonally.  

  • Wholegrains: Sorghum, brown rice and millet are good sources of manganese. The manganese content of sorghum is higher than in rice or corn, but lower than wheat. A cup (121 grams) of wholegrain sorghum flour contains 1.5 milligrams of manganese while a small (100 gram) portion of cooked brown rice contain 0.9 milligrams, and the same amount of millet, 0.3 milligrams. 
  • Pulses: Adzuki beans, black beans and pigeon peas are rich in manganese. Pulses are staple foods in many Ugandan dishes and can be added to soups, stews and salads. A cup (230 grams) of cooked adzuki beans contains 1.3 milligrams of manganese and a cup (172 grams) of cooked black beans, 0.8 milligrams. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, almonds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame (simsim) seeds are excellent sources of manganese. They can be eaten as snacks or added to various dishes like salads and porridges. A small handful (28 grams) of roasted peanuts contains 0.5 milligrams of manganese and almonds, 0.6 milligrams.
  • Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale and amaranth leaves contain manganese. These greens are commonly grown and consumed in Uganda and can be included in dishes such as soups, stews and curries or eaten as a side dish. Half a cup (90 grams) of cooked spinach contains 0.8 milligrams of manganese.
  • Fruit: Some fruits contain manganese, although in smaller amounts compared to other sources. Pineapples, avocados and berries, for example, can be eaten on their own or used in desserts. Half a cup (83 grams) of pineapple chunks contains 0.8 milligrams of manganese. 
  • Vegetables: Other vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot contain manganese. Widely available in Uganda, they can be used in many dishes or side dishes. One medium (156 gram) baked potato contains 0.3 milligrams of manganese. 
  • Tea: A cup (237 grams) of black tea contains 0.5 milligrams of manganese.