Manganese is a mineral and trace nutrient that our body needs in very small amounts only to function. Like all essential nutrients however, this small amount is essential for certain functions. Manganese is used in generation and regeneration of connective tissues like tendons and in bones as well. It is also used for production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, which are needed to express physical characteristics in men and women.
Relevance in Immune System
Until very recently, Manganese’s main virtue in support of immune system was found in it’s strong anti-bacterial properties. Recent studies however have shown that Manganese plays an essential role the functioning of Innate Immunity’s response against virus.
The cells of our innate immune system sometimes rely on certain minerals to pass information, in a process called chemical communication. In 2018, it was found that aside from Calcium and Zinc, Manganese is also used by immune system cells for communication. In particular for the recognition of cytoplasmic DNA.
In other words, when viral cells infect one of our body’s healthy cells, it eventually kills it, leaving behind a bit of DNA with the virus’ signature imprinted all over it. The study linked above showed that Manganese was utilized by innate cells to find these remnants and record information about the virus. This information is then relayed to the rest of the immune system, which then begins creating antibodies, which provide long-term immunity to the virus and similar pathogen. This is very valuable in protection against rapidly evolving viruses such as COVID.
Manganese also plays another important role in the context of COVID infection. It is needed by the body to produce Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) an important antioxidant. It is used to break down excessive and potentially harmful oxygen molecules in our body. Oxidative stress is one of the main mechanisms in which COVID weakens our body, leading to severe symptoms and death. In studies conducted during this outbreak, Glutathione and SOD levels were indicators of a patients outlook. Those deficient in these antioxidants were very likely to suffer more from the virus.
Given the importance of Manganese in the functioning of the innate immune system, as well as in the production of SOD, it is crucial that you get your daily recommended doese. Thankfully it is quite small (2mg) and can be found in high levels in seeds, which include pulses like Kadyos (1.83mg per 100g 87%RDA) and Monggo (.6 mg per 100g 30%RDA). Chia Seeds (2.7mg per 100g 100+% RDA) are very rich in Manganese as well. Marang, a delicious and endemic Filipino fruit also contains 1.5g per 100g! (75%RDA)