Manganese and Health
Manganese is a metallic mineral that was discovered by a 17th century German chemist named Johann Glauber, though it was not isolated in a pure form until 1774, by Johan Gahn. It was Gahn's associate, a Swedish chemist, Carl Scheele, who first determined that manganese was an element. Manganese, as a trace mineral element, is found in all forms of life. It is essential to the health and functioning of the human body and mind in many ways.
In terms of physical health, the mineral manganese is important to almost all of the body's major systems. It works in the digestive system, which is responsible for breaking down foods through digestion and transforming them into a form that the body can use. Primary functions in the digestive system include acting as a cofactor in many of the enzymes responsible for releasing the energy in food, making it accessible to both body and mind to fuel the essential and nonessential functions. Thiamin, or Vitamin B1 cannot be metabolized without the presence of this essential mineral. The skeletal system requires manganese for the building of strong and healthy bones. Without it, the skeleton may not develop properly. Manganese also serves the nervous system and brain, which send messages to the muscles and thus, the mineral supports good muscular reflexes. It also serves the reproductive system, having an important role in the production of sex hormones and sperm.
Manganese has vital antioxidant properties, working as a cofactor in the production of the body's most important antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Antioxidants perform a task that is essential to the body, the control of or stabilization of free radicals, which are responsible for a great deal of damage within the body. Free radicals are destabilized by their lack of an electron, and in seeking to stabilize themselves, they attack other molecules in an effort to take what they need from them, which results in those molecules becoming destabilized as well. If a cell accumulates enough free radicals, cellular damage can occur, which can lead to tissue damage as the free radicals roam, increasing their population.
Manganese is necessary for the brain to function properly. It serves to support memory and emotional stability, as well as the nerves themselves. Researchers are studying the relationship between epilepsy and other seizure disorders and the influence manganese levels may have on seizure activity and severity. This mineral is also being investigated for its potentials in the treatment of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
Deficiencies in manganese can contribute to convulsions, confusion, tremors, dizziness, paralysis, deafness and blindness in infants, adult hearing loss, digestive disorders, ataxia, bone malformation, general weakness, infertility, irregular pulse, and pancreatic damage.
Nutritional supplements offer a reliable and safe means of seeing to it that the diet contains adequate amounts of this essential trace mineral, provided supplement dosage remains within the standard recommended daily intake levels. Too much of any nutrient can do physical harm to the body and thus, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the nutritional needs of your body and the supplement you are considering for use.
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