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Manganese for Kids

Not to be confused with magnesium, manganese is a trace element that our body uses for things like bone health and immune function (1). Because it is a trace element, our kids do not need much of it to be healthy.

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What does manganese do?

Manganese works with enzymes to help with the metabolism of our macronutrients (carbohydrate, proteins, and fats). It can also act as an anti-oxidant and is involved with our immune system. Like calcium, it is also involved in bone formation. Lastly, it works with vitamin K to help with blood clotting (1).

Where can you get manganese?

Many different foods contain manganese. Some examples include whole grains (such as brown rice, oatmeal, or whole-wheat bread), shellfish (such as clams or oysters), nuts, legumes (such as soy or lentils), leafy vegetables (such as spinach or kale), fruits (such as pineapple or blueberries), tea, and even some spices (such as black pepper) (2). If you are concerned about your child getting enough manganese in their diet, then you have many options from which to choose.

Recommended Intakes

Like many other micronutrients, the recommended intakes are based on the adequate intake (AI). The AI is assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy and is established when there is not enough evidence to develop the recommended dietary allowance (the amount to meet 97-98% of the population) (1). For infants 0-12 months, the recommended amounts are based on the amounts in breastmilk (1).

AgeRecommended Amount
0-6 months0.003 mcg
7-12 months0.6 mcg
1-3 years1.2 mcg
4-8 years1.5 mcg
9-13 years1.6 mcg (female), 1.9 mcg (male)
per the National Institute of Health (1)

What happens if you don’t get enough?

Deficiency is very rare so therefore symptoms haven’t been established. It’s possible that it could cause bone demineralization and poor growth in children, however there is very limited evidence.

Can you get too much?

It is unlikely that your child would get too much manganese from diet alone. However, there has been toxicity shown in people working in welding and mining who were exposed to chronic inhalation of manganese dust. High levels of manganese in water (28 mg/L) have also led to manganese toxicity (1).

Iron deficiency can increase manganese absorption and exacerbate symptoms.

Manganese Rich Foods for Kids

  • apples
  • asparagus
  • beef
  • black pepper
  • blueberries
  • bread
  • chicken
  • chickpeas
  • clams
  • egg
  • hazelnuts
  • kale
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • lettuce
  • milk
  • mussels
  • oatmeal
  • oysters
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pineapple
  • potato
  • rice
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • spinach
  • squash
  • tuna
  • yogurt

While not recommended for kids, coffee and tea are also a source of manganese.

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