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How much do you know? By Milan Frohlich, MSc., A.Sc.T., R&D Scientist Akuna Regulatory Affairs Coordinator

We have all heard at some point or another that minerals are important to our health.  However, not all of us are sure of why this is the case.  This lack of information may be a factor why an estimated 90% of North Americans suffer from a mineral deficiency or imbalance. 

Thanks to the extensive research conducted regarding the relationship between minerals and our health, it has become evident that sustaining a balanced level of minerals in every organ, tissue and cell of the human body may be prominent key to maintaining a healthy existence.  Unfortunately in today’s world, naturally occurring, nutrient-rich foods are becoming a thing of the past.  Fortunately, thanks to all this research and development, we can turn to nutritional supplements to support our health.

We tend to hear a lot about minerals such as calcium and magnesium but are often not familiar with the importance of some of these minerals which our bodies also require.  Trace minerals or trace elements are generally, uncommon minerals that practically all organisms need in minute quantities in order to trigger the production of enzymes and hormones for growth, reproduction and health maintenance of the animal or plant body. 

Nutritionally speaking, trace minerals by definition are those which are required by the human body in micro amount, i.e. in 100 milligrams (mg) dosages per day, or less.

Below is a closer look at three trace minerals, their function and their importance to the human body.

Manganese

The natural importance of manganese was discovered in 1936-37, when researches reported the development of bony malformation in poultry fed on a manganese-free diet.  Later studies also demonstrated the relationship of manganese to growth, bone development, reproduction, and the functioning of the central nervous system.

Manganese is an essential trace nutrient in all forms of life.  The human body contains about 10 to 20 mg of manganese, which is widely distributed throughout the tissues, stored mainly in liver and kidneys.  It plays an important role in a number of physiological processes as a constituent of some enzymes and an activator of their enzymes which are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  In combination with choline, it helps in the digestion and utilization of fat.

Manganese helps to nourish the nerves and brain and assist in the proper coordinative action between the brain, nerves and muscles in every part of the body.  It is also involved in normal reproduction and function of mammary glands.

On the other hand, manganese deficiency has been observed in a number of animal species.  Signs of manganese deficiency include impaired growth, impaired reproductive function, skeletal abnormalities, impaired glucose tolerance, and altered carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.  In humans, demonstration of a manganese deficiency syndrome has been less clear. 

A child on long-term total parenteral nutrition (fed intravenously) lacking manganese developed bone demineralization and impaired growth that were corrected by manganese supplementation.  However, the human body obtains sufficient manganese through normal dietary intake, so a deficiency syndrome is rare. 

It has been documented that women with osteoporosis have increased plasma levels of manganese and also an enhanced plasma response to an oral dose of manganese. Estimated average dietary manganese intakes range from 2.1 – 2.3 mg/day for men and 1.6 – 1.8 mg/day for women. 

People eating vegetarian diets and western diets emphasizing whole grains may have manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, and teas.  Foods high in phytic acid, such as beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and soy products, or foods high in oxalic acid, such as cabbage, spinach, and sweet potatoes, may slightly inhibit manganese absorption.

 

To be continued…

 

Until next time…Stay healthy

Katarzyna

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