Manganese is a pinkish-gray, chemically active element. It is a hard and very brittle metal that is difficult to melt but easily oxidized. Manganese is active when it is clean and as a powder, it burns in the presence of oxygen, reacts with water (rusts like Iron), and dissolves in dilute acids. Manganese is one of the most abundant metals in the soil, where it occurs in the form of oxides and hydroxides.
Applications of Manganese
Manganese is essential for the production of iron and steel. Manganese is an essential component of low-cost stainless-steel alloys and some aluminum alloys. Manganese and its alloys are used in the manufacture of batteries, welding rods, and refractory materials. Manganese dioxide is used as a catalyst. Manganese is used to discolor glass and make purple glass. Potassium permanganate is used as a disinfectant.
Manganese in the environment
Manganese is a key element for all types of organisms. Some organisms such as diatoms, molluscs, and sponges accumulate manganese. Fish can accumulate up to 5 ppm and mammals up to 3 ppm Manganese in their tissues, although they usually have about 1 ppm.
How can Manganese affect health?
Manganese is one of the three toxic essential trace elements, which means that not only is it essential for the survival of the human organism, but it can also be toxic at a high concentration in the human body.
Manganese is a key cofactor for various enzymes, including superoxide dismutase and enzymes pyruvate carboxylase and isocitric dehydrogenase. It circulates in the serum bound to various proteins as a metalloprotein complex. The +2 and +3 valence states are the ones that are of biological importance.
Human intake of manganese is mainly through food. Foods containing the highest concentrations of manganese are cereals, rice, soy, eggs, nuts, olive oil, green beans, spinach, tea, some herbs, and oysters. Upon absorption, manganese is transported through the blood to the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and endocrine glands. The required daily dose ranges from 1 to 6 mg and is relatively easily provided through a standard diet containing several different fruits and vegetables. The half-life of manganese in the body is approximately 40 days, with removal mainly through the faeces. Only small amounts are excreted in the urine.
Toxic phenomena due to manganese occur mainly in the respiratory tract and in the brain. Symptoms of manganese intoxication are hallucinations, memory loss, and nerve damage. Manganese can also cause Parkinson's disease (or a pathological condition that is very similar to typical Parkinson's disease), pulmonary embolism, bronchitis, and impotence in men. Chronic manganese intoxication (manganism) exhibits symptoms such as schizophrenia, drowsiness, weak muscles, headaches, and insomnia.
Chronic Manganese poisoning may be due to prolonged inhalation of dust and fumes. The central nervous system is the major area of injury, which can lead to permanent disability. Symptoms include drowsiness, lethargy, weakness, emotional disorders, spastic gait, recurrent leg cramps, and paralysis. A high incidence of pneumonia and other upper respiratory infections has been identified in workers exposed to dust or fumes of Manganese compounds.
As Manganese is a key element of human health, its deficiency can also have adverse health effects, such as:
- Diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance
- Blood clotting disorders
- Skin problems
- Low cholesterol levels
- Bone disorders
- Changes in hair color
- Neurological symptoms
Elevated levels of Manganese in the blood, with and without CNS symptoms, have been reported in patients with hepatitis B virus-induced cirrhosis, in patients with total parenteral nutrition and in manganese supplementation, and in infants born by mothers with total parenteral nutrition.
Behcet's disease, a form of chronic systemic vasculitis, has been reported to exhibit a 4-fold increase in erythrocyte manganese, and it has been suggested that increased superoxide dismutase activity may contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease.
How can one determine if one receives the correct amount, or has been exposed to high concentrations of Manganese?
We can measure Manganese levels in the blood and most biological materials. The main compartment for Manganese circulation is erythrocytes bound to hemoglobin, with its concentrations in whole blood (in patients with normal levels) being 10 times that of serum.
Determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry), a method that enables the simultaneous detection of many metals. Its sensitivity and accuracy are significantly better than conventional atomic absorption, with the ability to measure metals at concentrations up to 1 in 1015 (1 in 1 quadrillion, ppq)!
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.