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Manganese and Molybdenum

By Shaun Holt

These two minerals are often found in multivitamin preparations and a lot of people do not know what they are or what they may be useful for.

Molybdenum is a trace mineral that is found in a surprisingly large number of common foods including nuts, legumes, leafy green vegetables, milk and cheese. As with selenium, the amount of molybdenum in a plant based food depends on how much of it was in the soil that the plant grew in. Molybdenum travels from the soil, into plants and into any animals that also feed off those plants. It can also be present in water in various amounts. In the body it is stored in the liver, kidneys and bones and can also be found in the lungs, spleen, skin and muscles. 90% of the molybdenum that is eaten is excreted and the small amount that remains primarily acts as an essential helper to the many important enzymes in the body.

Only a very small amount of molybdenum is needed and most of what is eaten is not needed and is not retained by the body. Unless someone has a molybdenum deficiency there is no good reason to take a supplement of molybdenum and it can even be harmful. The most common side effect is gout and cases of gout have been seen in people who have been regularly exposed to industrial levels of the mineral. For adults, the recommended upper limit of molybdenum is 2mg/day. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is around 50mcg/day and most people consume at least twice this amount.

Manganese, another mineral found in many healthy foods including nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, is an essential element that the human body requires to continue functioning properly. Manganese is involved in many important processes in the body, including breaking down cholesterol, carbohydrates and proteins. It is also thought to be involved in the formation of bones. Unlike molybdenum however, manganese supplementation may help with certain health conditions. The maximum recommended daily dose of manganese is 11mg/day.

Osteoporosis - studies have shown that manganese, when taken with calcium, zinc and copper, can slow decreases in bone density that occur in post-menopausal women. While calcium alone can have this affect, the addition of the other elements, including manganese, seems to increase the effects obtained from the calcium.

Osteoarthritis - there is some evidence to support the use of manganese, alongside glucosamine and chondroitin, for both slowing the development of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip and also to relieve symptoms. Studies have revealed improvements in pain levels and functionality, as well as an improvement in the time taken to run a set distance! But the amount that manganese contributes towards the improvements is not known.

Manganese deficiency -this can occur and can be discovered as part of routine blood testing. Levels can be increased with either oral or intravenous manganese.