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Manganese vs. Magnesium in whole grains

Similar names but not so similar functions

Whole grains contain many different essential vitamins and minerals, like fibre, protein, magnesium, manganese and selenium.  For more information on that list click here (Whole Grains Council).   

There are 30 different essential vitamins and minerals that play an important role in keeping you and your family healthy and  your bodies functioning properly. The human body, however, does not produce these nutrients on its own, and these nutrients must be obtained through our diets.

Two of the essential nutrients found in whole grains are manganese and magnesium; two essential minerals that both play a significant role in the different cellular processes within the body. While their names may sound similar they are very different essential nutrients.

Type of mineralMicromineralMacromineral
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)Adults (19-51+): 2.3mg daily (men)1.8mg daily (women)2.0mg daily (pregnant)2.6mg daily (lactation)Adults (19-51+): 400-420mg daily (men)310-320mg daily (women)350-360mg daily (pregnant)310-320mg daily (lactation)
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (maximum daily intake)Adults (19+): 11mgAdults (19+): 350mg (from supplements)
Food sourcesMussels, hazelnuts, pecans, brown rice, soybeans, oatmeal, peas, lentils, oysters, clams, chickpeas, spinach, pineapple, whole wheat bread, and more.Nuts (almonds, peanuts cashews), soybeans, soymilk, peanut butter, beans (black and kidney), cooked spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, salmon, banana, and more.

Source: National Institute of Health and Harvard School of Public Health

The main difference that can be seen in the table is that the Daily Value is much higher for magnesium than it is for manganese. This is because manganese is a micromineral, your body only needs a small amount per day (2.3 mg/ day). In comparison, magnesium is a macromineral, your body needs hundreds of times more magnesium than manganese; 310-420 mg/day depending on age and sex (see above table).

Both minerals can be found in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and leafy vegetables. Additionally, these minerals can be harmful to your body if too much is consumed. Similarly, consuming too little of either of these minerals could lead to adverse health effects. When consumed in the right amounts, these minerals both benefit bone health, support enzyme activities and can lower the risk of diabetes.


Going more in depth, manganese helps small reactions in your body to take place which help enzymes to perform critical activities such as digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and energy production. Manganese is a main component in one key antioxidant that works to prevent cell damage playing an important role in the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Getting enough manganese on a regular basis has also been linked to other health benefits including supporting bone development, influencing blood pressure, and it plays a role in brain health. It’s best to ensure that you are getting enough manganese, as it may contribute to seizures, bones deformities, developmental delays and disruption of the menstrual cycle.

Manganese can be toxic in large amounts, be careful when taking supplements and only use manganese supplements under supervision of a healthcare professional.


Now, let’s take a closer look at magnesium, an element that is widespread throughout the human body. Magnesium triggers enzymes that produce energy to keep your muscles contracting and relaxing properly, like your heart!


Magnesium is needed in large amounts and sometimes it can be hard for individuals to meet the daily recommended intake. It can be found in different foods such as whole grains, beans, and nuts.

It is unlikely that you consume too much magnesium from food alone, however, it is more probable to see signs to too much magnesium when an individual takes magnesium supplements and various medications.

Having just enough magnesium in your body can have many health benefits such as preventing migraines, possibly protecting against depression, might reduce the risk of heart disease, and may reduce the risk of diabetes.

Getting too little magnesium has mild side effects including nausea, decreased appetite, and fatigue. But could also include more severe side effects including seizures, numbness in the limbs and abnormal heart rhythm. Whereas if you’re getting too much magnesium it can result in cardiovascular and nervous system issues

Whole grains contain many different essential vitamins and minerals, including manganese and magnesium. Make sure you include whole grains in your diet, as they are needed to keep our bodies healthy.