You would be forgiven for mistaking these two. Even the world’s best physicians and scientists can’t help but confuse them occasionally. After all, one has the chemical symbol Mn and the other Mg.

Manganese and magnesium are two completely different entities. Their similarities most likely end at being chemical elements. However, when it comes to their sources and benefits, these two are as different as a pit bull is from a coyote. Want to learn about how different these two guys are and how they could each help you? Keep reading to find out.

What is Magnesium

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the 12th element on the periodic table and the lightest structural metal known to man. This alkaline earth metal is one of the essential micronutrients needed for various functions in the body.

Magnesium is primarily needed for various enzymatic processes in the body. This micronutrient supports the bone, muscle and nerve function, immune system functions and assists in heart rate regulation.

The body contains very low amounts of magnesium (about 25g). However, more than half of that amount is found in bones. Body fluids, muscles and tissues hold the rest.

Many people fail to get the required intake of magnesium through their diet. Luckily, deficiency symptoms are rarely seen. However, these symptoms can be severe and life-threatening when they manifest.

Manganese Foods

What is Manganese?

Like magnesium, manganese is a metal. It is element number 25 on the periodic table and is regarded as a rare earth metal. In the body, manganese is needed only in small amounts. However, it is one of the most vital micronutrients.

Manganese has several metabolic roles in the body. It is essential for breaking down amino acids, carbohydrates, and fats; it is an essential nutrient in the blood clotting cascade. In addition, it is essential in bone development and reduces inflammation. Manganese is also a cofactor in several enzymatic steps.

Manganese is found only in trace amounts in the body. However, the major stores include the liver, pancreas, bones, kidneys, and brain. Most people get enough manganese intake through their diet, making cases of deficiencies rare. However, the manifestation of a deficiency can be lethal.

Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is one of seven essential minerals and has numerous benefits when taken optimally.

1. Bone Health: Along with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium is one of the essential nutrients in healthy bone formation. Scientific studies have linked higher magnesium intake to the development of denser bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

2. Cardiovascular Health: Magnesium is vital in regulating the contraction mechanism of the heart muscles. Adequate magnesium is needed for the heart to contract at the levels required to pump blood optimally.

Studies have linked magnesium deficiency to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems like congestive heart failure.

3. Pregnancy: Magnesium is a vital nutrient during the pregnancy process. Its deficiency is associated with varying complications for both mother and baby, including preterm birth and increased risk for hypertension.

Magnesium is used to treat a life-threatening complication known as pre-preeclampsia that occurs in pregnant women at term.

4. Resolving migraine headaches

5. Reducing premenstrual symptoms

6. Treating anxiety and depression

7. Reducing the risk for diabetes

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is essential for the body. Although most people rarely get the required amount of dietary magnesium, deficiencies are rare and are commonly associated with; 

  • kidney disease
  • Digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease
  • Parathyroid disorders
  • Use of certain medications like antidiabetics
  • Alcohol abuse

The symptoms associated with a deficiency of magnesium include;

(Mild symptoms)

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue 

(Severe symptoms)

  • muscle cramps
  • numbness
  • tingling sensations
  • seizures
  • personality changes
  • heart rhythm changes or spasms

Benefits of Manganese

Unlike magnesium needed in relatively larger quantities, manganese is a trace nutrient that the body requires less than 100mg daily. Some important health benefits of manganese include;

  1. Supporting Bone Health: Manganese is essential for supporting bone health in the presence of other nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Studies have noted improved bone density in older adults who take higher amounts of magnesium. In addition, manganese intake reduces the possibility of developing osteoporosis in older adults.
  2. Reduces risk for heart diseases: Manganese is part of the antioxidant complex superoxide dismutase (SOD) that protects against disease-causing free radicals. Studies have linked lower levels of SOD to an increased risk of heart disease. Thus, having enough manganese fuels SOD production and cardiovascular risk reduction.
  3. Helps reduce inflammation
  4. Regulates blood sugar
  5. Reduces risk for epileptic seizures
  6. May reduce postmenstrual symptoms.
  7. Essential in the wound healing cascade

Manganese Deficiency

Typically, manganese is taken in adequate amounts through diet, and deficiency is rare. A manganese deficiency may be caused by;

  • High concentration of luminal fat
  • High intake of calcium interfering with manganese absorption
  • Constant consumption of processed foods
  • Certain diseases and medications that affect manganese absorption and excretion

The manifesting symptoms of manganese deficiency include;

  • changes in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat
  • skeletal or bone abnormalities
  • poor bone growth or skeletal defects
  • slow or impaired growth
  • low fertility
  • impaired glucose tolerance, a state between normal glucose maintenance and diabetes

Sources of Magnesium and Manganese

Manganese and magnesium may be obtained through a variety of dietary sources. The table below shows the common dietary sources of both nutrients and the amount contained in each source.

Sources of Magnesium and Manganese

Magnesium Supplements: Types and Uses

A largely Western diet prevents most people from getting the required daily magnesium intake through their diet. Thus, to avoid developing magnesium deficiencies, these people have to get magnesium through different means, i.e., supplements.

Magnesium supplements are of different types, each having unique properties and limitations. In addition, each magnesium supplement can vary in terms of its; uses, bioavailability and side effects.

The commonly available types of magnesium supplements include

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is a compound of magnesium and the amino acid glycine. This magnesium type has high bioavailability and low side effects, making it an excellent choice for people who require high magnesium doses.

Magnesium glycinate is commonly used to treat magnesium deficiencies. It may also be used for treating hyperacidity and symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide is a common form of magnesium found in antacids. Magnesium oxide is also widely offered as a supplement, effective in supporting bone health, promoting muscle recovery, relieving migraines etc.

Magnesium oxide has a lower bioavailability than most other forms of magnesium, but the side effects are tolerable.

Magnesium lactate

This is a compound of magnesium and lactic acid. Magnesium lactate absorbs well from the gut but may not be tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.

Magnesium lactate is a widely offered supplement used to support the cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems.

Magnesium malate

Magnesium malate is highly bioavailable and varyingly tolerated. Studies in animals indicate that it is the fastest absorbed magnesium supplement, while human studies have linked it to digestive side effects.

It is offered as a dietary supplement to improve mood, control blood sugar, enhance exercise performance, and treat chronic pain.

Magnesium citrate 

Magnesium citrate is the most popular form of magnesium seen in supplements. It is also the easiest form of magnesium absorbed by the body.

It is widely used as a supplement to treat deficiency, and improve nerve function, heart health and bone health. It may also be used to treat constipation.

Popular magnesium supplements to get on the market include;

Manganese Supplements: Types and Uses

A vegan diet is almost guaranteed to deliver the recommended daily manganese intake. Supplements are not particularly required since this nutrient is needed in very small quantities.

However, for those suffering from chronic deficiencies, they may get manganese supplements in any of their available forms, including;

  • Manganese gluconate
  • Manganese sulfate; and
  • Manganese ascorbate

Manganese supplements usually combine with other essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D etc.

RDA and Dosage of Magnesium and Manganese

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium and manganese varies with age. The table below shows the RDA for different age groups.

 MAGNESIUMMANGANESE
Age GroupRDA male (mg)RDA female (mg)RDA male (mg)RDA female (mg)
1-3 years80 800.60.6
4-8 years1301301.21.2
9-13 years2402401.51.5
14-18 years4103601.91.6
19-30 years4003102.21.6
31-50 years4203202.31.8
Above 50 years4203202.31.8

The dosage of magnesium and manganese in different conditions may also vary. The table below provides the adult dosage of these supplements when treating some common conditions.

Condition Based MG and MN Treatment

Excess Intake and Toxicity

Magnesium overdose through a dietary source is highly unlikely since the body rids itself of the excess.

Excessive intake through supplements can cause effects like diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps.

More severe overdose on magnesium can lead to kidney problems, low blood pressure, urine retention, nausea and vomiting, depression, lethargy, a loss of central nervous system (CNS) control, cardiac arrest, and possibly death.

The upper limit for manganese intake is 11mg. However, consuming excessive manganese in healthy persons may not be problematic since the kidneys excrete the excess.

However, in persons with impaired kidney function or persons exposed to inhalational manganese, bioaccumulation of manganese can cause problems to the lungs, kidneys, liver and central nervous system.

Magnesium vs. Manganese: What is the Difference?

Both nutrients differ based on their intake and benefits. While magnesium needs to be taken in relatively larger amounts, the body only needs a trace amount of manganese.

Both nutrients are beneficial to many body processes. However, magnesium seems to have more stand-alone benefits than manganese, which usually needs other nutrients like zinc or calcium to elicit its effects.

Both nutrients are obtained from dietary sources. However, magnesium is obtained more from vegan diets, while manganese is obtained richly from plant and animal sources.

Effects on Bodybuilding Bodybuilder

Effects on Bodybuilding

Both magnesium and manganese are highly beneficial in the bodybuilding process.

Magnesium helps with energy, muscle strength, flexibility, sleep and stress management, helping you develop a sharp mind and body required for workouts. Magnesium’s effect on the muscle means that muscle cramps and tears heal faster, and you can put in more work with this quicker recovery. Its effect on nervous functioning means you feel less pain and have more improved coordination and flexibility in workouts. Magnesium also strengthens the bones that lie beneath your muscle. Combining strengthened bones and strengthened, quick-healing muscles is essential for workout progress. Magnesium also supports heart health and glucose control. These are two vital aspects of bodybuilding and exercise. A healthy heart means you’re better able to engage in your sessions, and optimal glucose control means you don’t run the risk of hypoglycemia and fatigue during workouts.

Although not much research has studied the effect of manganese on bodybuilding, this nutrient is still suggested to hold some benefit. Manganese is an important component of most enzymatic processes, including protein synthesis needed for muscle growth, blood formation, improved cardiovascular function and superoxide dismutase formation, an antioxidant that promotes the cardiovascular and other body systems. Thus, adequate manganese intake could provide the necessary fuel required to drive workouts and build muscle.

Take Away

Manganese and magnesium have more similarities than differences. These nutrients are vital for the body (albeit in varying amounts) and have massive benefits in various processes and even bodybuilding.

Incorporate foods rich in these nutrients into your diet, and be sure to speak to your doctor about any supplements you want to commence.

References

12 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium

Why do we need magnesium?

10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Manganese

Manganese: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

Magnesium

Manganese vs. Magnesium: What’s the Difference?

What are the benefits and effects of manganese?

Types of magnesium supplements and their benefits

Magnesium Dosage: How Much Should You Take per Day?