Manganese “The Element of Life”

Although the metal Manganese is gray in color in its pure form, the Incas called the reddish gemstone, rhodochrosite, Inca Rose, believing that this Manganese and carbonate-based substance was the blood of their former kings and queens turned to stone. Perhaps they had a clue as to how essential Manganese is to all living organisms.

Arden Anderson, doctor, farmer, and author of “Science in Agriculture,” long ago made the connection between nutrient-dense foods grown in mineral rich soils and the health benefits they offer us. He suggests Manganese provides the electrical charge that draws other elements into the seed. There is an atom of Manganese at the center of the germ of every seed and Manganese is necessary for reproduction through the formation of healthy seeds.

Manganese plays a very crucial role in plants and is necessary in nitrogen metabolism, photosynthesis, and the formation of other compounds required for plant metabolism. It also acts as an activator for more than 35 different enzymes. Manganese is a synergist with iron. They work together and need each other. An example of this interdependence is that high levels of available iron in the soil can limit the uptake of Manganese.

Manganese, proposed to be an element by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1774, was actually discovered by the Swedish chemist Johan Gottlieb Gahn when he heated the mineral pyrolusite (MnO2) in the presence of charcoal. Today, Manganese for agricultural use is obtained from pyrolusite by treating it with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to form manganese sulfate (MnSO4), which is then electrolyzed.

Manganese is essential to all plants. However, certain crops have been found to be especially responsive to adequate levels of Manganese such as beets, cauliflower, citrus, lettuce, onions, potatoes, spinach, sweet corn, small grains, large-seeded legumes, alfalfa, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, and tobacco.

Manganese is not translocated in the plant so deficiency symptoms appear first on younger leaves. Interveinal chlorosis is the most common symptom and in severe cases, a series of brownish-black specks appear in the affected areas with eventual premature leaf drop. Delayed maturity is another deficiency symptom in some species. Manganese deficiency is prevalent in calcareous soils, high pH soils, and soils with excessive levels of organic matter. Excessive levels of Calcium and Magnesium can also interfere with Manganese uptake.

Manganese toxicity can become a problem in soils deficient in Copper and Zinc. The late John Mark Purdey, an organic farmer and brilliant researcher, found that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease, are directly correlated with soils very low in Copper and Zinc in combination with high levels of Manganese. In this worldwide study, he discovered that BSE and CWD may not be the result of viral infections but the result of a mineral imbalance.

Both animals and humans require Manganese. In humans, Manganese activates the enzymes necessary for the body to use biotin, thiamine (B1), vitamin C, and choline. It’s also needed for healthy nerves, immune system function, blood sugar regulation, formation of mother’s milk, and the growth of healthy bones. Deficiency may lead to trembling hands, seizures, and lack of coordination. Manganese is a co-factor for an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), an antioxidant associated with protection against free radical damage. Conditions marked by increased free radical damage to cells and tissue have been linked to diets low in manganese. In animal nutrition, an excess of manganese increases the need for iron, and a manganese deficiency results in leg deformities in calves, eggs not formed correctly, degeneration of testicles, offspring born dead, and delayed heat periods. An excess of calcium and phosphorus may lead to a manganese deficiency.

It is quite clear that animals and human beings need adequate levels of Manganese. For this to occur, it must be in the soil in adequate levels and in optimum balance with Sulfur, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Boron, Iron, copper, and Zinc. For all of this to work and result in maximum animal and human nutrition, trace elements such as Chromium, Cobalt, Iodine, molybdenum, Selenium, Tin, Vanadium, Nickel, and Fluorine must also be present in tiny amounts. Deficiencies in these trace minerals can also be problematic but that’s a different story for another time.

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Walters, Charles, and C. J. Fenzau. Eco-Farm. Acres USA, 1996. Print.
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DVM. Skow, Dan, and Charles Walters. Mainline Farming for Century 21. Acres USA, 1995. Print.
Fallon, Sally, with Mary Enig. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends, 2001. Print.

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