You probably know that your body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly. These include zinc and manganese, two minerals that are critical for many cellular processes, including activation and function of enzymes that support cellular metabolism and proper wound healing. Zinc is also essential for cell division, while manganese supports strong bones. Each day, men and women need 11 and 8 milligrams of zinc, and 2.3 and 1.8 milligrams of manganese, respectively. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, nutrients are best obtained from food, so identifying good dietary sources of these minerals can be essential for your health.
Many different foods are rich in zinc, including some plant-based foods, which can also contain moderate-to-high amounts of manganese. Many nuts fit in this category. For example, a 1-ounce serving of pecans provides 1.3 milligrams of both zinc and manganese. Peanuts are also quite rich in both minerals, with 0.55 milligrams of manganese and 1.3 milligrams of zinc per 1-ounce serving. In addition, almonds are a good source of manganese, with 0.7 milligrams per ounce, while also providing about 1 milligram of zinc per 1-ounce serving.
Some types of vegetables are especially good sources of both manganese and zinc. Several legumes fit this description, including certain beans. For example, black beans are extra rich in zinc, with 7 milligrams per 1-cup serving, and they also provide 2 milligrams of manganese in an equal amount. Adzuki beans are another good example, with almost 10 milligrams of zinc and 3.4 milligrams of manganese per cup. Some leafy vegetables are also good sources of both minerals, with 1 cup of cooked spinach containing about 1 milligram of zinc and 1.1 milligrams of manganese. Other good vegetable sources of zinc and manganese include asparagus, beets and kale.
Other foods that provide moderate-to-high amounts of both zinc and manganese include some baked goods, such as whole-wheat bagels, with about 1 milligram of zinc and 1.4 milligrams of manganese per bagel. A 1-ounce slice of whole-grain bread provides about 0.5 milligrams of both zinc and manganese. Many breakfast cereals are also rich in both minerals. For example, a 1-cup serving of home-made granola can contain as much as 5 milligrams of both zinc and manganese, while most commercially prepared cereals are fortified with a significant portion of each day's requirement of both minerals
If your diet is deficient in either zinc or manganese, this can cause potentially serious health problems. A diet low in zinc or manganese can cause poor growth in babies and children, and reproductive problems in both men and women. Not getting enough zinc can cause slow healing of cuts and other wounds, weight loss and poor energy levels, while low manganese intake may cause bone abnormalities and problems metabolizing carbohydrates and fats. If you have questions about the zinc and manganese content of your diet, discuss them with a registered dietitian or your doctor.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Zinc and Manganese Content of Foods
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Pecans
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanuts, Virginia, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Zinc and Manganese Content, Vegetables and Vegetable Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Zinc and Manganese Content, Baked Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Zinc and Manganese Content, Breakfast Cereals
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010