Manganese vs. Magnesium: The Ultimate Showdown!

  • By Performance Lab
  • 6 minute read
Manganese vs. Magnesium: The Ultimate Showdown!

Magnesium (Mg) and manganese (Mn) are both essential nutrients critical for optimal health and performance. Magnesium is considered a micromineral, as it’s needed in larger quantities, whereas manganese is a micronutrient, needed in only small amounts.

Whether for muscle relaxation, nerve health, blood clotting, or connective tissue health, it’s not about which one but how much of both. With similar names, it can be easy to confuse magnesium and manganese.

But apart from that, there’s little in the way of functional similarities between the two. They’re both essential for optimal health and performance, but their functions, intake requirements, and deficiency symptoms are all drastically different.

Wondering which one is more important? The answer is neither—they’re both essential in their own ways. If you’re not familiar with either, we’re covering the basics of manganese vs magnesium: what they are, what they do, and how much your body requires.

We'll also dive deeper into our top pick for a magnesium and manganese supplement! Heads up: it's Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi!

What Is Magnesium And Why Is It Important?

Chances are you’ve heard about magnesium—it’s an essential mineral found in all cells of the human body that’s required in specific doses for optimal performance.

Roughly 60% of magnesium is found within bones, while the remaining 40% is dispersed through muscles, soft tissues, and various body fluids such as blood 1.

But why is magnesium so important and what are the health benefits?

It is a cofactor for over 300 enzymatic reactions, primarily those involved in energy metabolism and the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s primary energy source 2. As such, sufficient magnesium levels are essential for virtually all systems in the body.

But one of its best-known roles magnesium plays is as a calcium antagonist; magnesium counteracts the action of calcium on muscles to support contraction and relaxation. This is why magnesium is often prescribed for muscle tension and relaxation.

Still, this role is important for regulating blood pressure, insulin metabolism, cardiac excitability, vasomotor tone, nerve transmission, and more.

Need a summary? Here’s a breakdown of what magnesium is involved in 3:

  • Muscle function
  • Nerve conduction and transmission
  • Energy production
  • Regulating heart rhythm
  • Bone formation
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Blood pressure
  • DNA and RNA synthesis

But despite how critical magnesium is in normal physiological function, most people don’t get enough. It’s estimated that more than 50% of the adult U.S. population doesn’t meet their daily requirements 4.

And while deficiency signs and symptoms aren’t as apparent as they may be with other nutrients, it’s easy to have your levels tested to determine your status.

Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is a big problem that’s often overlooked. Because the symptoms can be rather general and magnesium levels aren’t frequently tested, most people aren’t even aware they’re deficient.

Red blood cell magnesium levels accurately represent magnesium status, as low serum levels cause magnesium to be pulled from cells to maintain levels within a normal range 4. As a result, magnesium blood levels can show as normal, but a red blood cell test may suggest magnesium deficiencies.

If you’re dealing with a magnesium deficiency, watch out for these signs and symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Depression
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Seizures
  • Low calcium or potassium
  • Central nervous system irregularities

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

Magnesium is widely available in all sorts of natural foods, such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and green leafy vegetables, so meeting your requirements shouldn’t be tricky.

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But the problem is that most modern-day diets are low in magnesium-rich foods, which means magnesium supplements are the alternative.

The recommended daily magnesium intake is 400–420 mg for men and 320–360 mg for women, which is easy to achieve with a trusted supplement like Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi.

Under normal circumstances, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in the United States recommends no more than 350 mg per day for magnesium supplements 5–but what kind do you choose?

Certain types of magnesium are better absorbed than others, but generally speaking, you’ll find several types 5, 6:

  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium taurate
  • Magnesium bisglycinate
  • Magnesium lactate

If you’re not keen on dealing with GI effects like diarrhea, stay away from magnesium oxide, as high doses can have laxative effects.


The Basics Of Manganese And Why We Need It

Now that we’ve covered magnesium's basics, let’s talk about another similar-sounding mineral, manganese.

We don’t often hear much about this trace mineral, but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s required for several critical functions, including 8-10:

  • Nutrient absorption
  • Digestive enzyme production
  • Bone development
  • Immune defenses
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • Antioxidant production (superoxide dismutase)
  • Energy production

Although the human body stores about 20 mg of manganese in your kidneys, liver, pancreas, and bones, it’s widely available in the diet.

You’ll find manganese in plenty of food sources, such as sprouted grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and in smaller quantities in certain fruits and vegetables.

But what’s interesting about manganese is that because it works with iron—iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen - you’ll often find iron alongside manganese.

Manganese deficiency signs and symptoms because manganese is widely dispersed in all sorts of food, deficiency is relatively rare—but it does happen, and it can cause serious health risks, including bone loss, muscle and joint pain, and mood changes.

In most cases, lack of dietary intake from manganese-rich foods is the reason for a deficiency, but it can sometimes result from digestive disorders that impair absorption.

Manganese levels in the body are tightly regulated, which means manganese levels typically remain pretty stable. But if you think you might be consuming too little magnesium, here are the most common signs and symptoms:

  • Osteoporosis or weak bones
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Weakened immunity
  • Heightened PMS (menstrual cycle) symptoms
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Impaired glucose sensitivity
  • Digestion and appetite changes Infertility

Only about 1-5% of dietary manganese is absorbed in humans, and the rest is rapidly moved to the gut via bile and excreted 10-12.

So, for anyone dealing with liver, gut, or digestive issues, the inability to properly excrete manganese can be highly problematic—and too much manganese (i.e., manganese toxicity) poses more of a threat than too little.

That's why getting the dose right in manganese supplements is critical '

How Much Manganese Do You Need?

There are no standard recommended dietary allowances for manganese, but adequate intake (AI) values are used to guide how much we need to consume daily.

The AI for adult men and women is 2.3 and 1.8 mg/day, respectively, with a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of 11 mg/day 12.

The recommended manganese intake amounts vary based on gender and age:


  • Infants up to 6 months: 3 mcg/day
  • 7 to 12 months: 0.6 mg/day
  • 1 to 3 years: 1.2 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 1.5 mg/day
  • Boys 9 to 13 years: 1.9 mg/day
  • Boys 14 to 18 years: 2.2 mg/day
  • Girls 9 to 18 years: 1.6 mg/day


  • Men aged 19 years and older: 2.3 mg/day
  • Women aged 19 years and older: 1.8 mg/day
  • Pregnant women aged 14 years and older: 2 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding women: 2.6 mg/day

Manganese vs Magnesium: Which Is Better?

When looking at manganese vs magnesium, you’re not comparing apples to apples—both are essential nutrients and must be part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Although manganese and magnesium have a wide range of unique functions, they also have many similarities, such as promoting healthy bones, energy production, and enzyme activity.

And while you may need substantially more magnesium than you do manganese, too little or too much or either can result in side effects that range in severity.

So, if you want to ensure your needs are met without going overboard, consider investing in Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi—its precision doses of the most bioavailable nutrient forms catered to men’s and women’s specific needs.


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  12. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 10, Manganese. Available from: