In March 2013, Scientists discovered that the pathogen that causes Lyme disease can exist without iron, a metal that all other life needs to make proteins and enzymes. Instead of iron, the bacteria substitutes manganese to make an essential enzyme which eludes the immune system. Borrelia is the first known organism to live without iron. Most pathogens utilize iron, but not Borrelia burgdorferi. It requires unusually high levels of manganese instead. Sneaky little devils!
What is Manganese?
Manganese is a trace mineral that participates in many enzyme systems in the body. It was first considered an essential nutrient in 1931. Researchers discovered that experimental animals fed a diet deficient in manganese demonstrated poor growth and impaired reproduction. Manganese is found widely in nature, but occurs only in trace amounts in human tissues. The human body contains a total of 15-20 milligrams of manganese, most of which is located in the bones, with the remainder found in the kidneys, liver, pancreas, pituitary glands, and adrenal glands.
What Role Does it Play in The Body?
Manganese helps the body maintain proper blood sugar levels, aids in production of collagen for tissue repair, which happens to be a favorite food of Borrelia. It's required for the nervous system to function properly (including the brain). Manganese activates the enzymes responsible for the utilization of several key nutrients including biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline. It is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and may also participate in the production of sex hormones and maintaining reproductive health.
In addition, manganese activates the enzymes known as glycolsyltranserferases and xylosyltransferases, which are important in the formation of bone. It has also been theorized that manganese is involved in the production of the thyroid hormone known as thyroxine and in maintaining the health of nerve tissue.
Should I Avoid Manganese if Lyme Thrives Off of it?
No! The Lyme bacteria will continue to find manganese one way or another, even when deficiency symptoms have manifested in the human body. If the bacteria continues to deplete manganese, it's best to make sure the body is receiving an adequate supply of manganese and other essential nutrients for survival. The goal is to support the human body with the nutrients it needs to heal and not to deliberately deprive yourself of, which could actually do more harm than good.
Symptoms of Manganese Deficiency
Manganese deficiency is associated with nausea, vomiting, poor glucose tolerance (high blood sugar levels), skin rash, loss of hair color, excessive bone loss, low cholesterol levels, dizziness, hearing loss, and compromised function of the reproductive system. Severe manganese deficiency in infants can cause paralysis, convulsions, blindness, and deafness.
Manganese deficiency is very rare in humans, and does not usually develop unless manganese is deliberately eliminated from the diet or where Lyme is present.
Amazingly, the most depleted minerals in our Lyme patients are often copper, magnesium, manganese (in Lyme) and iron (in Babesiosis). Dr. Klinghardt - interview with Dr. Mercola - August 4, 2009
How Much Should I Take?
In 2000, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences established the following Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for manganese:
Infants: not established (no supplemental manganese should be given)
1-3 years: 2 milligrams
4-8 years: 3 milligrams
9-13 years: 6 milligrams
14-18 years, including pregnant and lactating women: 9 milligrams
Greater than 19 years, including pregnant and lactating women: 11 milligrams
Manganese, like most things can be toxic if taken at high doses. Before you supplement, please speak to your healthcare provider & consider testing your levels.