Is Acai’s High Manganese Content a Problem?

March 3, 2014

Acai pulp has desirable amounts of iron and other minerals-but maybe too much manganese.

While analyzing the mineral content of acai pulp, Brazilian researchers discovered that acai is extremely rich in manganese-so much so that it may have potential for adverse health effects.

In the study on freeze-dried acai pulp from various harvests in São Paulo, researchers recorded desirable levels of calcium, iron, and zinc. But a mere 300 ml of acai was enough, they say, to put an adult at least six-fold above the reference daily intake for manganese. Many Brazilians likely consume this much acai on a daily basis.

Manganese is still useful for purposes including but not limited to skin health and blood sugar control, but the researchers say excess manganese may have adverse effects on the brain, “leading to a set of symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease (manganism).” Manganese can also deplete iron, because the two elements compete for the same carriers in the body. Despite the scares, the researchers admit the jury is still out on whether high manganese intake is a legitimate health concern.

“Our research group is now working on understanding the chemical forms of manganese in acai berry, bioavailability of its compounds, and its interaction with other minerals such as iron,” the researchers said.

Curiously, FDA has not established a formal recommended daily intake for manganese.

Acai scored quite high for amounts of copper, but the researchers didn’t address this further.

 

Robby Gardner

Associate Editor

Nutritional Outlook magazine

robby.gardner@ubm.com