Manganese is a trace element that is essential to the human body in, you guessed it, trace amounts.
The human body cannot produce manganese naturally (hence the term “essential”), but it plays a key role in a host of natural processes—including amino acid, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrate metabolism; bone formation; reproduction; immune response; and more. It is also thought to affect thyroid hormone levels and the neurotransmitter dopamine, though evidence suggests these effects are dose-dependent2 and that further research needs to be done on the subject.
Manganese is another nutrient you probably don’t even realize you’re consuming day to day. Foods containing various amounts of manganese include some seafood (muscles, clams, shrimp, etc.), grains, legumes, starches (potato skins, specifically), nuts, dairy, and more.