Manganese is a mineral that is found in several foods including nuts, legumes, seeds, tea, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. It is considered an essential nutrient because the body requires it to function properly. People use manganese as medicine. Manganese supports normal health in several ways. It is a cofactor that helps enzymes carry out their functions in the body. Manganese is essential for the metabolization of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and protein. As a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), it helps combat the damaging effects of free radicals by converting superoxide, a metabolic byproduct, into safer molecules that won’t cause cellular damage.