Manganese and magnesium are both chemical elements that are often confused because their name is so similar, but both are used as elements during metal-making and also as essential nutrients needed by the body to function properly. Thus, it is important to know the differences, and similarities, between these two metallic elements.

First, a few basic facts about the elements:

  Manganese Magnesium
Element Manganese Magnesium
 Symbol Mn Mg 
 State solid  solid 
 Atomic Number 25  12 
 Element Group Transition Metal  Alkaline Earth Metal 
 Year Discovered 1774  1808 
 Melting Point (F) 2275  1202


After a quick look at the differences above, one can see the elements themselves sound similar, and being metals have some similar properties. Although how they are created and used are very different. First, manganese is the denser element, appearing in nature as a free trace element, most often found combined with iron.

Magnesium is one of the most abundant elements on earth behind iron, oxygen, and silicone - although it not found naturally on earth. It is created during the intense heat of a dying star, called a supernova, which explodes out into the universe and sends these elements hurtling into other elements and planets.

Both elements are used as alloys, although for very different purposes. Manganese is used as an industrial alloy, mostly with steel (such as creating low-cost stainless-steel). It’s also used to add strength and prevent corrosion. Both are used with aluminum, manganese providing resistance to corrosion and magnesium as an alloy agent used for its lightness and strength.

Both are essential nutrients needed for healthy bodily functions and serve as enzymes, which act as a catalyst to the many processes. Manganese is used for bodily functions in healing wounds, as an antioxidant in mitochondria, helps in the formation of cartilage and bone, and its most important role is in metabolizing cholesterol, carbohydrates, and amino acids .

Magnesium is similar in that it is also used by mitochondria for energy, and in over 300 enzymes for different metabolic functions, including creating energy from carbohydrates and fats. It also aids with muscle and nerve function, keeping heart rate regular, and plays an important role in reactions that help boost the body’s immune system.

In adults, the recommended daily amount of manganese is only 1.8 -2.3 mg/day, while magnesium intake is recommended at 310 – 420 mg/day. They can both be found in seeds, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Manganese can also be found in tea, pineapples, and raspberries, while magnesium can also be found in chocolate, coffee, meats, and dairy products.