Magnesium vs. Manganese

What's the Difference?

Magnesium and manganese are both chemical elements that belong to the same group on the periodic table, but they have distinct characteristics. Magnesium is a silver-white alkaline earth metal that is highly reactive and abundant in the Earth's crust. It is known for its low density, high strength, and excellent corrosion resistance. Magnesium is essential for various biological processes and is commonly used in alloys, pyrotechnics, and as a dietary supplement. On the other hand, manganese is a gray-white transition metal that is less reactive than magnesium. It is widely used in steel production, as an alloying agent, and in the manufacturing of batteries and ceramics. Manganese is also an essential nutrient for humans and plays a crucial role in various enzymatic reactions. Overall, while both elements have important industrial and biological applications, magnesium is more reactive and has different physical properties compared to manganese.


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Atomic Number1225
Atomic Mass24.30554.938
Electron Configuration[Ne] 3s2[Ar] 3d5 4s2
Melting Point (°C)6501246
Boiling Point (°C)10902061
Density (g/cm³)1.7387.21
Common Oxidation States+2+2, +3, +4, +6, +7
Common CompoundsMagnesium Oxide (MgO), Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2)Manganese Oxide (MnO), Manganese Sulfate (MnSO4)
Photo by Lampos Aritonang on Unsplash

Further Detail


Magnesium and manganese are two essential elements that play crucial roles in various biological processes. While they share some similarities, they also possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of magnesium and manganese, their uses, and their significance in human health.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Magnesium (Mg) and manganese (Mn) are both metallic elements found in the periodic table. Magnesium is a silver-white alkaline earth metal, while manganese is a grayish-white transition metal. Magnesium has an atomic number of 12 and an atomic mass of 24.305 amu, while manganese has an atomic number of 25 and an atomic mass of 54.938 amu.

Both elements have relatively low melting points, with magnesium melting at 650°C (1202°F) and manganese at 1246°C (2275°F). Magnesium is highly reactive and easily oxidizes in the presence of air, while manganese is less reactive and more resistant to oxidation.

Furthermore, magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, while manganese is less abundant but still relatively common. Both elements can be found in various minerals and ores, with magnesium primarily occurring as magnesite and dolomite, and manganese occurring in pyrolusite, rhodochrosite, and other minerals.

Uses and Applications

Magnesium and manganese find numerous applications in different industries due to their unique properties.


Magnesium is widely used in the automotive industry for its lightweight and high strength-to-weight ratio. It is a key component in the production of aluminum alloys, which are used to manufacture car parts, such as engine blocks, wheels, and transmission cases. Magnesium is also utilized in the aerospace industry for its low density and excellent machinability.

Additionally, magnesium has important applications in healthcare. It is commonly used as a dietary supplement due to its role in various enzymatic reactions and its contribution to bone health. Magnesium sulfate is used in medical treatments, such as Epsom salt baths, to alleviate muscle soreness and promote relaxation.

Moreover, magnesium plays a vital role in the production of fertilizers, as it is an essential nutrient for plant growth. It is also used in the production of fireworks, flares, and pyrotechnics due to its ability to burn brightly and produce intense white light.


Manganese has diverse applications across several industries.

One of the primary uses of manganese is in the production of steel. It is added to iron to improve its strength, hardness, and resistance to wear and corrosion. Manganese steel, also known as Hadfield steel, is used in the construction of railway tracks, safes, and rock-crushing machinery.

Manganese compounds are also utilized in the production of dry cell batteries, such as alkaline batteries. These batteries are commonly used in portable electronic devices, toys, and flashlights. Manganese dioxide, a compound of manganese, is a key component in the production of glass, ceramics, and pigments.

Furthermore, manganese is an essential nutrient for humans and animals. It plays a crucial role in various enzymatic reactions, including the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. Manganese is also involved in the formation of connective tissues, bone development, and the production of sex hormones.

Health Benefits and Deficiencies

Magnesium and manganese both contribute to human health, albeit in different ways.


Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, making it essential for overall health and well-being. It plays a crucial role in energy production, DNA synthesis, muscle contraction, and nerve function. Magnesium also helps regulate blood pressure, maintain a steady heartbeat, and support a healthy immune system.

A deficiency in magnesium can lead to various health issues, including muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythms. In severe cases, magnesium deficiency may contribute to conditions like osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.


Manganese is necessary for the proper functioning of several enzymes involved in metabolism, antioxidant defense, and bone development. It supports the formation of connective tissues, such as cartilage and collagen, and plays a role in blood clotting and wound healing.

A deficiency in manganese is rare, as it is present in many common foods. However, certain medical conditions or prolonged exposure to high levels of other minerals, such as iron or calcium, can interfere with manganese absorption and lead to a deficiency. Manganese deficiency may result in impaired growth, skeletal abnormalities, and altered glucose metabolism.


In conclusion, magnesium and manganese are two essential elements with distinct attributes and applications. Magnesium is a highly reactive alkaline earth metal, while manganese is a less reactive transition metal. Magnesium finds uses in the automotive, aerospace, and healthcare industries, while manganese is primarily utilized in steel production, batteries, and ceramics.

Both elements contribute to human health, with magnesium playing a crucial role in energy production and nerve function, and manganese supporting metabolism and bone development. While deficiencies in magnesium and manganese can lead to various health issues, they are generally rare due to their presence in a wide range of foods.

Understanding the unique properties and benefits of magnesium and manganese allows us to appreciate their significance in various fields and underscores their importance for human health and well-being.

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