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What is mannose? Why do we need it?

Mannose is a simple sugar which is structurally related to glucose. It is absorbed by the body much more slowly than glucose, however; when ingested, it is not converted to glycogen or stored in the liver, but rather proceeds directly into the bloodstream as a source of energy.

While small amounts of mannose are metabolized by the body, the majority of mannose consumed is excreted by the body via urine.

Evidence suggests that the e. coli bacteria can attach to mannose molecules, helping to remove it from the body. As a result, some practitioners may recommend mannose to help treat or prevent urinary tract infections. Mannose is also used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial infections in animals, and to detect the presence of salmonella bacteria in animal feed.

How much mannose should I take?

To help treat urinary infections, some practitioners recommend 1 teaspoon of mannose, dissolved in water or juice and taken every 2-3 hours.

What forms of mannose are available?

Mannose occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, including apples, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, and peaches. It is also available as a dietary supplement, usually as a liquid extract.

What can happen if I take too much mannose? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Test-tube studies have suggested that consuming large doses of mannose may cause birth defects. Although the risk of birth defects derived from mannose is considered extremely small, pregnant women should nevertheless consult with a licensed health care provider before taking mannose supplements.

As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions associated with mannose. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking mannose or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Ampel NM, Nelson DK, Li L, et al. The mannose receptor mediates the cellular immune response in human coccidioidomycosis. Infect Immun April 2005;73(4):2554-5.
  • Linehan SA. The mannose receptor is expressed by subsets of APC in non-lymphoid organs. BMC Immunol February 8, 2005;6(1):4.
  • Taylor PR, Gordon S, Martinez-Pomares L. The mannose receptor: linking homeostasis and immunity through sugar recognition. Trends Immunol February 2005;26(2):104-10.
  • Uguz A, Berber Z, Coskun M, et al. Mannose-binding lectin levels in children with asthma. Pediatr Allergy Immunol May 2005;16(3):231-5.
  • Wright JV, Lenard L. D-Mannose & Bladder Infection: The Natural Alternative to Antibiotics. Auburn, WA: Dragon Art Press, 2001.
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