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D-Mannose for UTIs + 5 Other Uses, Dosage, Side Effects

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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D-mannose is a natural sugar very similar to glucose. It reduces urinary tract infections and improves the symptoms of a rare metabolic genetic disorder. It may also act as a prebiotic and help with weight loss. Continue reading to learn more about D-mannose, its potential health benefits, and side effects.

What Is D-Mannose?

D-mannose (occasionally known as carubinose, seminose, and mannopyranose) is a simple sugar that occurs naturally in the body. It’s also found in animals, plants, and microbes. Although it’s a close relative of glucose, D-mannose is much less efficient at storing energy [1, 2].

D-mannose acts as a health-promoting “glyconutrient” in the body. It activates proteins by binding to them (creating so-called “glycoconjugates”), which allows proteins to play out important roles in many tissues and organs [1, 2].

Humans can take in D-mannose through diet or produce it from fructose. Most of the blood D-mannose that enters cells (98%) is transformed into the fruit sugar fructose. Fructose is broken down to release energy, while only ~2% is used to bind proteins. These proteins can release D-mannose back into the blood to maintain D-mannose levels [3, 4, 5].

The main clinical applications of D-mannose are [2]:

  • Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Correcting a genetic disorder of glycosylation

D-Mannose Blood Levels

Human blood contains ~50 μmol/L D-mannose. High D-mannose levels can be a sign of the following conditions [2]:

However, this single symptom is not enough for a diagnosis. Work with your doctor to discover what underlying condition might be causing high D-mannose levels and to develop an appropriate plan to improve your health.

One study associated high D-mannose levels with an increased risk of developing chronic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and kidney problems (albuminuria) [9].

Although high D-mannose levels are associated with advanced esophageal cancer, a study on 159 people with this cancer found that those with higher D-mannose levels had a lower risk of cancer recurrence and death [14].

Mechanisms of Action

UTIs

Most UTI infections are caused by E. coli, which attaches itself to the lining of the urinary tract by small hair-like proteins. D-mannose taken orally is excreted from the body by urine. While passing through the urinary tract, D-mannose clings to E. coli proteins and detaches the bacteria. As urine leaves the body, bacteria bound to D-mannose are flushed with it [15, 16].

Genetic Metabolic Disorders

Congenital disorder of glycosylation type Ib is a rare genetic disorder caused by a defect in the enzyme that makes D-mannose from fructose (phosphomannose isomerase). People with this condition can’t bind D-mannose to proteins and suffer from liver damage, digestive and blood clotting abnormalities. Intake of D-mannose in high amounts raises its blood levels and facilitates normal metabolism [17, 18].

Uses & Benefits

D-mannose supplements are mainly marketed to prevent and improve UTIs. However, this sugar is not approved by the FDA for any conditions. Regulations set manufacturing standards for supplements but don’t guarantee that they are safe or effective. Talk to your doctor before using D-mannose for any conditions to avoid unexpected interactions.

Possibly Effective for:

1) Reducing UTIs

What Are UTIs?

UTIs are bladder infections that can affect any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra and kidneys. Most of them (75-90%) are caused by E. coli, which can enter the bladder through the urethra and begin to multiply [19, 20+].

UTIs are much more common in women, half of which suffer from at least one in their lifetime. Women have a shorter urethra than men, making it easier for the bacteria to travel to the bladder. The main risk factors for developing UTIs in women are [21+]:

  • Being sexually active (risk increases with frequency of sexual intercourse)
  • Urinating after sex [22]
  • Some birth control methods – diaphragms with spermicide more so than birth control pills [22]
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy

UTIs can also affect men in rare cases. Factors that increase UTI risk in both men and women include age, weakening of the immune system, medical conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, and catheter use [23].

The main symptoms of UTIs are [19, 24+]:

  • Increased frequency of urination with reduced urine volume
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or smelly urine
  • Pain, nausea, and fever

UTIs are normally treated with antibiotics. Because their long-term use may cause adverse effects and make the bacteria resistant, many people turn to alternative therapies such as D-mannose [25+, 26+].

D-Mannose for UTIs

In a clinical trial of over 300 women with recurrent UTIs, D-mannose (2g/day) for 6 months was as effective as the antibiotic nitrofurantoin at reducing UTI recurrence [27].

In another trial of 60 women, D-mannose was more effective than two other antibiotics (trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole). It was used at a higher dose for 2 weeks (3g/day) and maintained at a lower dose for 6 months (1 g/day) [28].

D-mannose (3g/day) also reduced UTI recurrence in a clinical trial of 22 people with multiple sclerosis after 4 months [29].

In a clinical trial of 43 women with mild bladder inflammation, D-mannose resolved most symptoms and reduced their recurrence. It was given at 3g/day for 3 days followed by 1.5 g/day for 10 days [30].

Recurrent UTIs are a frequent cause of kidney stones. In a clinical trial of 25 people who underwent kidney stone removal surgery, a formulation containing 0.1 g D-mannose for 5 months reduced the formation of new stones [31].

All in all, the existing evidence to support the benefits of D-mannose for UTIs is promising but limited to a few, small clinical trials. Larger, more robust studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.

Importantly, talk with your doctor about treatment options if you have an active UTI. D-mannose might help treat and prevent UTIs in some cases, but it’s important to follow medically proven therapies to prevent the infection from worsening and spreading into the kidneys and blood.

2) Improving Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation

Congenital disorders of glycosylation result from genetic defects in enzymes that bind sugars such as D-mannose to proteins. The faulty, incomplete proteins can cause serious organ damage [32+].

Type Ib of this disorder is a rare defect in the enzyme that makes d-mannose from fructose. It can affect multiple organs such as the liver and brain, cause malnutrition, vomiting, and other serious symptoms [33+].

Intake of D-mannose can make up for the lack of normal D-mannose production. It resolved the main symptoms of this syndrome in multiple cases [34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39].

However, D-mannose doesn’t protect from liver damage, 33% of people develop serious liver scarring despite taking D-mannose [40+, 41].

Type Ia of this disorder is caused by a defect in another enzyme in the D-mannose pathway. Although D-mannose supplementation corrected the defect in cells and mice, it has so far failed to improve the symptoms in humans [17, 42, 43, 44, 45].

Congenital disorders of glycosylation are serious, potentially deadly conditions that must be immediately diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Never delay seeking medical advice or change medical treatments based on any information you have read on our website.

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence):

Preliminary research is investigating other effects of D-mannose. The available results have only been obtained in animals and cells, so these effects may not be the same in humans.

Balancing the Immune System

D-mannose may help build immune tolerance and stabilize Th1/Th2/Th17 dominance. In cells, it activated Treg cells and increased their production, which is extremely important for balancing all-around inflammation and autoimmunity [46].

In human white blood cells (neutrophils), D-mannose also blocked the release of free radicals that trigger inflammation [47].

A team of Chinese researchers recently caused a complete shift in thinking, claiming that D-mannose is a unique health-promoting substance. According to their study in mice, this simple sugar may be a safe dietary supplement to balance the immune system, treat and prevent autoimmune diseases and allergies [46].

D-mannose also prevented the onset of autoimmune diabetes, asthma, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in animal studies. In rats, D-mannose wound injections blocked inflammation during wound healing [48, 49, 50, 46, 51].

Even a 9-fold increase in D-mannose blood levels didn’t cause side effects in animal studies, suggesting it may be a safe way to reduce autoimmunity and inflammation [46].

Preventing Other Infections

D-mannose and yeasts containing it prevented gut infections in chicken (Salmonella and Campylobacter) [52, 53, 54].

Similarly, D-mannose prevented gonorrhea infections in rabbits [55].

However, these studies were only done in animals. Clinical trials are required to test if D-mannose can help prevent infections from these disease-causing microbes in humans.

Acting as a Prebiotic

Prebiotics are sugars that stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. D-mannose restored a healthy microbiome in mice with poor gut flora and reduced gut inflammation. In another study on obese mice fed on a high-fat diet, D-mannose favored the growth of the weight-loss-promoting gut microbes (Bacteroidetes) [56, 57].

Weight Loss

In obese mice fed a high-fat diet, D-mannose reduced weight gain, prevented diabetes and fat buildup in the liver. It also increased fat burning and reduced food absorption in the gut (so, fewer calories are absorbed) [57].

Certain gut bacteria are linked to weight gain or weight loss. D-mannose shifted the microbiome composition to enhance weight-loss-promoting gut microbes called Bacteroidetes. It did so at the expense of another strain of bacteria linked to weight gain and obesity in humans (Firmicutes) [57].

Side Effects

Keep in mind that the safety profile of D-mannose is relatively unknown, given the scarcity of clinical studies. The list of side effects below is, therefore, not a definite one. You should consult your doctor about other potential side effects based on your health condition and possible drug or supplement interactions.

D-mannose is generally well tolerated. At the doses used to prevent urinary tract infections, most studies found no side effects and only one reported mild diarrhea in 7.8% of people [27+].

The doses used for congenital disorder of glycosylation type Ib are much higher and the following adverse effects have been reported:

  • Bloating and loose stools [37+, 18+]
  • Diarrhea and stomachache [58]
  • Seizures and reduced consciousness [59]
  • Dizziness [18+]
  • Lack of appetite, discomfort, and tiredness [3]

However, the effects were only seen in people exceeding the highest recommended dose of 1.2g/kg/day. This would amount to a very large dose of over 70g/day for a person of about 120 lbs.

Safety and Toxicity

In a child with congenital disorder of glycosylation type Ib, the injection of extremely high D-mannose doses for 3 weeks still didn’t cause any toxicity. Even the high doses typically used for this genetic disorder didn’t cause any damage in the long term (up to 10 years) [45, 60, 38+, 33+].

It’s important to note that no clinical studies have evaluated its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Additionally, high D-mannose doses caused reduced growth, blindness, organ malformations, and increased death rates in mouse and rat embryos. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious with D-mannose [2, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65].

D-mannose stimulates insulin release. It also forms protein-sugar complexes that may cause complications in diabetics, such as eye, kidney, brain, and heart damage. Diabetics should consult their doctors before taking D-mannose supplements [66+, 67, 2, 68].

D-mannose is eliminated through urine and high blood levels are linked to an increased risk of kidney problems, which raised some concerns about long-term use. However, no cases of kidney damage have been reported with the typical doses [25+, 9, 45].

Drug Interactions

The antibiotic for fungal infections pradimicin A binds to D-mannose. Because D-mannose supplements can reduce the availability and effects of this antibiotic, people on this medication should consult their doctor before taking D-mannose supplements [69].

Dosage

Because D-mannose is not approved by the FDA for any conditions, there is no official dose. Supplement manufacturers and users have established unofficial dosing guidelines based on trial and error.

For UTIs

The recommended doses for preventing UTIs are [27, 29, 70+, 71]:

  • 2 g 1x/day, or
  • 0.5-1.5 g 2x/day

For resolving the symptoms of active UTIs, the recommended doses are [30+, 72+]:

  • 1.5 g 2x/day for 3 days followed by 1.5 g 1x/day for 10 days

Combination Supplements for UTIs

D-mannose is often combined with plant extracts (cranberry, hibiscus, Noni) and probiotics in formulations for UTIs.

In numerous studies with over 300 people, different formulations with D-mannose were used. The ones that worked the best include:

  • D-mannose (1 g/day) combined with NAC and Noni for 1 week in preventing mild recurrent UTIs [73]
  • Cranberry dry extract and probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei) with D-mannose in preventing severe recurrent UTIs. Both higher D-mannose doses (2 g/day) over 2 weeks and lower doses (0.5 g/day) over 4 months were effective [70, 71].
  • The same combination improved mild active UTIs after 2 months at a lower dose (D-mannose 0.25-0.5 g/day) [72]

For Glycosylation Disorders

The D-mannose dose in people with congenital disorder of glycosylation type Ib is 0.1-0.2 g/kg up to 4-6x/day while monitoring blood D-mannose levels [34, 33+].

For Cats and Dogs

Some people buy D-mannose supplements for their pets. Analyses reported the use of D-mannose for urinary tract infections in cats and dogs with good results and without any adverse effects [74+].

The human dosage can be adapted to pets based on their weight. Large dogs would probably need a dose similar to what’s used in humans, while smaller cats and dogs would require only ¼ or less (depending on their size). Check with your vet if you’re unsure.

Forms of Supplementation

D-mannose can be taken as:

  • Powder [27, 29, 30+]
  • Capsules
  • Sachets [70+, 72]
  • Tablets (chewable or regular) [31+]
  • Vials [71, 73]

D-mannose is marketed for urinary tract infections under several commercial brand names such as [27+, 30+, 31]:

  • U-tract (alone)
  • Mannocist (alone)
  • Cystoman (in combination with cranberry extract and vitamin C)

Additionally, the following fruits are rich in D-mannose [2]:

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Cranberries*

*Although cranberries do contain some D-mannose, research suggests they mainly improve UTI symptoms thanks to their proanthocyanidin content [75].

Reviews & User Experiences

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of D-mannose users who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

A lot of women take D-mannose as an alternative to antibiotics for recurrent urinary tract infections. Almost all of them reported a reduced frequency of infections, improvement of the symptoms, and absence of adverse effects. Users who rated D-mannose lower usually complained about its high price and only a few reported occasional infections despite the therapy.

Most women with active urinary tract infections were gratefully surprised to start seeing positive results after only 1-2 days, while only a few complained that the product didn’t work for them.

Loose stools and bloating were the most commonly reported adverse effects.

Limitations and Caveats

Although the results on the use of D-mannose for urinary tract infections are very promising, they are based on only a few clinical trials. Additional studies with more people are required to confirm D-mannose as a practical, safe, and effective alternative to antibiotics.

Among the studies on D-mannose use for urinary tract infections, one was funded by the manufacturer of a D-mannose formulation (Probiotica SpA) and another one was carried out by two scientists working for another manufacturer (Deakos) [72+, 76+].

Because congenital disorder of glycosylation type Ib is a very rare disease (less than 50 cases reported), the benefits and potential adverse effects of D-mannose therapy have only been investigated in a few case studies [33+].

The potential application of D-mannose in inflammatory conditions, infectious diseases other than UTIs, microbiome restoration, and weight loss have only been investigated in animals and cells. Clinical trials in humans are required to confirm these health benefits.

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About the Author

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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