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Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral in animal and human nutrition. Molybdenum is involved in the pathways of purine degradation and formation of uric acid. In some animals, adding a small amount of dietary molybdenum enhances growth. In human, molybdenum forms oxides and is a component of a pterin coenzyme essential for the activity of xanthine oxidase, sulfite oxidase, and aldehyde oxidase. Molybdenum is a component of several important interactions that lead to detoxification of the liver. Molybdenum is concentrated primarily in the liver, kidney, bone, and skin. Molybdenum absorption occurs readily in gastrointestinal tract, and excretion occurs primarily via the urine. Beans, beef liver, cereal grains, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and peas are all good sources of molybdenum.

What is Molybdenum ?
Molybdenum is a trace mineral found in all tissues of the body, particularly in the bones, teeth, kidney, and liver. It is important because it helps the body make the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which helps the body use its iron reserves, and burning of fat. Without molybdenum, your body cannot grow and develop properly.

A molybdenum deficiency can also lead to anemia (oxygen starvation in the tissues), tooth decay, and even impotence. A molybdenum supplement is available by prescription, and this nutrient is also often included in many multivitamin and mineral supplements.

Molybdenum is found in dark green leafy vegetables, milk, liver, beans, peas, and cereal grains. The actual amount of molybdenum in grains and vegetables depends on the amount in the soil when the produce was growing, but most people get enough of this nutrient in their diet.

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for molybdenum, but a safe and adequate daily intake is 150 to 500 micrograms for all those over age 11. Too much molybdenum is not a good thing, and can cause painfully swollen joints and deplete the body of copper. Other symptoms of molybdenum toxicity include diarrhea and depressed growth rate in children.

Deficiency Symptoms
Most people get enough molybdenum, if they eat foods from nutrient-rich soil, as only a small amount of it is needed. Supplementation is normally not required.

Deficiency rarely happens, except for example, where there is a genetic problem that prevents the body from absorbing molybdenum from food, or in cases of prolonged intravenous feeding.

While deficiency is rare, those whose diets rely mainly on processed or refined foods might not be getting enough of it for optimal health. High sulfur intake can also reduce molybdenum levels.

arw Increased respiratory or heart rate
arw Night blindness (difficulty with seeing in the dark)
arw Mouth and gum disorders
arw Sexual impotence in older males
arw Sulfite sensitivity (if molybdenum level is not enough for detoxification)

Where it is found
The amount of molybdenum in plant foods varies significantly and is dependent upon the mineral content of the soil.The more molybdenum in the soil, the higher the content in the crops grown in it. Legumes, such as beans, lentils, grains, and peas, are the richest sources of molybdenum.

Benefits / uses
Molybdenum functions as a cofactor for a number of enzymes that catalyze important chemical transformations in the global carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles. Molybdenum is the cofactor for human enzymes, including xanthine oxidase, sulfite oxidase, and aldehyde oxidase. In humans, xanthine oxidase is normally found in the liver and not free in the blood. During severe liver damage, xanthine oxidase is released into the blood, so a blood assay for XO is a way to determine if liver damage has happened. Sulfite oxidase is responsible for breaking down sulfites. Sulfite oxidase is also important in the sulfation of various compounds, especially in the brain. This is particularly important, as the brain is often dramatically affected during bouts of chemical sensitivity. In humans, genetic deficiency of sulfite oxidase leads to severe neurological abnormalities, mental retardation and, in several cases, attenuated growth of the brain. Aldehyde oxidase is a molybdenum cofactor-containing soluble enzyme present in the liver and other tissues of several mammalian species. Despite its name, aldehyde oxidase is involved not only in the oxidation of aldehydes to carboxylic acids but also in the oxidation of nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds and the reduction of nitro-aromatic compounds, isoxazole, and isothiazole ring systems. Molybdenum is a facilitator of liver detoxification. Molybdenum is involved in breaking down certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and the production of waste products for excretion in the urine. It is involved in the chemical reactions that form bone, cartilage and blood.

Because a lack of molybdenum is rare, there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for it. A typical supplementary dose is 75 micrograms daily. The following daily intakes are thought to be plenty for most individuals:

Infants birth to 3 years of age: 15 to 50 (mcg).
Children 4 to 6 years of age: 30 to 75 mcg.
Children 7 to 10 years of age: 50 to 150 mcg.
Adolescents and adults: 75 to 250 mcg.

Possible Side effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions:
Large amounts of molybdenum may cause your body to lose copper. A high intake of molybdenum can alter the activity of alkaline phosphatase. Occasional side effects reported with large doses of this dietary supplement (10-15mg per day) include gout-like symptoms. Molybdenum dusts and molybdenum compounds, such as molybdenum trioxide and water-soluble molybdates, may have slight toxicities if inhaled or ingested orally. Symptoms of molybdenum toxicity include diarrhea, depressed growth rate, and anemia.

When To Take/Types To Take
Molybdenum supplements are best taken with meals. In supplements, it is commonly available in the form of sodium molybdate or ammonium molybdate.

Research studies / References
arw Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.

arw Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center [MIC]: Micronutrient research for optimum health. MIC home page. <>. Accessed 2009 May.

arw American Cancer Society: Molybdenum. <>. Accessed 2009 May 24.

arw Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescription for nutritional healing: A practical A-Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs & food supplements. Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing; 1990.

arw Ulene A. Dr. Art Ulene's complete guide to vitamins, minerals and herbs. New York, NY: Avery Publishing; 2000.