Molybdenum is a trace mineral found in foods such as milk, cheese, cereal grains, legumes, nuts, leafy vegetables, and organ meats. The amounts found in these foods is dependent on the soil content for a particular area. Drinking water can also be considered a source of molybdenum. No Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) has been established for Molybdenum however estimated required intakes according to the World Health Organisation is between 0.1 and 0.3 mg/day for adults.
Molybdenum is considered an essential mineral however it is only needed in small amounts. Molybdenum works in the body to break down proteins and other substances as it functions as a component in several enzymes which are involved in alcohol detoxification, uric acid formation and sulphur metabolism. It is also part of the enzyme responsible for the utilisation of iron.
Low intake of Molybdenum is associated with disorders of the mouth and gums. It has also been associated with cancer. A deficiency may also be associated with parental nutrition supplementation and sulphite sensitivities. A deficiency has also been associated with impotence in older men.
Cancer –Molybdenum is believed to play a role in cancer prevention due to its function in the detoxification of cancer-causing chemicals. Research has shown that where levels of molybdenum are low such as the soil in China (1) and the drinking water in the united states (2), rates of oesophageal cancer are higher (3). Studies have shown that when molybdenum is added to drinking water oesophageal cancer is significantly inhibited (4), (5).
Tooth decay- Studies have shown that molybdenum may also play a role in dental health. It has been found that areas where molybdenum levels are low, the rates of tooth decay are higher (3). It is believed that molybdenum may enhance the effects of fluoride because a combination of molybdenum and fluoride has been shown to be more effective in reducing dental cavities than fluoride-containing water alone (6).
Wilsons Disease – Molybdenum has also been shown to be of potential benefit in Wilsons disease which is characterized by increased storage of copper, leading to liver and brain damage (7). The formation of compounds containing sulfur and molybdenum, known as thiomolybdates, prevents the absorption of copper and is utilized in the treatment of Wilsons disease (8).
Prevention of Sulphite sensitivities- Molybdenum contributes to normal sulphur amino acid metabolism Because the enzymes that are needed to detoxify sulphites (sulphites are preservatives that prevent spoilage by checking the growth of microorganisms) are dependent on molybdenum, inclusion of molybdenum in the diet and through supplementation may help to prevent sulphite sensitivities and associated symptoms which can include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, headache, disorientation, nausea and vomiting.
Dental Health-Molybdenum has been shown to be effective in reducing dental caries and therefore a supplement may be useful for those who may be prone to developing dental decay or those who have poor dental health.
Anaemia- Due to the role of Molybdenum in the utilisation of iron, including it in the diet or if necessary in the form of a supplement may be useful for those who may be at risk of developing Iron Deficient Anaemia. For example, those who may have a low intake of iron from their diet, in pregnancy or during heavy menstruation and for those who may have difficulty absorbing iron due to intestinal issues or in conditions which may cause internal bleeding such as ulceration, cancer and haemorrhoids.
Molybdenum is considered non- toxic. In order for toxicity to occur doses would need to be in excess of 100mg per kg body weight however 10-15mg daily has been associated with gout-like symptoms due to enhanced production of uric acid. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established for Molybdenum.