Authored By Murigi

Molybdenum is another essential trace element that the body needs to maintain good health. It is found in various types of foods of both animal and plant origin. The value of this mineral in a plant is dependent on the amount available in the soil where the plant is grown. This means that two people from different regions can have a similar regular diet and yet one of these gets health issues associated with molybdenum deficiency.

Only about 10% of molybdenum taken in food is absorbed. The remaining 90% is excreted in urine. The common storage sites in the body for the micro-element mineral include:

  • The muscles
  • The spleen
  • The lungs
  • The skin
  • The kidneys
  • The liver and
  • The bones

Functions in the body

Molybdenum is important in a number of important enzymes in human beings. It acts as a cofactor in these enzymes’ activities. The enzymes are:

  • Sulfite oxidase. This enzyme plays an important role in the metabolism of two amino acids – cysteine and methionine. Amino acids are important in the building of proteins in the body.
  • Aldehyde oxidase. The enzyme here has certain similar functions as xanthine oxidase (see below). In addition to this, this enzyme supports the metabolism of toxins and drugs.
  • Mitochondrial amoxidine reducing component. The shortened form of this enzyme is mARC. According to the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI), this enzyme’s functions have not been fully understood. It is thought to play a role in cell metabolism and detoxification processes.
  • Xanthine oxidase. These enzymes play a part in the formation of uric acid. When this acid is in healthy amounts, it acts as an antioxidant in the blood plasma.

There are many other enzymes that contain molybdenum but these four are the most studied as of now. Any issues with any of these enzymes may present with health problems. This is particularly so where xanthine oxidase has a hereditary or acquired disorder. A deficiency of molybdenum can lead to impaired functions of any or all of the four enzymes.

Signs and symptoms of molybdenum deficiency

Obvious deficiency signs and symptoms of molybdenum are rare. When observable, an underlying problem can usually be identified. This can either be an inherited disorder or an acquired one.

Inherited deficiency

Here there is an inborn disorder in the metabolism of molybdenum cofactor. This leads to a disruption of the functions of all the enzymes that need this micro-element to function normally. This in turn leads to a range of metabolic disorders.

Acquired molybdenum deficiency

This has been seen in patients on total intravenous feeding without molybdenum supplementation.

Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Headache
  • Poor night vision
  • Coma as the deficiency persists

Laboratory investigation may reveal a problem with uric acid production and an abnormal reaction to sulfites. These are chemical compounds mostly used in food preservation and which are also found naturally in some foods. In its severe forms, sulfite sensitivity can be life threatening. Sensitivity to these compounds could be an indicator of molybdenum deficiency.

Sources of molybdenum

There are two dietary sources of molybdenum. These are plant and animal sources. Plant sources are the best while animal sources are low in the mineral. Fruits are not good sources also. Good plant sources include:

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • Whole grains such as oats and barley
  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
  • Sesame seeds

Molybdenum supplements

Standalone molybdenum supplements are usually given in established health conditions associated with the mineral’s deficiency. For general health promotion purposes, molybdenum is part of a composite nutritional supplement with other minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and or herbs.  For example, in basic, a potent multivitamin-multimineral supplement, molybdenum is one of the many ingredients in the product that synergistically work together to support overall good health. It is available in the form of sodium molybdate and will meet 33% of the mineral’s required daily value.


In the U.S, the recommended daily allowance for molybdenum is as suggested in the table below.

Life Stage                   Age                Males (μg/day)                                  Females (μg/day)

Infants                        0-6 months                  2 (AI)                                      2 (AI)

Infants                        7-12 months                 3 (AI)                                     3 (AI)

Children                     1-3 years                     17                                            17

Children                     4-8 years                     22                                            22

Children                     9-13 years                   34                                            34

Adolescents                14-18 years                 43                                            43

Adults             19 years and older                   45                                             45

Pregnancy                  all ages                        -                                               50

Breast-feeding           all ages                        -                                               50

Health benefits of molybdenum

  • May help to reduce the incidence of esophageal and stomach cancers.
  • May contribute to longevity
  • Supports respiratory health
  • Promotes body detoxification
  • Supports iron transport and red blood cells production
  • Plays a role in the metabolism of copper 

Safety and interactions

Incidences of molybdenum toxicity are rare. However, it is always important to stick to the recommended dosage of the mineral in supplements form. If taken in high doses, it will lower the absorption and availability of copper in the body. High amounts of copper also lower the availability of molybdenum.

In Green Superfood Basic supplement, the levels of these two minerals are well balanced such that, you reap maximum health benefits of the two and all other ingredients in the product. For more information about this product, go here.


Plitzko, B., Ott, G., Reichmann, D., Henderson, C. J., Wolf, C. R., Mendel, R., … Havemeyer, A. (2013). The Involvement of Mitochondrial Amidoxime Reducing Components 1 and 2 and Mitochondrial Cytochrome b5 in N-Reductive Metabolism in Human Cells. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(28), 20228–20237.

Wahl, B., Reichmann, D., Niks, D., Krompholz, N., Havemeyer, A., Clement, B., … Bittner, F. (2010). Biochemical and Spectroscopic Characterization of the Human Mitochondrial Amidoxime Reducing Components hmARC-1 and hmARC-2 Suggests the Existence of a New Molybdenum Enzyme Family in Eukaryotes. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285(48), 37847–37859.

Zannolli, R., Micheli, V., Mazzei, M., Sacco, P., Piomboni, P., Bruni, E., … Morgese, G. (2003). Hereditary xanthinuria type II associated with mental delay, autism, cortical renal cysts, nephrocalcinosis, osteopenia, and hair and teeth defects. Journal of Medical Genetics, 40(11), e121.

Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Molybdenum. In: Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2001:420-441.

Ray, S. S., Das, D., Ghosh, T., & Ghosh, A. K. (2012). The Levels of Zinc and Molybdenum in Hair and Food Grain in Areas of High and Low Incidence of Esophageal Cancer: A Comparative Study. Global Journal of Health Science, 4(4), 168–175.


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