Mollifying Concerns About Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a trace mineral required by almost all living organisms. It works as a cofactor for enzymes that carry out important chemical reactions involving carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. It is involved in many important biological processes, possibly including development of the nervous system, waste processing in the kidneys, and energy production in cells.

Molybdenum assists in breaking down sulfite toxins in your body. It may be of value in fighting mouth and gum disorders, and may prevent cavities. It may also be an antioxidant. It assists your body by fighting nitrosamines, which are associated with cancer, and may help to prevent anemia. You need it for normal cell function and nitrogen metabolism. Molybdenum is required for the activity of enzymes that are involved in eliminating toxins. This includes the breakdown of purines to produce uric acid, which is formed primarily in your liver and is excreted by your kidneys into your urine. Uric acid acts as an antioxidant. Molybdenum is also a cofactor of enzymes involved detoxifying another substance, pyrimidines. It is also used in the treatment of copper poisoning and improper carbohydrate metabolism.

Molybdenum may also have a role in stabilizing unoccupied glucocorticoid receptors. Glucocorticoids are naturally–produced steroid hormones that inhibit inflammation. Their shape permits them to move across the membrane that surrounds cells in your body, and to be recognized by molecules inside your cells called glucocorticoid receptors. Your body absorbs molybdenum quickly in your stomach and in your small intestine. Following absorption, molybdenum is transported by your blood to your liver and to other tissues of your body. In the molybdate form, it is carried in your blood bound to alpha–macro-globulin and red blood cells. Your liver and kidneys store the highest amounts of molybdenum.

The active biological form of molybdenum, known as molybdenum cofactor, is in several tissues of your body. Molybdenum cofactor is made in cells and consists of a molybdenum atom bound to other molecules. The cofactor is a component of four main enzymes:

  • Sulfite oxidase, which breaks down sulfite into sulfate, a reaction that is necessary for the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine. Sulfites are found in protein-rich food as well as chemical preservatives in certain foods and drugs. If your body doesn’t break down these sulfites, a toxic build-up results, and your body may react with an allergic reaction, including respiratory problems such as asthma.
  • Xanthine oxidase, which breaks down nucleotides (precursors of DNA and RNA) to form uric acid, which acts as an antioxidant in your blood. Xanthine oxidase is involved in your body’s production of genetic material and proteins.
  • Aldehyde oxidase, which is involved in several reactions, including breaking down pyrimidines, metabolizing drugs and toxins, helping your body produce genetic material and proteins.
  • Xanthine dehydrogenase, which breaks down hypoxanthine to xanthine, and xanthine to uric acid. It also plays a role in the metabolism of drugs and toxins.

Deficiencies of molybdenum are rare, but do occur where the mineral is not present in soil, or in people with certain genetic disorders. When a deficiency occurs, it could cause esophageal cancer, impotence, and an abnormal excretion of sulfur. The Daily Value (DV) for molybdenum is 75 μg for adults. Sources of dietary molybdenum include legumes, nuts and seeds, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables. Food Sources of Molybdenum per 1-Cup Serving

Food

Molybdenum (μg)

DV

Navy beans

196

261%

Black-eye peas

180

240%

Lentils

148

197%

Split peas

148

197%

Lima beans

142

189%

Kidney beans

132

176%

Black beans

130

173%

Pinto beans

128.3

171%

Almonds

46.4

62%

Chestnuts

42.4

57%

Peanuts

42.4

57%

Cashews

38

51%

Soybeans, green

12.8

17%

Tomatoes, fresh

9

12%

Bell peppers

4.6

6%

Brussels sprouts

4.4

6%

Cabbage

3.5

5%

Bok choy

3.5

5%

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine found little evidence that molybdenum excess was associated with adverse health outcomes in generally healthy people. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for molybdenum is 2,000 μg per day for most adults.


This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors. This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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