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Interesting Facts on Molybdenum

By M. Gideon Hoyle

Your body needs the mineral molybdenum for certain vital chemical reactions, including the processing of certain specialized protein components called amino acids. You need only a small amount for normal function, and deficiencies rarely occur. If you have certain health concerns, your doctor may address your condition with a suitable molybdenum supplement.

Molybdenum Basics

Molybdenum is present in a variety of foods, including liver, grains, leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, lentils and beans. Levels of the mineral in plant sources vary according to the molybdenum content of the soil in which the plants grow. Typically, your body contains only trace amounts of molybdenum. In most cases, recommended daily intake of the mineral for adults is 45 mcg. Recommendations for children vary with age, while pregnant women require 50 mcg per day. Supplemental forms of molybdenum are marketed under such names as ammonium molybdate and sodium molybdate.


While molybdenum is important to a variety of bodily processes, doctors and researchers don’t know precisely how it achieves its effects or interacts with other important body chemicals, according to the American Cancer Society. Functions in your body that may require molybdenum include energy creation inside your cells, normal development of your nervous system and the processing of wastes in your kidneys. If you have an inherited metabolic disorder such as Wilson’s disease, your doctor may prescribe molybdenum as a treatment. Use of molybdenum may also ease the negative effects of certain drugs commonly prescribed as cancer treatments.

Average Intake

American women consume an average of 76 mcg of molybdenum per day, according to a study reported by Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. American men take in an average of 109 mcg of the mineral per day. Consuming more than the recommended daily amount does not appear to provide any health benefits. Additionally, molybdenum requirements don’t appear to change with advancing age. The vast majority of individuals with molybdenum deficiencies have genetic metabolic illnesses.

Maximum Intake

The risk of toxic reactions from molybdenum is quite low, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. Still, the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board has established safe upper limits for molybdenum use. If you are a healthy adult, you can take as much as 2 mg of the mineral per day safely. Children between the ages of 14 and 18 can take as much as 1.7 mg per day, while children between the ages of 9 and 13 can take as much as 1.1 mg. Children between 4 and 8 can take as much as 600 mcg, while children between 1 and 3 can take as much as 300 mcg.


Researchers have studied molybdenum closely only over the past few decades, the American Cancer Society notes. Proposed uses for the mineral include the treatment of conditions such as cancer, impotence, gout, cavities and anemia. Further research is needed, however, to determine molybdenum’s true effects on these conditions. Consult your doctor for more information.

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