Molybdenum

Overview

Molybdenum is one of the rarest substances on earth, yet small amounts of this mineral are found in nearly all tissues of the human body. Molybdenum is a component of several important metalloenzymes that participate in liver detoxification pathways.

Active Forms

Molybdenum aspartate, citrate, chloride, gluconate, picolinate, sulfate, and sodium molybdate (Na2MoO4).

Absorption

Molybdenum is easily and efficiently absorbed from the intestinal tract.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Molybdenum toxicity is very rare since excess molybdenum is highly excreted in the urine. A case report exists of molybdenum toxicity/poisoning in a man in his thirties. Adherence to molybdenum dosing guidelines is recommended. [ Ref. ]

Side Effects

 

Excess intake of molybdenum (10-15mg/day) can cause a gout-like syndrome due to an elevated production of uric acid.

Functions In The Body

Absorption

Affects the absorption of iron, copper, and sulfate by competing for the same intestinal brush-border receptor sites.

Aldehyde Oxidase

Catalyzes the conversion of aldehydes to acids.

Enzyme Function

Necessary for the function of xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. [ Ref. ] , [ Ref. ]

Liver Detoxification

Sulfite oxidase catalyzes the last step in the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids. It is the liver detoxification pathway that converts sulfite, which is toxic to the nervous system, to sulfate for excretion.

Urinary Excretion

Xanthine oxidase metabolizes xanthine to uric acid for urinary excretion to help guard against hyperuricemia.

Clinical Applications

Cancer Prevention

Epidemiological studies show that there is a 30 percent increased rate of esophageal cancer in areas of the United States where there is low or no molybdenum in the drinking water, [ Ref. ] , [ Ref. ]  and in areas where food is grown on molybdenum-poor soil. [ Ref. ]

Dental Caries

Epidemiological evidence indicates that molybdenum is a trace mineral that is associated with decreased incidence of dental caries. However, more recently, it has also been reported that elevated molybdenum levels can also increase risk of these caries. [ Ref. ]

Sulfite Sensitivity

Molybdenum is a cofactor in the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which detoxifies sulfite to harmless sulfate for excretion. Molybdenum supplementation is recommended for individuals with sulfite sensitivity. [ Ref. ] , [ Ref. ]

Symptoms and Causes of Deficency

Molybdenum deficiency in humans is rare because so little is needed. In a healthy state, body tissues contain less than 0.1 parts per million.

Molybdenum cofactor deficiency syndrome has recently been identified as a rare genetic condition that has caused previously unexplained seizures and developmental delays in neonates.

Molybdenum deficiency has been occasionally determined in individuals who have been receiving prolonged total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The symptoms included tachycardia, headache, mental disturbances and coma.

Increased intake of sulfate or copper can cause excess excretion of molybdenum.

It has been stated that molybdenum could be a male reproductive toxicant, affecting sperm quality. [ Ref. ]

Dietary Sources

Good food sources of molybdenum include whole grains, organ meats, leafy green vegetables, legumes, and beans. The availability of molybdenum varies widely because of variations in the molybdenum content of the soil. Vegetables grown in molybdenum-rich soil can contain up to 500 times more molybdenum than those grown in molybdenum-deficient soils.

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