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Molybdenum Deficiency Symptoms & Causes in Humans

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:

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Molybdenum deficiency

Your body requires molybdenum in trace amounts, though too much of it can be toxic. The soil in some parts of the world is extremely low in molybdenum, reducing its levels in food. Read on to learn about the possible causes and effects of this rare deficiency.

What is Molybdenum?

Molybdenum (Mo) is an essential mineral that most living beings need in very small amounts [1].

Certain enzymes require molybdenum to work properly. Molybdenum helps process sulfur-containing amino acids such as methionine and cysteine. It also helps make uric acid and is part of the tooth enamel [1, 2].

Most people get all the molybdenum they need through food and water. Certain supplements and prescription medications can also contain this mineral [1].

The recommended dietary allowance suggests that adults should get about 45 micrograms of molybdenum each day [3].

In this article, we’ll focus on molybdenum deficiency. For a complete breakdown of the benefits and side effects of molybdenum, check out our this article.

Molybdenum Deficiency

Causes

Deficiencies are very rare as most people get more than enough molybdenum from their diet. In the U.S., the average woman gets about 76 mcg of molybdenum each day while men average about 109 mcg each day. This is well above the recommended dietary allowance of 45 mcg per day [1].

There is one documented case of molybdenum deficiency that occurred under unusual circumstances. A hospital patient was receiving nutrition through an IV when they started experiencing nausea, vision problems, and eventually went into a coma. Doctors soon realized these symptoms were linked to a lack of molybdenum in the patient’s IV nutrition [1].

Molybdenum deficiency is very rare; the vast majority of people get enough molybdenum from their diet.

Health Effects

Because deficiencies are so rare, it’s not entirely clear what happens when we don’t get an adequate amount of molybdenum.

Based on the only documented case of molybdenum deficiency, blood levels of sulfur-containing compounds (methionine and thiosulfate) increase, while uric acid decreases. This may be because molybdenum is responsible for processing sulfur-containing compounds and for producing uric acid [3].

There is also some evidence that molybdenum is linked to dental health. A lack of molybdenum may increase the risk of cavities [2].

Ways to Increase Molybdenum

You receive almost all the molybdenum you need from the food that you eat. But not all foods are made equal when it comes to this mineral. Some good sources include [4]:

  • Seoritae, a type of black soybean
  • Mung beans
  • Peanuts
  • Red beans
  • Pumpkin seeds

Water also contains some molybdenum, although the exact amount can vary greatly depending on the source of the water, surrounding geography, and other factors [5].

Several molybdenum supplements are available in different forms, including:

  • Sodium molybdate
  • Ammonium molybdate
  • Molybdenum aspartate
  • Molybdenum citrate
  • Molybdenum glycinate
  • Molybdenum picolinate

Dosages of supplements can vary greatly, but they typically range from 50 mcg to 1000 mcg. For the vast majority of people, molybdenum supplements are unnecessary. We recommend against supplementation unless specifically recommended by a doctor or nutritionist.

Read here for more information on molybdenum food sources and supplements.

Certain types of beans and seeds can be good sources of molybdenum. Supplements containing molybdenum are also available, but unnecessary for most people.

Takeaway

Molybdenum is an essential micronutrient that supports the activity of enzymes in your body. Most people get enough molybdenum through diet. In fact, deficiencies are extremely rare. The best food sources include mung beans, red beans, and pumpkin seeds.

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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