Molybdenum is a metallic element used in the manufacture of high strength industrial products. Molybdenum is also used in agriculture in many fertilisers.
Molybdenum is commonly found in many plants and animals. In plants and other lower organisms such as bacteria the function is often in nitrogen fixing reactions. In animals and humans molybdenum occurs as a cofactor for several important enzymes.
The molybdenum content of foods varies widely (as with many minerals) depending on the content of the soil. Vegetables which have been grown in neutral or alkaline soils are often rich sources of molybdenum whereas vegetables which have been grown in acid soil may have very low molybdenum content.
Good sources of molybdenum tend to be grains (cereals), organ meats (liver and kidney) and milk and eggs. The level of molybdenum in drinking water is variable.
Except in proven molybdenum deficiency, there are no known therapeutic uses of supplemental molybdenum except perhaps to detoxify excess copper. Molybdenum may however be included in a general multivitamin and minerals supplement to ensure a sufficiency of this mineral. There is some preliminary research which has begun to suggest that molybdenum may be helpful in reducing the risk of sulphite-reactive asthma attacks.
Molybdenum is a relatively safe nutrient. Extremely high intakes (10-15 mg per day) have been associated with high circulating levels of uric acid. High levels of uric acid in the joints can cause gout, a painful arthritic condition.
It has been reported that populations which consume very high levels of molybdenum may have disturbed copper metabolism. Excessive intakes (10-15 mg per day) may impair copper bioavailability. Such high intakes would be very difficult to achieve with normal dietary and supplementation practices.