Molybdenum | The nutritional source

Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral found naturally in foods and available in supplements. It is a component of four different enzymes in the body that help break down proteins, alcohol, drugs, and toxins. Enzymes containing molybdenum also break down purines and sulfites. Purines are compounds metabolized from foods that form uric acid, which at high levels is a risk factor for gout. Sulfites are a preservative added to certain foods to maintain their color and shelf life. some people develop sensitivity to sulfites, causing an allergic reaction. Molybdenum is stored in the liver, kidneys and bones. The kidneys are good at removing excess amounts from the body if they are not needed.

Recommended amounts

GDR: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adult men and women 19 years and older is 45 micrograms per day. People 14 years and older who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 50 micrograms a day.

UL: The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects. The UL for molybdenum for adults 19 years and older and pregnant and nursing women is 2,000 micrograms per day.

Molybdenum and health

No research is available on molybdenum as a treatment for specific diseases or health conditions in humans. [1]

Food sources

Molybdenum is found primarily in legumes, but is also available in whole grains and beef liver. [1] The amount found in food varies depending on the amount present in the soil and water in which the food was grown.

  • Legumes: black-eyed peas, lima beans, peanuts
  • Liver of beef
  • Dairy products: plain yogurt, milk
  • Potato with skin
  • Enriched Whole Cereals
  • whole wheat bread
  • Bananas

Signs of deficiency and toxicity


Molybdenum deficiency is extremely rare in the United States. Rare cases have been reported in infants with a genetic condition in which the mineral cannot be utilized and therefore cannot break down sulfites, which can lead to brain damage and seizures. Deficiency has also been observed in people receiving intravenous nutrition in which additional molybdenum was not added.

Signs of deficiency include:

  • Convulsions, death in infants
  • Irregular Heartbeat in Adults


Toxicity is rare in healthy individuals. It has been reported in people with occupations such as mining and metallurgy that expose them to excessive amounts of minerals, or in areas of the world with higher levels of molybdenum in the soil. Symptoms include painful joints, gout-like symptoms, and high uric acid levels. [1] However, food toxicity is very unusual because the kidneys are very efficient at excreting any excess.

Did you know?

Although a handful of studies have linked very high intakes of molybdenum to high levels of uric acid, copper deficiency and infertility, subsequent research has not confirmed these findings, the negative effects being more frequently observed in animal research than in humans. [2]

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The content of this website is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any product.

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