Molybdenum: The Important Mineral That Nutritionists Forgot

Molybdenum: The Important Mineral That Nutritionists Forgot

More and more people are developing sulfite sensitives, copper imbalance, and suffering from mold detoxing issues. Can all of these issues stem from the increased need for a relatively unknown mineral?

Yes, the important mineral mentioned above is known as molybdenum. It is one of my main beliefs that people need to know about this trace mineral now more than ever.

What is Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a mineral that is not found freely in nature. Molybdenum can be easily sourced from the metal ore molybdenite. It was once used in pencils and is easily confused with graphite. Molybdenum was successfully isolated by the Swedish chemist Peter J. Hjelm in 1781. Molybdenum is currently used to produce certain metal alloys mainly used in the production of military weapons. Molybdenum containing alloys have increased strength and corrosion resistive properties. Finally, molybdenum is also used as a natural plant fertilizer. 1 2

What are Dietary Sources of Molybdenum

Molybdenum absorption is limited somewhat from food ingestion by phytic acid. Phytic acid is a storage form of phosphorus and inositol (inositol hexakisphosphate) in plants that are not in general bioavailable through ingestion. Phytic acid is an excellent chelator and binds itself to other minerals found inside plants for storage that also makes their bioavailability less through ingestion. 3 4

Soy contains large amounts of molybdenum, but one human study showed that less than half of it is absorbed by the body when ingested, hindered by phytic acid. In comparison molybdenum found in kale seems to be at least 85% bioavailable to the body per the same study. 5

Dietary sources of molybdenum that would not be bound by large amounts of phytic acid include: 6

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Cow Liver
  • Chicken Liver
  • Kale
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Milk

Why is Supplementing With Molybdenum so Important?

Molybdenum is important in the production of four main enzymes in the body known as molybdoenzymes.

  • Sulfite oxidase – Sulfite oxidase is produced by the body to catalyze the transformation of sulfites into sulfates what are eliminated from the body. Ingested sulfites themselves are recognized as strong food allergens for a lot of people which in some cases may stem from minor molybdenum deficiencies causing less production of sulfite oxidase by the body. Sulfite oxidase is important for the metabolism of all ingested sulfur from the diet including sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine and cysteine). Finally, sulfite oxidase is important for mitochondrial function because it helps transfer produced electrons to the electron transport chain that eventually generates ATP. 7 8
  • Xanthine oxidase – Xanthine oxidase is produced by the body to catalyze the breakdown of nucleotides to form the primary human antioxidant uric acid. Though uric acid is very important as an antioxidant, too much may crystallize in joints and cause gout. It has been documented in a few case reports that too much molybdenum may cause gout-like symptoms, possibly from the over production of xanthine oxidase and, therefore, uric acid 9 10
  • Aldehyde oxidase & Aldehyde dehydrogenase – Aldehyde oxidase and aldehyde dehydrogenase are produced by the body to breakdown aldehydes that many are known toxic compounds including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Consumption of alcohol requires ample amounts of aldehyde oxidase and aldehyde dehydrogenase to convert acetaldehydes produced from ethanol detoxification by the liver into carboxylic acids that can be used by the body. Mold and yeast also produce a lot of aldehydes that require these enzymes to help detoxify. 11 12 13 14 15

Molybdenum is also used to produce lesser molybdoenzymes including:

  • DMSO Reductase – Some people supplement with DMSO as a way to bypass our natural skin barrier and absorb topically applied supplements directly into the venous system to help fight against cancer or reduce inflammation from arthritis. Molybdenum helps make the enzyme that is necessary to break it down into dimethyl sulfide so that it is eliminated from the body. 16

Should You Supplement With Molybdenum?

Most people get adequate amounts of molybdenum in their diet. Depending on the region of the world you live in though (like some parts of China and Iran,) the soil might be depleted in molybdenum, and you may not be able to get adequate amounts from food. Lack of proper intake of molybdenum from the diet has been linked to increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. 17

It may be possible for people who are alcoholics, suffer from yeast and fungal infections, or suffer from mold toxicity might have depleted amounts of molybdenum. People suffering from these conditions may have an excessive need for molybdenum to produce the necessary enzymes and develop a deficit.

When you drink alcohol if your face flushes excessively, or you have developed allergies to sulfur or sulfite containing foods and beverages you might also have depleted amounts of molybdenum and may need to supplement. 18 19

The Different Supplemental Forms of Molybdenum

  • Ammonium Molybdate / Potassium Molybdate / Sodium Molybdate – Not the best-absorbed forms of molybdenum that should be avoided if possible.
  • Molybdenum Yeast – A “natural” form of molybdenum that is claimed to be very easily assimilated by the body. What would possibly be wrong with recommending the chelation you may ask? Molybdenum yeast is found in most of your “natural” vitamins including New Chapter, Garden of Life, and Megafood.
    The main problem I have with this form of molybdenum is that you have to ingest a lot of brewer’s yeast (that some people are sensitive to) in the whole supplement to only get a tiny amount of molybdenum. There are just a lot better options for molybdenum supplementation out there.
  • Molybdenum Aspartate – Excess aspartic acid may be neurotoxic. 20 Avoid if possible.
  • Molybdenum Citrate – Molybdenum citrate is molybdenum chelated with citric acid. Molybdenum citrate has average absorption and slightly increases stomach acid levels.
  • Molybdenum Picolinate – Molybdenum picolinate is a molybdenum supplement that is chelated with picolinic acid. Picolinic acid is a compound that is an isomer of niacin and is a carbolite of the amino acid tryptophan. Molybdenum picolinate has superior absorption.
  • Molybdenum Glycinate – The most bioavailable form of molybdenum. The bounded glycine helps with sleep and provides a calm feeling.

Molybdenum Toxicity and Supplemental Recommendations

Molybdenum toxicity occurs very rarely through the diet. Toxicity can occur however if too much is supplemented. 21

Gout like symptoms from elevated uric acid levels may occur if one is taking 10 – 15 milligrams of molybdenum daily that is a fairly high dose. Anemia may also occur from long-term ingestion of large amounts of supplemental molybdenum because of its iron binding capabilities. Blood and urinary uric acid levels seem not to be increased if supplementing less than 1.5 mg daily. 22

Symptoms of acute toxicity include decreased appetite, listlessness, weakness, fatigue, anorexia, headache, arthritis, myalgia, chest pain, nonproductive cough, and diarrhea. Symptoms of severe toxicity include psychosis, seizures, anxiety, severe depression, changes in mood, headaches, coma, and death. 23

One of the most widespread cautionary tales of supplementing with molybdenum is possible psychosis toxicity. Psychosis toxicity did occur in one gentleman that supplemented a milligram of molybdenum daily for 18 days in a widely known case report. It is a possibility that the man in the case study was not able to clear the molybdenum properly from his system because he had a very high amount per milliliter of blood. In addition, the molybdenum that he was consuming from the supplement might have been much higher than what was on the label because of a manufacturing error. Either way, this is one case compared to millions of people that ingest molybdenum supplements or amounts in their supplements daily and appears to be a single event. 24

To prevent against molybdenum toxicity I recommend taking one milligram of molybdenum every other day or at the most every day if needed. Molybdenum may interfere with copper metabolism, through reduction of ceurloplasmin, so use with caution if you have copper metabolism issues. Supplementation of magnesium while taking molybdenum may increase ceurloplasmin activity enough to offset this issue. The inhibition of ceurloplasmin may happen only occur in females, more studies are needed to determine the relationship between molybdenum and ceurloplasmin.25 26

  1. http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/L-P/Molybdenum.html
  2. http://www.chemicool.com/elements/molybdenum.html
  3. http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts
  4. http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/
  5. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CGwQFjAL&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nal.usda.gov%2Ffnic%2FDRI%2FDRI_Vitamin_A%2F420-441_150.pdf&ei=au73VNmlB8SfgwTdr4CwBA&usg=AFQjCNGwIL0s5NTyBsbBYLUnXWpxcM0UJQ&sig2=zA9ZEmrz2YaKNl7X-HWPIg&bvm=bv.87519884,d.eXY
  6. http://wholefoodcatalog.info/nutrient/molybdenum/foods/high/1/
  7. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6715303
  9. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  10. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CHMQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Foccmed.oxfordjournals.org%2Fcontent%2F55%2F2%2F145.full.pdf&ei=cREBVdeTM4GdgwSSuITADg&usg=AFQjCNGVo5jbgAX1CUVfSiGStwGlE1yuGw&sig2=yQuj3SvcftKtT_C_3PO10w&bvm=bv.87920726,d.eXY
  11. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  12. http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Molybdenum_BiomonitoringSummary.html
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15099407
  14. http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/ALDEHYDES.htm
  15. http://www.vrp.com/digestive-health/a-health-destroying-toxin-we-cant-avoid-and-must-detoxify
  16. http://www.imoa.info/HSE/environmental_data/biology/reviews-of-molybdoenzymes/08-dimethyl-sulfoxide-DMSO-reductase.php
  17. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  18. http://www.thecandidadiet.com/molybdenum.htm
  19. http://www.vrp.com/digestive-health/a-health-destroying-toxin-we-cant-avoid-and-must-detoxify
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6108/
  21. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  22. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/
  23. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhrcak.srce.hr%2Ffile%2F4533&ei=aAsDVcSRJIjYggTkuIPoCA&usg=AFQjCNFKYP0fCoTLBt1oMk1uOiFJLdhdJQ&sig2=LugucjwwE144hMhCXiXYMQ&bvm=bv.88198703,d.eXY
  24. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhrcak.srce.hr%2Ffile%2F4533&ei=aAsDVcSRJIjYggTkuIPoCA&usg=AFQjCNFKYP0fCoTLBt1oMk1uOiFJLdhdJQ&sig2=LugucjwwE144hMhCXiXYMQ&bvm=bv.88198703,d.eXY
  25. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/004896978390013X
  26. http://bu.edu.eg/portal/uploads/Veterinary%20Medicine/Animal%20medicine/321/publications/Mohamed%20Mohamedy%20Ghanem_Heba%20research%20in%20zoology%202013.pdf
10 Comments
  1. Hi John

    What about Redheads and people with the MC1R gene getting Xanthine gout mimicking Fibromyalgia? Will Molybdenum alleviate those simptoms and also get rid of the excess copper they store that cannot be used as it is not available in the blood? I have read that readheads are also prone to getting Parkinsons.

    • Molybdenum might interfere with ceurloplasmin and cause further issues. Look into the work of Morley Robbins and work to increase ceurloplasmin, to secrete excess unbonded copper and to get the body to use it properly.

    • Possibly, but what about looking into the work of Morley Robbins, and correct ceurloplasmin for proper copper metabolism. Increasing magnesium intake may help.

  2. Dear John, I am purchasing a multivitamin that contains 75 mcg molybdenum glycinate chelate.

    I have copper overload (hair analyzis)

    Is 75 mcg safe?

    Regards, Manon (Canada)

  3. I have Parkinson and asparagus relieves my tremors. As a Ph.D., Inorganic Chem Ga. Tech 1974, I have concluded that the dithiol in asparagus is chelating the copper. Excess copper (“free copper”) exist in all old folks and currently the literature for Alzheimer is recommending a low copper diet. MoS4 (-2) is used to treat Wilson Disease. It removes the copper by forming a Cu-S-Mo bond, that passes into the bile. Research on sheep (the origin of MoS4) show that the Mo-S bond is the key.

    Is there a Mo-S supplement? If you wish an essay on asparagus and Parkinson,I will gladly email the current edition. Joseph E. Wreen, Ph.D.

    • To my knowledge no, and there is not a straight molybdenum sulfate supplement you can even try. Sure e-mail it to me at John@fixyourgut.com. I would ask your doctor to test your ceuroplasmin levels to determine copper status and look into supplementing low doses of zinc. Avoid large doses of ascorbic acid if you are having copper issues.

  4. Did I get it right that copper is part of the detoxification process in the liver?

    Which amount ob molybdenum do you recommend if someone was exposed to mold (for a long time)?

    • Yes, but most people have too much copper and not enough ceruloplasmin. I would talk to your doctor about taking 1 mg every other day at least for two months.

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