Molybdenum

background

Molybdenum is a transition metal, and it is required by most organisms, including humans. Molybdenum is found in the earth's crust, soil, and plants, and higher levels are found in the soil of certain areas, such as Australia and New Zealand. In plants, molybdenum is found in higher concentrations in those having symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, such as legumes and leafy vegetables. Molybdenum is also found in animal livers and dairy products. Recommended dietary allowances, tolerable upper intake levels, and adequate intake levels have been established for molybdenum for children, adults, and pregnant or lactating women.
In the human body, molybdenum is considered an essential trace element and plays an important role as a cofactor for several enzymes. Molybdenum deficiency results in decreased activity of these enzymes. Molybdenum and related compounds (thiomolybdate products) have been studied for use in cancer, macular degeneration, cataract prevention, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), symptomatic Wilson's disease (an inherited disorder resulting in too much copper), hypertension, and stroke. Further research is needed.
Adverse effects associated with high doses of molybdenum include decreased copper levels in the body, decreased blood cell production, goutlike symptoms, and central nervous system effects. Also, molybdenum contamination of supplements, foods, and drugs may need to be monitored, due to the possibility of toxic effects at high levels.

Related Terms

Ammonium molybdate, ammonium tetrathiomolybdate, ATN-224, chelated molybdenum, choline tetrathiomolybdate, dithiomolybdate, heptamolybdate, ionic molybdenum, metallic molybdenum, Mo, Mo99, molybdate, molibdeno (Spanish), molybdene, molybdenum citrate, molybdenum picolinate, molybdenum-99, molybdopterine, Molypen, MoO2S2, polyoxomolybdate, sodium molybdate, technetium-99, tetrathiomolybdate, thiomolybdate, TM.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Wilson's disease (symptomatic) (Grade: B)
Wilson's disease is a genetic disease that results in increased copper levels in the body, leading to copper toxicity. Tetrathiomolybdate (TM), a form of molybdenum, has been studied for use in diseases involving copper metabolism, such as Wilson's disease. At this time, evidence in support of TM for Wilson's disease is inconclusive. Further research is warranted.
Cancer (prevention) (Grade: C)
The use of vitamins and minerals to prevent cancer is of interest. Molybdenum has been reported to alter the incidence of esophageal and gastric cancer in several studies. However, many of the studies have been conducted in select populations with a high incidence of these cancers, as well as micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies. Well-designed trials using molybdenum alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.
Cancer (treatment) (Grade: C)
Tetrathiomolybdate (TM), a form of molybdenum, has been studied for use in cancer. At this time, evidence in support of TM for cancer is inconclusive. Further research is warranted.
Cataract (Grade: C)
There is limited information available with respect to molybdenum intake and cataract prevention. Further research is needed.
Cirrhosis (primary biliary) (Grade: C)
Copper accumulation may occur in patients with liver dysfunctions. Molybdenum intake may decrease copper levels and prevent copper accumulation. Further studies are needed.
Dental caries (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that dental caries may be prevented with molybdenum ions. More studies are needed in this area.
Hypertension (Grade: C)
Molybdenum may play a role in blood pressure regulation. However, high-quality research on the effects of molybdenum on blood pressure in humans is lacking. More studies are needed.
Macular degeneration (Grade: C)
There is limited information available with respect to molybdenum intake and macular degeneration. Further trials are warranted.
Mortality (Grade: C)
Decreasing mortality with the use of vitamins and supplements is a commonly studied topic. However, data are limited with respect to molybdenum. More research is needed in this area.
Stroke (Grade: C)
Molybdenum may play a role in blood pressure regulation, which may affect stroke risk. However, information on the effects of molybdenum on stroke risk in humans is lacking. Further studies are warranted.