Molybdenum Requirements and Dietary Sources

Canned beans and lentils are a good source of molybdenum.

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Molybdenum is a trace mineral that your body uses in small amounts. It's a necessary component of three enzymes your body uses to metabolize amino acids, produce uric acid, and to break down drugs and toxins.

Dietary molybdenum is found in the largest amounts in peas, lentils and other legumes, and grains. It's also found in fruits, vegetables and many foods of animal origin. The molybdenum content of plant sources of foods is based on how much of the mineral is in the soil where the plants are grown. But you only need a tiny amount – and it's easily absorbed – so you're probably getting plenty from the foods you're eating. 

The Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine determines the dietary reference intakes for vitamins and minerals. These DRIs are based on the nutritional needs of the average healthy person. The DRIs for molybdenum are based on age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need just a little more.

Dietary Reference Intakes 

1 to 3 years: 17 micrograms per day
4 to 8 years: 22 micrograms per day
9 to 13 years: 34 micrograms per day
14 to 18 years: 43 micrograms per day
19+ years: 45 micrograms per day
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 50 micrograms per day

Molybdenum deficiency is exceedingly rare – you don't need to bother with molybdenum supplements. 

Also, overdoses from food or supplements are rare. In fact, only one case has been reported in the research literature. A male in his late thirties consumed large amounts of molybdenum over the course of about two weeks and suffered from psychoses, seizures, and hallucinations. While some experts believe that people who are deficient in copper may be at a higher risk of molybdenum toxicity, it's just too rare to have any real idea.

Although toxicity is unlikely, the Institute of Medicine set the tolerable upper limit for adults at 2,000 micrograms per day. That means that to the best of anyone's knowledge, supplemental amounts up to 2,000 micrograms per day don't cause any health problems in adults. 

There's no reason to take molybdenum supplements, so if you're thinking about taking them, please speak with your health care provider to find out if they're necessary.

Environmental Exposure

Molybdenum toxicity can occur if you work in places where it's processed. This type of inhaled environmental exposure may cause weakness, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite and muscle pain.

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