Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral and may be useful in the treatment of certain cardiovascular conditions, asthma, allergies and mercury toxicity. Because of its involvement with sulfur, it may be warranted for use in cases of asthma that are associated with sulfite sensitivity. Molybdenum is a vital part of three important enzyme systems – xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase – and so has a vital role in uric acid formation, iron utilization, carbohydrate metabolism, and sulfite detoxification.
Aldehyde oxidase helps in the oxidation of carbohydrates and other aldehydes, including acetaldehyde produced from ethyl alcohol.
In the soil and possibly in the body, as the enzyme nitrate reductase, molybdenum can reduce the production or counteract the actions of nitrosamines, known cancer-causing chemicals, especially in the colon. Found more in molybdenum-deficient soils, nitrosamines have been associated with high rates of esophageal cancer.
There are few research findings to suggest that molybdenum may play a role in preventing cancer and definitely none to suppport its use in cancer treatment.
Adding molybdenum to the soil and diet has helped reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer in the Lin Xian area of China's Hunan Province, which had the highest incidence in the world of this deadly disease. It is unlikely, however, that lack of molybdenum in the soil and, thus, in the diet was a direct cause of the cancer; it was probably due to the production of nitrosamines in the soil that could not be metabolized because of a deficiency in the plants' roots activity of the molybdenum enzyme, nitrate reductase. Both vitamin C, which helps detoxify nitrosamine, and nitrate reductase, which needs molybdenum to function, can help reduce the levels of this carcinogenic chemical as it has done for the Chinese esophageal cancer rates secondary to low soil molybdenum. It is also possible that molybdenum can help protect the body from nitrosamine formation after consumption of foods high in nitrates or nitrites, such as lunch meats.
The suggestions that it protects the teeth from dental caries and that it prevents sexual impotence are not yet supported by definitive research.
Sulfites in the urine are indicative of molybdenum need. Urine sulfite dipsticks are available from Meridian Valley Laboratory which can be found on our links page.
Molybdenum by IV administration stimulates sulfite metabolism but it is not very effective orally; oral use should therefore be with the most effective chelates available, such as molybdenum picolinate at 1-3mg per day.
No official USRDA exists for molybdenum, as true deficiencies are rare.
Since high levels of copper in the body or diet may result in molybdenum insufficiency and cause low uric acid levels, reducing copper toxicity can result in normalizing uric acid and molybdenum levels. Intake of molybdenum at doses as low as 0.54mg per day has been associated with an increased loss of copper in the urine.
Uric acid levels can be raised with supplemental molybdenum. While taking molybdenum orally may raise uric acid levels, IV administration may be required in some cases. Further evidence of an interaction comes from a study of men who consumed 10 to 15mg of molybdenum per day for prolonged periods who then developed high serum uric acid levels.
Molybdenum deficiency may be responsible for sulfite sensitivity since it is a cofactor for sulfite oxidase. Sulfite oxidase catalyzes the last step (sulfites to sulfates) in the breakdown of sulfur amino acids. Sulfite oxidase in this way helps to detoxify sulfurs in the body – particularly sulfites – which are used to preserve food. It is possible that adequate tissue levels of molybdenum keep the sulfite oxidase activity levels high enough to counteract this chemical and reduce potential symptoms; molybdenum deficiency may be a factor in those people who are more sensitive to sulfites.
Note, however: Molybdenum deficiency may reduce uric acid formation, which was not previously thought to be a problem, but it may be important to supplement molybdenum to maintain uric acid levels in midnormal range for the antioxidant function as well as possible others.
Margaret Moss, MA, found that taking oral molybdenum over a 28-day period produces a "statistically significant improvement" in patients with arthritis and other aches and pains as well as in their general health. Moss monitored
14 middle-aged people with symptoms of arthritis, low back pain, frozen shoulder, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, as they took 400-500mcg daily (in 4-5 doses of 100mcg) of molybdenum amino acid chelate.