Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOAVAILABILITY AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF PHYTONUTRIENTS

Location: Food Components and Health Laboratory

Title: Molybdenum nutriture in humans

Author
item Novotny, Janet

Submitted to: Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 16, 2011
Publication Date: May 2, 2011
Citation: Novotny Dura, J. 2011. Molybdenum nutriture in humans. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 16(3):164-168.

Interpretive Summary: Molybdenum is an essential dietary element that plays several critical roles supporting life, but is needed in very small (trace) amounts. The best sources of dietary molybdenum are legumes, grains, and nuts. The human body’s ability to absorb molybdenum across the intestinal tract is fairly high, but depends on form, with molybdenum preparations having better absorbability than food-bound molybdenum. Molybdenum deficiency due to inadequate intake is rare, but a molybdenum deficiency disorder can occur due to a genetic defect in the body’s synthesis of the molecule which carries molybdenum when biologically active. Molybdenum toxicity is also rare, occurring primarily in cases of occupational exposure. One reason for the scarcity of cases of molybdenum toxicity and deficiency may be the body’s ability to adapt to a wide range of molybdenum intake levels. At low intakes of molybdenum, the body excretes a smaller percentage in urine, and at high intakes of molybdenum, a larger percentage is excreted via urine while the percentage that is deposited in tissue is decreased. Molybdenum has proven to be an interesting trace mineral which is essential for life. This information will be useful to scientists needing an update on the current state of knowledge of molybdenum in human nutrition.

Technical Abstract: Molybdenum is a trace element that functions as a cofactor for at least four enzymes: sulfite oxidase, xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and mitochondrial amidoxime reducing component. In each case, molybdenum is bound to a complex, multi-ring organic component called molybdopterin, forming the entity molybdenum cofactor. The best sources of dietary molybdenum are legumes, grains, and nuts. Bioavailability of molybdenum is fairly high, but depends on form, with molybdenum preparations having greater bioavailability than food-bound molybdenum. Molybdenum deficiency due to inadequate intake is rare, but a molybdenum deficiency disorder can occur due to a genetic defect in the synthesis of organic portion of the molybdenum cofactor. Molybdenum toxicity is also rare, occurring primarily in cases of occupational exposure. One reason for the scarcity of cases of molybdenum toxicity and deficiency may be the body’s ability to adapt to a wide range of molybdenum intake levels. At low intakes of molybdenum, the fractional transfer of molybdenum from plasma to urine is lower and a greater fraction is deposited into tissues, and at high intakes of molybdenum, the opposite occurs. Molybdenum has proven to be an interesting trace mineral which is essential for life.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014