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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Davis, California » Western Human Nutrition Research Center » Obesity and Metabolism Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #176316


item Turnlund, Judith

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2007
Publication Date: 5/25/2007
Citation: Turnlund, J.R., Friberg, L. 2007. Molybdenum. Book Chapter,Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals 3rd Ed. Chapter 34.

Interpretive Summary: Molybdenum is one of the rarest substances on earth, yet small amounts of this mineral are found in nearly all tissues of the human body. Molybdenum is a component of several important interactions that lead to detoxification of the liver. Molybdenum's key function is as a facilitator of liver detoxification. It is also vital for the function of several enzymes in the body, one of which regulates urinary excretion.

Technical Abstract: Molybdenum is an essential element and dietary recommendations have been established. Dietary intakes in humans are usually within the range of the recommendations. Soluble molybdenum compounds are readily absorbed when ingested. The highest molybdenum concentrations are found in the kidneys, liver and bone. Excretion, primarily via the urine, is rapid. The biological half-life ranges from a few hours to a few days. Turnover is much more rapid when intake is high that when intake is low. The metabolism of molybdenum is affected by copper and sulfur intake. In ruminants copper generally has a beneficial effect on the symptoms caused by excessive molybdenum and thiomolybdates increase the excretion of copper. Both positive and negative ef¬fects of the interaction between these three elements have been reported. The effects and their magnitude vary between animal species. In livestock, chronic molybdenum poisoning known as 'teart disease' is caused by a diet high in molybdenum and low in copper. Symptoms include anemia, gastrointestinal disturbances, bone disorders and growth retardation. In laboratory animals, excessive molybdenum may give rise to morphological and functional changes in the liver, kidneys and spleen. It has a growth-depressing action and deformities of bone may occur. A few cases of pneumoconiosis have been reported among workers exposed to metallic molybdenum and molybdenum trioxide. Increased blood uric acid values and gout-like symptoms have been reported among workers exposed to molybdenum in a copper-molybdenum plant as well as among the general pop¬ulation living in an area with high molybdenum and low copper content in soil and vegetables. Molybdenum chemistry, metabolism, toxicity and essentiality have been reviewed by Friberg et al., (1975), Chapell and Petersen (1976, 1977), Mills and Davis (1987), Johnson (1997), Turnlund (2002), and Institute of Medicine (2001).