What is Molybdenum?
Molybdenum is a chemical element and a human needed nutrient just as potassium or sodium. Its chemical symbol is Mo. However, you will not hear too much about molybdenum and its benefits. This may be because molybdenum is a trace element. It is found in very low quantities within the human body. Despite its trace element status it seems that molybdenum is very important for the human body.
There is no clear understanding of the role of molybdenum in humans. However, molybdenum is a key component in many biochemical processes and as a cofactor i n many enzymes that catalyze the conversion of one compound into another one within the cell. For example, the oxidation of xanthine to uric acid is mediated by an enzyme, the xanthine oxidase, which is a molybdenum-containing enzyme. Molybdenum is also implicated in protein synthesis, metabolism and growth. Molybdenum is found in significant quantities in the liver, the kidney, and in bones.
Another hint at the importance of molybdenum in humans can be found in people who have a genetic disease that result in a molybdenum deficiency within their bodies. Babies with congenital molybdenum cofactor deficiency disease have neurological problems.
How can you get Molybdenum in your body?
Foods in your diet is the source of your molybdenum. Molybdenum is a trace element so little is needed for your benefit. In addition, keep in mind that molybdenum is considered to be a toxic element so you should not get more than a certain quantity within your body. The Recommended Daily Amount for molybdenum is 75 mcg. Some foods that are rich in Mo are legumes (beans, black beans), cereals (buckwheat, barley) products, and leafy vegetables.
What is molybdenum used for?
There is some evidence that molybdenum, is involved in detoxifying sulfites which would be a great treatment for people who suffers of asthma attacks due to reactions to sulfites. Also, there is some evidence that people living in areas where the soil has low concentrations of molybdenum have higher incidence of esophageal carcinoma. However, this relationship has not been completely proven. There are also some claims that molybdenum prevent anemia, dental cavities. But there are not scientific proof of those claims.
Molybdenum is one of those nutrients we do not know very much about it. However, as with the case of many other trace elements its importance has still to be evaluated. Until then, it would not be a bad idea to get enough molybdenum in your diet so you can rest assured you are reaping the full benefits of this chemical element.
Kisker et al (1999). Structural comparison of molybdenum cofactor-containing enzymes. FEMS Microbiology Review. 22 (5): 503-521
Reiss, J. (2000). Genetics of molybdenum cofactor deficiency. Human Genetics 106: 157