Molybdenum. A mineral so unfamiliar to most people, they wonder at first if the word itself is a work of fiction. While we don’t know quite as much about this metallic substance yet as we’d like to, we do know it is a part of keeping us healthy and feeling good.
Read on to discover more about molybdenum; what it is, how it helps our bodies, where to find it, what happens if you don’t get enough.
What Is Molybdenum?
Molybdenum is an element with properties similar to that of metal. Considered a trace mineral , it is needed in small amounts in order for our bodies to properly function. In fact, molybdenum is necessary for all plant and animal life, human or otherwise.
Scientists have only begun studying molybdenum and its effects on our body and health in the last few years. As of now, we do not have a completely clear picture of the potential this mineral has for our health, and it is even being investigated as a form of medical therapy for cancer patients.
What we do know about it is this: the jobs it perform in our body are crucial to our optimal health and without it we would quickly become ill.
What Is Its Biological Role?
In humans, molybdenum’s job is to help catalyze certain biochemical reactions  that help protect our bodies from harm. A catalyst is something that helps to cause a chemical reaction, or create an environment that encourages the reaction.
Specifically, molybdenum attaches itself to a compound known as sulfite oxidase. Together, these two are responsible for the creation of special amino acids that help metabolize the foods we eat and convert them into useable energy.
Our bodies only absorb about one tenth of the molybdenum we ingest through our diets; the rest is typically excreted in our urine. What little molybdenum we do store in our bodies is typically stored within our liver, kidneys, bones, and certain glands.
Molybdenum also works alongside riboflavin–also known as vitamin B2–to help ensure that iron binds to hemoglobin in appropriate amounts. This activity supports normal red blood cell levels.
How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?
There is no currently recognized benefit of molybdenum for any one particular section of the human population. It is necessary, even in such small amounts, for every single person to feel their best and to remain healthy.
Research on this enigmatic trace mineral is still being conducted though; only time will tell what other secrets molybdenum has to reveal to us about our own physiology.
What Foods Contain It?
Molybdenum finds its way into the foods we eat through the soil that those foods are grown in. It is taken in by the roots of the plant in the same manner as water from soil. This means that levels of molybdenum are not necessarily consistent in a given food because the molybdenum content of the soil that food grows in can vary.
Variances are caused by a variety of factors, including geographic location and during what time of year the crop was grown. However, there are a few foods generally known to be good sources of dietary molybdenum. These are: beans, lentils, peas, leafy vegetables, and whole grain cereals.
How Much Of It Do You Need?
For infants, the recommended daily allowance of molybdenum  is 2mcg per day. After a child’s first six months this begins increasing steadily until they reach adulthood.
For adults aged 19 years and older, the recommended daily allowance of molybdenum is 45mcg per day. For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding the recommended daily allowance is slightly higher at 50mcg per day.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?
It is difficult to consume enough molybdenum to produce toxic effects in the body. In order to do so you would have to consume an extremely high amount (over 10mg) each day over an extended period of time.
Only then would you begin to feel symptoms such as dizziness, tiredness, joints that are swollen and painful, and a condition that mimics gout. Molybdenum toxicity can also cause a copper deficiency, which would bring additional symptoms and complicate correcting the mineral imbalance.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?
Molybdenum deficiency is so rare that it is typically only seen in people who have extremely rare genetic disorders that specifically prevent the body from absorbing molybdenum.
Symptoms of a deficiency would include night blindness, complications of sulfite sensitivity because molybdenum is responsible for removing it, racing heart, hyperventilation, various mouth and gum sicknesses, and impotence.
Only time will tell if additional research into this trace mineral that helps fuel such minute reactions in our bodies may be responsible for other functions or even offer special benefits.
In ten years, we may see it being administered to cancer patients to help protect them from the ill effect of chemotherapy. For now, it’s important to ensure we are eating a wide variety of wholesome foods to ensure we get enough molybdenum to keep our bodies running smoothly.
References: WebMD. Minerals: Their Functions and Sources- Topic Overview. Webmd.com, 2014.  Anne, Melodie. How Does Molybdenum Help The Body?. Livestrong.com, 2015.  WebMD. Molybdenum: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, and Warnings. Webmd.com, 2015.