Molybdenum is a trace, but essential mineral found that occurs naturally in many foods, including beans, lentils, leafy greens, nuts, and organ meats. However, the amount found in plant-based foods depends on the molybdenum content of the soil they were grown in. If you’re deficient of this key nutrient, you can experience metabolic disturbances, leading to headaches, increased heart rate and respiratory rate, seizures, and changes in your vision and brain functioning.
Supplementing with molybdenum has been linked to several health gains, such as cancer prevention, improved circulation, better dental health, and protection against inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. You can supplement with molybdenum on its own, or take a multivitamin that includes it, to ensure you avoid deficiency and don’t miss out on its benefits.
1. Helps Prevent and Treat Cancer Cancer
Getting enough molybdenum helps ensure you’re taking precautions against cancer. According to epidemiological evidence collected in multiple studies, populations living on molybdenum-deficient soil have greater instances of esophageal and rectal cancer. Though this research is still in its infancy, molybdenum supplementation may be a promising treatment for certain cancers. In a study on rats with stomach and esophagus cancer, molybdenum supplements reduced the number of tumors compared to the control .
2. Detoxifies Your Body
Molybdenum is responsible for breaking down a toxin called acetaldehyde into acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is a waste product of Candida, which is a yeast infection that disrupts the balance in the body. Acetaldehyde is also a product of alcohol consumption. Whereas acetaldehyde can’t be excreted and poisons the tissues it accumulates in; acetic acid is a compound the body easily excretes. In this way, molybdenum helps the body detoxify a harmful toxin .
3. Protects Against Common Diseases
Molybdenum lowers levels of copper in your body, making it effective in the prevention and treatment of fibrotic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Studies show that the form of molybdenum called tetrathiomolybdate significantly stops the development of lung and liver fibrosis. Tetrathiomolybdate is also shown to help prevent liver damage from acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, and reduce heart damage caused by the antibiotic drug doxorubicin . Finally, it helps protect against diabetes by reducing high spikes in blood sugar levels .
4. Helps Eliminate Sulfites
Sulfites are food preservatives that contain sulfur. They’re used as anti-browning agents for foods and drinks like bottled juices, beer, wine, dried fruits, meat, and sauerkraut. Consuming these products that are high in sulfites can cause them to build up in the body and trigger a condition called “sulfite sensitivity,” which includes symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, wheezing, tingling sensations and hives. Some people are allergic to sulfites, in which case sulfite reactions can even be fatal [5, 6]. Also, in some people with asthma, sulfites from food can trigger asthma attacks. Molybdenum supplementation is shown to help reduce these attacks in people with sulfite-sensitive asthma .
By activating an enzyme called sulfite oxide, molybdenum helps turn sulfites into sulfates, which allows these food additives to leave the body instead of accumulate and cause toxicity. By removing the buildup of sulfite in the body, molybdenum not only reduces sulfite sensitivity but also help improves the health of your liver, which in turns improves your body’s ability to detoxify the body .
5. Balances Uric Acid Levels
Uric acid is a waste product of metabolism found in blood and excreted through urine. Molybdenum deficiency causes low uric acid levels, which is linked to mental decline, neurological problems and ocular lens dislocation. Low uric acid levels have also been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis . Although high levels of uric acid are associated with several health problems, a certain amount is required in the bloodstream for healthy functioning. Without enough molybdenum to balance uric acid levels, uric acid insufficiency can pose a threat to your health .
6. Improves Circulation
Molybdenum also improves circulation, by assisting with the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is needed to dilate blood vessels, regulate the growth of cells and protect blood vessels from injury. All these factors help increase the flow of blood throughout your body. This, in turn, results in better organ functioning, cognitive performance, and overall health, thanks to the increase in oxygen and nutrients delivered to cells throughout the body .
7. Improves Dental Health
Molybdenum strengthens the protective enamel of your teeth, which helps prevent tooth decay. As a result, higher intakes of molybdenum have been linked to lower rates of cavities . In a study, researchers treated the enamel of cow teeth with molybdenum and fluoride. The results showed that molybdenum helped heal cavities by boosting the rate of mineral repair . Thus, getting enough molybdenum in your diet or through supplementation can help ensure your teeth stay healthy.
Molybdenum Sources and Doses
Because molybdenum is a trace element, it’s only required by the body in small amounts. Too much can cause negative effects, including gout. Molybdenum is safe for adults to take in amounts under 2 mg a day, whereas the minimum amount you need each day is 50 micrograms (mcg). You can increase your intake of molybdenum by eating more foods rich in this mineral, taking a molybdenum supplement or supplementing with a multivitamin that contains molybdenum .