Molybdenum: Deficiency & Toxicity Symptoms

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  • 0:02 Molybdenum
  • 1:32 Deficiency
  • 3:02 Toxicity
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Learn how the trace mineral molybdenum acts as a cofactor for enzymes that carry out important life functions and what signs and symptoms may arise if you take in too little or too much molybdenum in your daily diet.


If you were to look at the periodic table, you could probably pick out a few of the mineral elements that are found in the foods you eat. For example, most of us recognize calcium because we have all heard the milk commercials that tell us to drink up so we can get calcium for strong bones. Some of you might also notice iron, that your body takes in from meats and uses to make healthy blood cells, and iodine, that you get from iodized salt so your body can keep your thyroid gland functioning properly. But, as you continue to look over the periodic table, I am guessing that molybdenum, did not jump out at you as a trace mineral needed by your body. Yet, molybdenum is one of the 20 or so inorganic minerals found on the periodic table considered to be essential to life.

You get molybdenum from food sources such as legumes, which include beans, lentils, and peas, as well as nuts, cereal grains, and liver. Now molybdenum is a trace mineral, which means that you need very little each day to meet your body's needs. In fact, you can meet your entire daily requirement by snacking on a cup of peanuts, or if you prefer, you could have liver as the main entree for dinner tonight; the choice is up to you. Let's take a look at what molybdenum does for your body and what might happen if you have too little or too much inside.


Molybdenum acts as a cofactor, meaning it's a molecule that increases the rate of reaction of an enzyme. So you can think of molybdenum as a little pep pill that certain enzymes take that springs them into action. Enzymes involved in important life functions rely on molybdenum for this boost. These include the enzymes involved in the metabolism of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine, which are important for protein production. Without molybdenum acting as a cofactor, this metabolic function cannot be performed properly.

Molybdenum also helps with some janitorial tasks within your body as it helps with the production of uric acid. Uric acid is a waste product produced by metabolic processes in your body. So molybdenum helps sweep up all of the byproducts of the work done by your cells and then packages them up as uric acid that is all set to be eliminated by your body.

Because you need very little molybdenum from your diet, and because it's easily absorbed by your body, molybdenum deficiency is rarely seen. However, if a deficiency were to occur, it could interfere with the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids and interfere with uric acid production. These issues could possibly lead to symptoms such as headaches, seizures, visual changes, and neurological disorders.

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