Molybdenum: Function, Deficiency & Benefits

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  • 0:05 Molybdenum Benefits
  • 0:45 Function
  • 1:54 Deficiency
  • 2:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

Molybdenum is an essential nutrient. In this lesson we will learn how it is used in the body, how we develop a deficiency and what happens when we have a deficiency.

Molybdenum Benefits

There are 41 nutrients that have been identified as essential in our bodies. These nutrients are considered essential because our body can't make them, yet they are necessary for specific functions in our body. Molybdenum is one of these essential nutrients. We need to have around 50 micrograms of molybdenum every day. The typical American diet contains around 90 micrograms of molybdenum per day, so we typically aren't at risk for molybdenum deficiency.

Molybdenum helps with energy production, by breaking down some of the amino acids; cell protection, by activating antioxidants; and waste removal, by metabolizing toxins that can be excreted in urine.


We know and understand three enzymes that molybdenum is present in:

  1. Sulfite oxidase
  2. Xanthine oxidase
  3. Aldehyde oxidase

Sulfite oxidase helps sulfite transform into sulfate. When our bodies metabolize methionine and cysteine, the sulfur-containing amino acids, we end up with sulfite, which can be toxic in the body when built up. Sulfite oxidase turns the sulfite into sulfate, which can be safely removed from the body.

This is how molybdenum plays a role in energy production. Without this enzyme, the sulfite from the metabolism of methionine and cysteine would build up to a dangerous level in our bodies.

Xanthine oxidase breaks down nucleotides into uric acid. Specifically adenine, a nucleotide, is turned into xanthine which then becomes uric acid. This is important because uric acid can act as an antioxidant. Our body often becomes oxidized, which can be damaging. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage. Xanthine oxidase also plays a role in the breakdown of several different toxins, working with aldehyde oxidase. Aldehyde oxidase helps break down several different types of toxins including several drugs.

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