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Stacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answeredMolybdenum is a mineral that is found in the soil that works to mobilize iron from our liver to the rest of our body. Our bodies need molybdenum in small amounts for growth and health. Most balanced diets will provide enough molybdenum to meet the daily recommended allowance. However, when someone is unable to get enough in his/her regular diet, molybdenum supplements can be recommended. These supplements are usually ingested with an oral multivitamin, but may be injected in some cases.
Molybdenum is a transition metal, and it is required by most organisms, including humans. Molybdenum is found in the earth's crust, soil, and plants, and higher levels are found in the soil of certain areas, such as Australia and New Zealand. In plants, molybdenum is found in higher concentrations in those having symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, such as legumes and leafy vegetables. Molybdenum is also found in animal livers and dairy products. Recommended dietary allowances, tolerable upper intake levels, and adequate intake levels have been established for molybdenum for children, adults, and pregnant or lactating women.
In the human body, molybdenum is considered an essential trace element and plays an important role as a cofactor for several enzymes. Molybdenum deficiency results in decreased activity of these enzymes. Molybdenum and related compounds (thiomolybdate products) have been studied for use in cancer, macular degeneration, cataract prevention, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), symptomatic Wilson's disease (an inherited disorder resulting in too much copper), hypertension, and stroke. Further research is needed.
Adverse effects associated with high doses of molybdenum include decreased copper levels in the body, decreased blood cell production, goutlike symptoms, and central nervous system effects. Also, molybdenum contamination of supplements, foods, and drugs may need to be monitored, due to the possibility of toxic effects at high levels.
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