Molybdenum is a very important mineral that plays a key role in many of the biological functions of your body. In the human body, it functions mainly as a vital cofactor of enzymes and also helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. We need only a very small amount of this mineral, which can easily be obtained by eating a healthy diet. Even though food is the main source of molybdenum, you can also get it in the supplement form. Leafy vegetables, legumes like peas, cereals, beans and lentils, nuts and grains are some of the food items from which molybdenum can be obtained. Liver is also a great source of this mineral. Studies suggest that a deficiency of molybdenum in the diet may increase the risk of many health problems.
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Why is molybdenum important for you?
As mentioned earlier, the main function of molybdenum is to serve as a catalyst for the various enzymes and to aid in the breakdown of proteins and amino acids, which is essential for maintaining the health of your body. It helps in activating enzymes that have powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help in fighting off the free radical that causes cell damage that could lead to many health problems and diseases including the deadly cancer. The high antioxidant property of molybdenum thus helps in offering protection to your cells and DNA. This mineral is also needed for helping the cells to produce energy that is needed to carry out the various biological functions and processes in your body. Another important function of molybdenum is that it aids in the removal of wastes from your body. It does this by activating enzymes that are responsible for waste removal. It also helps in metabolizing the byproducts of digestion and other toxic substances created in your body, so that it can easily be filtered and removed.
How much molybdenum do you need?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of molybdenum for both men and women is 45 mcg per day. Pregnant and breast feeding women require about 50 mcg of this mineral a day. However the average intake of this mineral happens to be well above the recommended amount for most people. As a result, cases of molybdenum deficiency occur extremely rarely. Although molybdenum is an essential mineral, its overdose (more than 2000mcg a day) can be toxic and lead to organ damage, gout like symptoms, deficiencies of other minerals, neurological dysfunctions and even seizures. The good news is that unless you take too much supplements, such overdose cases will not happen.
Health Benefits of molybdenum
Scientists have been carrying out several studies on the importance of molybdenum for the past 20 years. These studies suggest that this mineral is required for maintaining optimal health, and its deficiency may trigger various health problems. Some of the benefits of molybdenum are outlined below.
Molybdenum helps to prevent anemia
Molybdenum may help in preventing anemia by helping to mobilize iron from your body‘s iron store. Anemia is a common condition characterized by insufficient levels of healthy red blood cells. These cells are extremely important as they are responsible for carrying oxygen to the various parts of your body. Molybdenum works along with riboflavin or vitamin B2 to integrate iron into hemoglobin, thereby contributing to the production of red blood cells.
Molybdenum helps to alleviate allergies and asthma
Molybdenum is beneficial in relieving the symptoms of asthma caused by sulfites. Sulfites are chemicals that are mostly used to preserve food and also to inhibit the discoloration of certain types of foods. These chemicals can cause symptoms of asthma (wheezing) and allergies (hives, itching, fainting, and breathing difficulties) in people who are sensitive to sulfites. Molybdenum acts as a cofactor for the enzyme sulfite oxidase that helps in breaking down the sulfite that is formed inside the body. This mineral converts the sulfites into sulfates that are harmless to the body.
Molybdenum helps in detoxifying the body
Acetaldehyde is a poisonous substance that is released in your body as a by-product of fungi, yeast, and alcohol metabolism. The presence of this substance in your body is likely to increase your risk of developing diseases like cancer. It puts extra stress on your kidneys and is also responsible for slowing sown the conversion of linoleic acid to form gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is a very important fatty acid that has potent anti-inflammatory effects and aids in protecting you from several diseases and health problems. Molybdenum is known to play a vital role in the production of aldehyde oxidase, which helps in detoxifying acetaldehyde.
Molybdenum and dental health
Molybdenum is abundantly found in tooth enamel and is considered to assist in preventing dental caries and tooth decay. In fact, a deficiency of molybdenum has also been associated with the occurrence of cavities and tooth decay. According to studies, when the intake of this mineral has been found low, the rate of developing cavities has been higher and when molybdenum intake has been higher, the cavity rate was found to be lower. Molybdenum is known to increase the effects of fluoride on the teeth because the combination of molybdenum and fluoride is more effective in contributing to dental health and in lowering dental cavities than just fluoride alone.
Molybdenum may prevent cancer
Molybdenum may help with the prevention of certain types of cancers, although according to the American Cancer Society more studies and data are required. Research suggests that this mineral may function as an antioxidant and help in preventing the damages caused to your cells and DNA by the harmful free radicals. Tetrathiomolybdate is a form of molybdenum that is considered to be beneficial for the treatment of cancer as it makes it easier for the patients to endure the effects of chemotherapy medications. By depleting the amount of copper levels in the cells of your body, molybdenum helps in preventing the growth of cancerous cells. Linxian is a region in the north central part of China, where the rate of stomach and esophageal cancers were found to be high among the residents. Studies reveal that such high incidences of these two types of cancers in this area may be due to the low concentration of molybdenum in the soil.
Molybdenum for the treatment of Wilson’s disease
Wilson’s disease is a genetic disorder characterized by the accumulation of copper, resulting in the increase in copper levels and its toxicity in the body. Excess levels of copper in the body may lead to damage of the brain and liver and also various neurological complications. Tetrathiomolybdate, a form of molybdenum is found to be safe and effective in the treatment of copper toxicity in patients suffering from Wilson’s disease. Tetrathiomolybdate works by forming a complex with food proteins and copper, and thus makes copper unavailable from being absorbed in to the bloodstream.
Molybdenum helps in relieving pains and aches
Taking molybdenum supplements for a period of 4 weeks has been found to be effective in relieving aches and pains and also in improving the overall health of your body. This mineral has also been found to improve many of the symptoms associated with lumbago, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of molybdenum deficiency
Human beings need only a small amount of molybdenum and most people get the daily required amount from the foods they eat. As such, supplementation of this mineral is not normally needed. Cases of molybdenum deficiency occur very rarely, except in such cases of prolonged intravenous feeding or where the individual has a genetic problem that does not allow the body to absorb molybdenum from food. People whose diet mainly consists of refined or processed foods are also exposed to lower levels of molybdenum in their bodies. Intake of high levels of sulfur can cause reduction in the levels of molybdenum and may lead to its deficiency. The symptoms associated with the deficiency of molybdenum include night blindness, increased heart rate or respiratory rate, sexual impotence in older men, mouth and gum problems and sulfite sensitivity.
Side effects of molybdenum overdose
Molybdenum is normally considered to be a safe mineral since there is not much evidence that points out its toxicity even when the amount consumed is more than the required daily allowance. However, too much intake of molybdenum (more than 10 mg a day) for a prolonged period of time may turn toxic and lead to the development of symptoms similar to that of gout such as pain and inflammation of joints.
Some of the other symptoms associated with molybdenum overdose and toxicity include rashes, dizziness, and tiredness. Molybdenum is known to affect the metabolism of copper in your body. Excess amounts of this mineral can thus lead to lack of copper, which is likely to lower the count of red blood cells or the white blood cells.
As an essential trace mineral, molybdenum plays numerous roles in the various biological functions that take place regularly in your body. It is involved in almost everything including cell protection, production of energy and removal of waste products from the body. Although not a lot is known about molybdenum, one thing which is clear is that this mineral has utmost importance in keeping your body healthy and disease free.