Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral. Deficiency of molybdenum is rare, but may occur in certain parts of the world. Current marketing of molybdenum products for the treatment of medical conditions is not founded on any meaningful scientific evidence.
Molybdenum is found in a variety of foods, including dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Mineral water or “hard” tap water may also supply significant amounts of molybdenum.
Deficiency of molybdenum is believed to be rare. Although accurate “recommended daily intake” levels for molybdenum have not been determined, less precise “safe and adequate intake” levels have been set in the U.S. as follows:
There are no known uses of molybdenum that would suggest doses other than the “safe and adequate” levels noted in the previous section.
Molybdenum is marketed both as a tablet and as a liquid supplement containing the mineral in dissolved form. Despite widespread claims, there is no evidence that one form of molybdenum is absorbed to a markedly superior extent than any other.
Websites that advocate molybdenum products make numerous health claims that lack scientific foundation. Some of these unsupported claims include the following:
None of these claims have any scientific support, and some (such as “regulating the body’s pH) make no sense from a scientific point of view.
Additionally, it is often stated by some manufacturers of molybdenum products that a variety of disease are commonly caused or worsened by molybdenum deficiency. These include acne, allergies, asthma, athlete's foot, Bell's palsy, bladder infection, candidiasis, canker sores, depression, diabetes, eczema, gulf war syndrome, viral hepatitis, herpes simplex, liver cirrhosis, lupus, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, and prostatitis. However, again all of these claims lack even the bare minimum of foundation.
In certain areas of China, molybdenum deficiency may occur relatively commonly. There are higher rates of some forms of cancer in these regions; however, when molybdenum supplementation was tried, it failed to make a difference, perhaps because other unidentified deficiencies were involved as well.1
When taken at recommended dosages, molybdenum should be safe. Excessive intake of molybdenum could in theory lead to copper deficiency.2 People with serious kidney disease should also avoid taking molybdenum (or any other supplement) except on the advice of a physician. People with serious kidney disease should also avoid taking molybdenum (or any other supplement) except on the advice of a physician. One isolated report hints that excessive molybdenum intake can cause symptoms of psychosis.3
1. Blot WJ, Li JY, Taylor PR, et al. Nutrition intervention trials in Linxian, China: supplementation with specific vitamin/mineral combinations, cancer incidence, and disease-specific mortality in the general population. J NatlCancer Inst. 1993; 85:1483–1492.
2. Brewer GJ. Practical recommendations and new therapies for Wilson's disease. Drugs. 1995;50:240–9.
3. Momcilovic B. A case report of acute human molybdenum toxicity from a dietary molybdenum supplement—a new member of the “Lucor metallicum” family. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 1999;50:289–97.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 12/15/2015