What does the trace element molybdenum do

Trace element molybdenum - important for metabolism and uric acid

Molybdenum is an essential trace element. It contributes to the breakdown of sulphurous amino acids, to the production of energy and to the breakdown of uric acid.

Molybdenum was discovered by a pharmacist in 1778. For centuries it was considered molybdenum luster, lead luster and graphite to be the ore of lead extraction. The name is derived from this, molybdos (Greek) means lead. Molybdenum is a heavy metal that belongs to the chromium group. It is an essential trace element for humans. The human body contains around 8 to 10 milligrams of molybdenum. 60% of it is present in the skeleton, the rest is distributed over the liver, lungs, kidneys and skin.

Molybdenum has essential functions in the body
Molybdenum is a cofactor of flavin- and iron-containing enzymes (xanthine oxidase, sulfite oxidase, aldehyde oxidase), which play a role in the metabolism. Molybdenum is required for the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids and uric acid. The enzyme xanthine oxidase ensures, among other things, that purines are broken down into uric acid. This is a powerful antioxidant and a good catcher of highly reactive free radicals. Good uric acid levels are therefore very important for health. They also depend on a normal molybdenum level. Molybdenum is also a cofactor for NADH dehydrogenase, which is involved in energy production. Molybdenum also contributes to the storage of fluorides and can therefore possibly also prevent tooth decay.

The main suppliers of molybdenum
The content of molybdenum in food fluctuates greatly, it depends on the soil. Molybdenum is mainly found in legumes, wheat germ, aromatic plants (dill, parsley, chives), offal and eggs. It is also part of the grain germ. When grinding grain, however, it is lost in considerable quantities. The flour only contains 40% of the molybdenum. Molybdenum also occurs in different amounts in drinking water.

10 foods rich in molybdenum contain per 100 grams
per microgram (mcg) molybdenum

Soy flour180 mcg
Red cabbage120 mcg
White beans100 mcg
Brown rice80 mcg
Potatoes5-85 mcg
Dry peas70 mcg
spinach50 mcg
green beans43 mcg
Whole wheat bread31 mcg
pork meat27 mcg

150 mcg of molybdenum are contained in

Wheat germ50 g
legumes75 g
Eggs3
Offal200 g
Vegetables, cereals250 g
Potatoes, pasta, rice330 g
flesh500 g

The daily need for molybdenum
The daily requirement for molybdenum is not exactly known and is estimated. In Germany, the new reference values ​​recommend 50 to 100 micrograms (mcg) for children from 10 years of age and for adults of all ages. This significantly reduced the need. As in the USA, we had previously recommended 75 to 250 mcg daily. Orthomolecular therapists like the American Werbach recommend daily amounts up to 500 mcg.

Does the daily diet cover the need for molybdenum?

As a rule, the requirement in Germany is considered to be covered by the diet. However, since it is set quite low, additional requirements can arise with a number of loads.


Molybdenum is generally well absorbed from food (up to 80%). With a normal mixed diet, we take in around 70 to 100 mcg of molybdenum per day. It is known that various factors can hinder the absorption of molybdenum. Some copper and sulfur compounds can inhibit absorption. Conversely, high uptake of molybdenum can increase copper losses.

Typical groups for an increased demand for molybdenum

  • in a diet with heavily processed food
  • when exposed to chemicals
  • with oxidative stress
  • with disturbed intestinal flora (intestinal dysbiosis)
  • for some intestinal diseases (intestinal inflammation, Crohn's disease)
  • with high uric acid levels
  • for gout-like symptoms
  • with copper deficiency
  • for sulphite sensitivity

When molybdenum is missing in the body
Deficiency symptoms in molybdenum are hardly known. However, a deficiency is possible with some diseases. These include chronic intestinal inflammation and Crohn's disease as well as a rare congenital metabolic disease, but also disorders of the healthy intestinal flora. In all cases of a lack of molybdenum, the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids and of nucleotides (building block of nucleic acids) is disturbed, the production of uric acid and the antioxidant protection are further reduced. Typical symptoms include dysfunction of the nerves and brain, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), shortness of breath (tachypnea), night blindness and agitation. A lack of molybdenum can lead to abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, drowsiness, itching, swelling and fluctuating moods.

Molybdenum probably also has an influence on the development of caries. From regions with higher molybdenum levels in the soil and in drinking water, it is known that tooth decay occurs less frequently. It is believed that molybdenum can facilitate the absorption and storage of fluorides. This could help reduce tooth decay as well as osteoporosis. Molybdenum can also help with some diseases. These include, for example, skin infections, inflammation of the mucous membranes (stomach, small intestine) and cancers that respond to hormone intake.

Can you overdose on molybdenum or are there side effects?
Molybdenum is considered non-toxic in normal doses. At most, with very high intakes of 10 to 15 milligrams per day, the production of uric acid increases and symptoms similar to gout develop. A possible excess of molybdenum as a result of excessive stress in some industrial work processes, for example in foundries and in paint production, is known. The symptoms that may result from this are also similar to those of gout.

Molybdenum for prevention - and how much?
Molybdenum is usually not necessary for general prevention. However, there may be an additional need or even a deficiency with various stresses and diseases. In such cases, supplements are useful. They may then be dosed higher than the daily requirement and should be prescribed therapeutically.