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Molybdenum, also known as sodium molybdate, ammonium molybdate, is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin 'Molybdaenum' and from Ancient Greek 'molybdos', meaning lead, since its ores were confused with lead ores. 

Molybdenum is an element that is present in very small amounts in the body. It is involved in many important biological processes including development of the nervous system, waste processing in the kidneys and energy production in cells. It acts as co-factor to a number of important enzymes needed for nutrition, fertility and immunity.

Molybdenum helps the body manufacture enzymes, such as the ones needed for the use of the energy from the fats and carbohydrates, as well as helping the body make use of the iron ingested which sustains mental alertness.  Molybdenum is also essential for blood sugar balance.


Molybdenum is an essential element in human nutrition, but its precise function and interactions with other chemicals in the body are not yet well understood. Some evidence suggests that too little molybdenum in the diet may be responsible for some health problems such as Wilson's disease in which the body cannot process copper.


Eating foods containing molybdenum can help to relieve a number of conditions such as allergies, asthma, concentration problems, diabetes, infertility, kidney malfunction, gout, dental cavities and tooth decay and sexual impotence. Links to all these health disorders can be found below under associated subjects.

Molybdenum deficiency

It is unlikely that anyone with a balanced diet will suffer from a molybdenum deficiency but the molybdenum content of food depends on the soil content of the mineral. As with chromium, the soil content of molybdenum is often very low. Humans require very small amounts of molybdenum, and deficiency appears to happen only under the rarest of circumstances. For example, molybdenum deficiency may appear in a person fed entirely through the veins for a very long time or in a person with a genetic problem in which the body cannot use the molybdenum that is eaten in foods. Avoiding sulphur-rich foods may lead to a deficiency of molybdenum.

Natural sources of molybdenum


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Recommended daily requirement

No recommended daily amount has been established for molybdenum, but safe consumption is thought to be between 150 and 500 mcg per day. Diabetics and people with low blood sugar should consume antioxidant foods that contain chromium, vanadium and molybdenum.

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