Molybdenum is a trace mineral that is essential for several biological processes in the human body.
Molybdenum is present in very small amounts in the body, and is required for the proper functioning of enzymes that are involved in a number of important metabolic processes, including the metabolism of amino acids and the conversion of nitrate to nitrite. Molybdenum is also involved in the production of energy and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
Function of Molybdenum
Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral that plays important roles in various enzymatic reactions within the human body. Here are some of its functions:
- Cofactor for enzymes: Molybdenum is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in important biological processes, such as metabolism of amino acids, purines, and pyrimidines. For example, molybdenum is a necessary component of the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which converts purines to uric acid, a waste product excreted by the kidneys.
- Detoxification: Molybdenum-containing enzymes also play a role in detoxifying harmful compounds, such as sulfites, which are commonly found in processed foods and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Sulfites are oxidized to sulfates, which are harmless and easily excreted by the body.
- Nitrogen fixation: Molybdenum is also involved in nitrogen fixation in plants, a process that converts atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by plants.
- Bone health: Molybdenum may play a role in maintaining healthy bones, as it is involved in the activation of enzymes that are necessary for bone formation.
- Antioxidant: Molybdenum also has antioxidant properties and may help protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Sources of Molybdenum
The following are some of the main sources of molybdenum:
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are all good sources of molybdenum.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds all contain molybdenum.
- Whole grains: whole wheat, oats, and brown rice are all good sources of molybdenum.
- Leafy green vegetables: spinach, kale, and lettuce are all sources of molybdenum.
- Liver and organ meats: liver and kidney are high in molybdenum.
- Dairy products: milk and cheese contain small amounts of molybdenum.
- Eggs: yolks are a source of molybdenum.
- Meats: beef, pork, and lamb are all sources of molybdenum.
- Seafood: shellfish, including shrimp and scallops, are sources of molybdenum.
Causes and Symptoms of deficiency
Molybdenum deficiency is rare in humans because the human body requires only a small amount of this mineral. However, a few rare genetic disorders can cause severe molybdenum deficiency. These disorders include:
- Molybdenum cofactor deficiency: This is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to use molybdenum to make important enzymes. Symptoms of this disorder can include seizures, intellectual disability, and other neurological problems.
- Sulfite oxidase deficiency: This is another genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to use molybdenum to make enzymes. People with this disorder may experience seizures, developmental delays, and other neurological symptoms.
In addition, certain medications and medical conditions can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb or use molybdenum, potentially leading to deficiency. For example, people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other gastrointestinal disorders may have difficulty absorbing molybdenum from their food.
Since molybdenum is found in many different foods, deficiencies caused by inadequate dietary intake are rare. However, people who consume diets that are very low in molybdenum (for example, those based on highly processed foods) may be at risk of deficiency.
Symptoms specific to Molybdenum deficiency are not very well known as it is very rare in humans. However, it is believed that a deficiency in molybdenum can cause a range of health problems related to the enzymes that rely on molybdenum to function properly. These can include:
- Impaired metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids
- Impaired metabolism of purines and pyrimidines
- Impaired metabolism of certain drugs and toxins
- Increased risk of cancer due to decreased activity of certain enzymes that are involved in DNA repair
- Impaired immune function
- Poor growth in infants and children
It is important to note that these symptoms are not specific to molybdenum deficiency and can be caused by other nutrient deficiencies or health conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect a deficiency in molybdenum or any other nutrient.