What is Molybdenum?
Molybdenum is a chemical element, a metal that does not usually occur naturally in nature. It is only found in various oxidation states in minerals and it is synthesized artificially for various purposes and in 2011 alone the worldwide production reached to approximately 250,000 tons. However, only a small part of it has been used for biological purposes in humans.
As a matter of fact is among the metals with very few human applications and it is mostly used in metallurgy and in some areas of the chemical industry. It is primarily used in making alloys, more precise steel alloys, destined to tool manufacturing in general. Its prized attributes are the high resistance to corrosion and its increased malleability, making it useful in welding.
In the human organism, as well as in the rest of the living beings, molybdenum effects have not been researched enough, but some of its interactions have been identified as positive and a lot of its effects have been intensively studied. It turns out that its role is more or less limited to enzyme production in regard to different body processes.
Even though its roles in the living organisms are reduced, molybdenum is essential in the overall function of the body. According to a 2002 study, there are over 50 types of enzymes that contain this element and, what is more, interesting is that the number increases by the year.
According to the observations, molybdenum is important in regulating the protein synthesis, but also plays an essential role in metabolic processes and cellular growth.
For the most part, this mineral is an essential dietary element we usually take from food and even if our bodies do not require large quantities to function properly, whenever an imbalance occurs, we will notice the effects at a biological level.
Molybdenum deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of food poisoning in some cases because the organism begins manifesting problems with the sulfite oxidase enzymes. As a result, we will grow intolerant to sulfites in the food, leading to, sometimes, serious side effects.
In children, the congenital deficiency, resulting from their biological inability to process the mineral, will lead to neurological damages in time. On the other hand, whenever the intake exceeds the safe limits, molybdenum could interfere with the copper levels, making our organisms unable to process it as intended.
The result is a copper deficiency and the symptoms could include severe diarrhea, anemia and even shutting down the biological growth and cellular reproduction. Also, it has been established a correlation between this mineral’s deficiency and a higher risk of contracting esophageal cancer.
The treatment usually involves copper supplementation, but also reducing the molybdenum intake, when the consumption has reached critical levels.
The most molybdenum-rich foods available are: dried peas, lentils, limas, kidneys, pintos, soy and garbanzos and these are the most important ones. Other good sources include tomatoes, cucumber, celery and oats and even, in relatively low amounts, fennel, and carrots.
In the US, however, studies have shown that for a large portion of the population, 20% of the molybdenum intake comes from dairy sources and the percentage reaches up to even 40% in the case of the teenage population.
How much Molybdenum should you take?
Regarding the dietary consumption, the molybdenum intake should not exceed 2 mg per day for adults and pregnant women, with the upper limit greatly decreased as the age of the individual decreases as well.
However, when talking about the inhalation of the fumes containing this element, the process is toxic and should be a thread with caution. Any value exceeding 5 mg/cm3 is dangerous and could cause headaches, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. In some cases, the exposure to excessive amounts could even be proven fatal.