Molybdenum Rich Diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
A trace mineral found in almost all plant, animal and human tissue, molybdenum is an essential part of many enzyme pathways that make things happen in the body. One important enzyme is Xanthine oxidase which aids the release of iron from our liver storage sites. Another is aldehyde oxidase which is necessary for the breakdown of fat stores to be used for energy.
Good quantities of molybdenum are found in many foods such as liver, grains, leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, lentils, and beans. Like all minerals, molybdenum levels do vary according to the amount present in the soil that the plant is grown in, or the plants the animals feed from in the pasture.
Molybdenum is stored in the body in trace amounts in the kidneys, liver and bones. The recommended daily intake of molybdenum in adults is around 45 micrograms, but there are some situations where more can be needed.
However, high intake can lead to copper deficiency, diarrhea, and depressed growth rate in children. It is more common to see deficiencies in those consuming a refined (processed) food diet which is low in nutrients.
While deficiencies in molybdenum are reported to be generally uncommon, I have not found that to be the case in clinic. Over the years I have requested hundreds of hair mineral analyses and in 95% of the results, my clients’ levels of molybdenum were very low – below the desirable reference range.
However, I need to say that most of these clients who were tested had metabolic disorders such as pyrrole disorder, anxiety, depression and behavioural disorders, so this is not a true representation of the overall general population. I also found that most people with low molybdenum levels normally had high copper levels.
Raising molybdenum levels commonly helps to balance excessive copper in the body.
In the inherited metabolic disorder called Wilson’s disease, there is excess copper stored in the liver, so in these cases molybdenum is prescribed to help clear the excess copper from the body.
Molybdenum has also commonly been used therapeutically to support conditions such as cancer, impotence, gout, dental cavities, candida and anaemia. Further research is needed to confirm molybdenum’s effectiveness on these conditions, so consult your doctor or health practitioner if you feel you need supplemental molybdenum. A diet rich in molybdenum can go a long way to help.
Molybdenum in Candida treatment
Molybdenum is an excellent supplement to protect your body from the effects of candida overgrowth. It is particularly useful during candida ‘die-off’ as it helps your liver to expel the toxins that are produced when the candida yeast is killed by your immune system, or killed by herbs or medical anti-fungal treatment.
The candida yeast lives on sugars in your gut, which ferment these sugars, releasing a by-product called acetaldehyde which is neurotoxic. This is just one of 79 of the toxins that candida releases, but it happens to be the most toxic.
Acetaldehyde can impair your brain function and even kill some of your brain cells. Your endocrine, immune and respiratory systems can all be affected by acetaldehyde which also damages the membranes of your red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen around the body. Thus, you can see how acetaldehyde is linked to candida symptoms like brain fog and fatigue.
Acetaldehyde stays in your body and does not get excreted like other toxins normally do. An excess of acetaldehyde can create weakness and aches and pains in the muscles and joints, in addition to the harmful effects on your brain.
Molybdenum helps by converting acetaldehyde into acetic acid, which can then be excreted from the body like any other toxin. Alternatively, the acetic acid can be converted into an enzyme called acetyl coenzyme A, which is an important part of your metabolism.
If you think you are experiencing candida ‘die-off’ symptoms such as fatigue and flu-like symptoms, molybdenum may help you to feel better sooner.
Molybdenum for optimal Sulphur balance
Sulphur/Sulfur (depending on what skool you went to) is an element of surprising importance for our health. Most foods contain small amounts of the sulphur amino acids, including taurine, methionine and cysteine.
Sulphur is critical for our ability to detoxify toxins and many contaminants in food which cannot be eliminated from our body easily. If we don’t properly digest sulphur rich foods such as garlic, onions and eggs, then beware those around us when we pass wind and generate that sulphur smelling gas!
Sulphur is also essential for our body’s antioxidant protection because many of our critical antioxidant molecules (including glutathione) contain sulphur.
Sulphur also plays a special role in the structure of our connective tissue through its incorporation into molecules like glucosamine sulphate and chondroiton sulphate. Therefore, sulphur helps our skin to look radiant and youthful and keep our tendons and ligaments flexible as well as supporting healthy joints (which is handy if you like to move your body and look good).
Molybdenum is also required to activate the enzyme called sulphite oxidase, which helps the body detoxify many chemicals the liver needs to clear.
Babies born with disruptions in molybdenum absorption and use in the body can experience severe brain and nervous system related health conditions.
Molybdenum for antioxidant protection
Molybdenum is needed by the body to help an enzyme called xanthine oxidase convert the molecules hypoxanthine and xanthine into uric acid. While you might think uric acid is a bad thing because it causes the painful arthritic condition called ‘gout’, healthy amounts of uric acid are needed as it plays an important role in the total antioxidant capacity of our bloodstream.
It’s a case of too much is bad and too little is also bad, so we need just the right amount (like Goldilocks). This is usually well regulated by the body, but a deficiency of this important mineral can cause issues.
Symptoms of molybdenum deficiency
Molybdenum deficiency signs may include ‘foggy head’, headaches, visual alterations like night blindness, accelerated heart and respiratory rate, seizures, and neurological changes.
Rich sources of molybdenum from foods
Because we only need very small amounts of molybdenum, it is generally easily obtained from a healthy balanced and varied diet.
For men and women, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of molybdenum is 45 mcg per day. Our average daily consumption of molybdenum for men is 109mcg and 76mcg for women, both above the RDA.
However as mentioned, there are many situations where more than the RDA is required. It is reported that adults can tolerate up to 2mg (that’s 2,000 mcg) of molybdenum per day and the toxicity risk from food sources alone is very low. Excessive doses of molybdenum would usually only occur from irresponsible supplementation and not monitoring mineral levels.
Good sources of molybdenum:
The richest sources of molybdenum can be found in beans, legumes, and nuts.
- Navy beans (cooked): 200mcg per cup
- Black-eyed peas (cooked): 180mcg per cup
- Lentils and split peas (cooked): 150mcg per cup
- Pumpkin seeds: 84mcg per cup
- Tofu: 80mcg per cup
- Brown rice (cooked): 70mcg per cup
- Cashews: 60mcg per cup
- Almonds: 60mcg per cup
- Sunflower seeds: 54mcg per cup
- Corn: 54mcg per cup
- Peanuts: 42mcg per cup
- Eggs: 7mcg per egg yolk
- Banana: 7mcg per small banana
Before you commence your diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance about what foods and supplements are best for your body. While on the diet do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional.
During the early stages of a new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.