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What is molybdenum?

Molybdenum is known to play an important role in the chemistry of soils, which is why the content of molybdenum in foods is heavily dependent on the chemistry of the soil and water supplied to them when they were grown. Not unlike other trace minerals, molybdenum needs to be consumed by humans within a healthy range; too much or too less will pose problems to the human body.

How much molybdenum is needed by the human body

According to the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Molybdenum according to the National Academy of Sciences, adult men and women need an average of 45 micrograms per day. Legumes such as peas, lentils and beans as well as leafy vegetables and cereals are considered to be excellent sources of this micronutrient.

Toddlers and young children require significantly reduced quantities of molybdenum in their diet, but it rises steadily as they grow. Infants younger than six months of age, for instance, require only 2 micrograms of Molybdenum and this requirement rises to 17 micrograms per day by the time they are between 1-3 years of age.

Molybdenum can be toxic to the average human adult if consumes more than 2 milligrams, but the chances of toxicity for Molybdenum are extremely low as it generally occurs through careless supplementation of the nutrient.

What does molybdenum do

Molybdenum helps in regulating a variety of vital body functions including the secretion of enzymes and breakdown of amino acids. It plays an important role in the activity of sulphite oxidase, an enzyme that helps convert sulphites to sulphates, effectively allowing sulphur to be regulated within the body. Molybdenum also plays an important part in maintaining the levels of urea in our body and safeguarding our cells against the effect of oxidation.

Signs of molybdenum deficiency

Developing a deficiency of molybdenum is quite rare as it is generally confined to areas where the soil that grows the food does not have enough molybdenum. People who suffer from molybdenum deficiency can show one or more of the following symptoms:

- mouth and gum disorders

- elevated respiratory or heart rate

- sulphite sensitivity

- sexual impotence in adult males

- asthma

- increased cardiovascular problems

Pregnant and lactating women are more prone towards Molybdenum deficiency as they have an increased requirement. Adult women need around 2 milligrams of Molybdenum per day, while women under 19 years of age require 1.7 milligrams, only if they are pregnant or lactating.

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