Molybdenum deficiency

Molybdenum deficiencyMolybdenum deficiency is a condition when the amount of molybdenum in the body is insufficient.


Molybdenum is a cofactor for such essential enzymes as xanthine oxidase, sulfite oxidase, and aldehyde oxidase. These enzymes are involved in carbohydrate metabolism, utilization of iron, sulfite detoxification, and uric acid production. It is also necessary for nitrogen metabolism. Along with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) molybdenum incorporates iron into haemoglobin and takes part in the production of the red blood cells.

Causes and risk factors

Molybdenum deficiency is a rare condition. It may occur when a person has a genetic abnormality that impairs the ability of the body to absorb molybdenum. Prolonged intravenous feeding is not able to provide enough of the nutrients and minerals to the body and may result in the various deficiency conditions. High sulfur intake and sulfur intoxication reduce the level of molybdenum in the body.

See also: Silicon deficiency

Recommended daily intake and the sources

The daily adequate intake of molybdenum depends on the age and gender:

  • Infants 0-6 months – 2 µg/day;
  • Infants 7-12 months – 3 µg/day;
  • Children 1-3 years – 17 µg/day;
  • Children 4-8 years – 22 µg/day;
  • Girls and boys 9-13 years – 34 µg/day;
  • Females and males 14-18 years – 43 µg/day;
  • Females and males 19-50 years – 45 µg/day;
  • Females and males older than 50 years – 45 µg/day;
  • Pregnant  and lactating at the age 14-50 years 50 µg/day;

The following foods contain molybdenum:

  • legumes (beans, peas, lentils);
  • brown rice;
  • millet;
  • cereal and whole grains;
  • liver;
  • nuts;
  • dark green leafy vegetables.


  • tachypnoe (increased respiratory rate);
  • tachycardia (increased heart rate);
  • night blindness;
  • mouth and gum disorders;
  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • sexual impotence in older males;
  • sulfite sensitivity and toxicity;
  • mental disturbances;
  • coma;
  • risk of developing esophageal cancer;

In 1967 a case of genetic sulfite oxidase deficiency in a child was reported. This deficiency has led to the inability of forming molybdenum coenzyme, although the levels of molybdenum were normal. The kid has suffered from intellectual disability, seizures, opisthotonus, and lens dislocation.


The blood analysis reveals extremely low levels of uric acid in the serum and in the urine, low inorganic sulfate levels in the urine.


Intravenous injections of ammonium molybdate in the dose of 300 mcg/day are helpful to reduce the symptoms of the deficiency.