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Molybdenum Requirements and Dietary Sources

Mineral Guide


Updated July 05, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

dry beans

Legumes contain molybdenum.

Sanja Gjenero

Molybdenum is a trace mineral that your body uses in small amounts. It's a component of three enzymes your body needs to metabolize amino acids, produce uric acid and to break down drugs and toxins.

Dietary molybdenum is found in the largest amounts in peas, lentils and other legumes, and grains. It's also found in fruits, vegetables and many foods of animal origin.The molybdenum content of plant sources of foods is based on how much of the mineral is in the soil where the plants are grown. But you only need a very small amount -- and it's easily absorbed -- so you're probably getting plenty from the foods you're eating. 

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies determines the dietary reference intakes for vitamins and minerals. These DRIs are based on the dietary needs of the average healthy person. The DRI for molybdenum is based on age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need just a little more.

Dietary Reference Intakes 

1 to 3 years: 17 micrograms per day
4 to 8 years: 22 micrograms per day
9 to 13 years: 34 micrograms per day
14 to 18 years: 43 micrograms per day
19+ years: 45 micrograms per day
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 50 micrograms per day

Molybdenum deficiency is extremely rare -- you don't need to bother with molybdenum supplements.  

Also, overdoses from food or supplements are rare. In fact, only one case has been reported in the research literature. A male in his late thirties consumed large amounts of molybdenum over the course of about 2 weeks and suffered from psychoses, seizures and hallucinations. While some experts believe that people who are deficient in copper may be at a higher risk of molybdenum toxicity, it's just too rare to have any real idea.

Although toxicity is unlikely, the Institute of Medicine set the tolerable upper limit for adults at 2,000 micrograms per day. That means that to the best of anyone's knowledge, supplemental amounts up to 2,000 micrograms per day don't cause any health problems in adults. 

There's no reason to take molybdenum supplements, so if your'e thinking about taking them, you need to speak with your health care provider to find out if they're truly necessary.

Environmental Exposure

Molybdenum toxicity can occur if you work in places where it's processed. This type of inhaled environmental exposure may cause  weakness, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite and muscle pain.

What are Trace Minerals?

These are the minerals your body needs in only very small amounts. They're still crucial for your health so you need to get them from your diet. 

The other minerals -- calcium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, phosphorus, potassium and sodium -- are called the major minerals because your body needs them in larger amounts.


American Cancer Society. "Molybdenum." Accessed July 5,2014. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/molybdenum.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. "Dietary Reference Intakes: Elements." Accessed July 5, 2014. http://iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Elements.pdf.

Linus Pauling Institute - Oregon State University. "Molybdenum." Accessed January 27, 2010. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/molybdenum/.

Momcilovic B. "A case report of acute human molybdenum toxicity from a dietary molybdenum supplement--a new member of the "Lucor metallicum" family." Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 1999 Sep;50(3):289-97.


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