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Molybdenum is a metallic trace mineral essential in human nutrition. Used industrially in the strengthening and hardening of steel, molybdenum is required by the body for the production of certain vital enzymes including xanthine oxidase (involved in uric acid formation), aldehyde oxidase (involved in alcohol detoxification), and sulfite oxidase (involved in sulfite detoxification). Supplemental forms of molybdenum include sodium molybdate, molybdenum glycinate, and tetrathiomolybdate.
The molybdenum content of foods varies with soil molybdenum levels. Good sources include meats, dairy products, whole grains, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables. Hard water may also contain molybdenum.
The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for molybdenum is 75 micrograms (mcg) per day. The average daily intake in the U.S. has been estimated to be between 120 and 240 micrograms per day. Over 1,400 micrograms per day have been used in some studies, with no adverse effects. Most excess molybdenum is excreted in the urine, so toxic accumulations are rare. Molybdenum toxicity has been seen in steel workers with high levels of industrial exposure, with symptoms resembling gout.