INDEX

Molybdenum

Background

  • Molybdenum is a transition metal, and it is required by most organisms, including humans. Molybdenum is found in the earth’s crust, soil, and plants, and higher levels are found in the soil of certain areas, such as Australia and New Zealand. In plants, molybdenum is found in higher concentrations in those having symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, such as legumes and leafy vegetables. Molybdenum is also found in animal livers and dairy products. Recommended dietary allowances, tolerable upper intake levels, and adequate intake levels have been established for molybdenum for children, adults, and pregnant or lactating women.

  • In the human body, molybdenum is considered an essential trace element and plays an important role as a cofactor for several enzymes. Molybdenum deficiency results in decreased activity of these enzymes. Molybdenum and related compounds (thiomolybdate products) have been studied for use in cancer, macular degeneration, cataract prevention, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), symptomatic Wilson’s disease (an inherited disorder resulting in too much copper), hypertension, and stroke. Further research is needed.

  • Adverse effects associated with high doses of molybdenum include decreased copper levels in the body, decreased blood cell production, goutlike symptoms, and central nervous system effects. Also, molybdenum contamination of supplements, foods, and drugs may need to be monitored, due to the possibility of toxic effects at high levels.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

Grade*

Wilson’s disease (symptomatic)

Wilson’s disease is a genetic disease that results in increased copper levels in the body, leading to copper toxicity. Tetrathiomolybdate (TM), a form of molybdenum, has been studied for use in diseases involving copper metabolism, such as Wilson’s disease. At this time, evidence in support of TM for Wilson’s disease is inconclusive. Further research is warranted.

B

Cancer (prevention)

The use of vitamins and minerals to prevent cancer is of interest. Molybdenum has been reported to alter the incidence of esophageal and gastric cancer in several studies. However, many of the studies have been conducted in select populations with a high incidence of these cancers, as well as micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies. Well-designed trials using molybdenum alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C

Cancer (treatment)

Tetrathiomolybdate (TM), a form of molybdenum, has been studied for use in cancer. At this time, evidence in support of TM for cancer is inconclusive. Further research is warranted.

C

Cataract

There is limited information available with respect to molybdenum intake and cataract prevention. Further research is needed.

C

Cirrhosis (primary biliary)

Copper accumulation may occur in patients with liver dysfunctions. Molybdenum intake may decrease copper levels and prevent copper accumulation. Further studies are needed.

C

Dental caries

Early research suggests that dental caries may be prevented with molybdenum ions. More studies are needed in this area.

C

Hypertension

Molybdenum may play a role in blood pressure regulation. However, high-quality research on the effects of molybdenum on blood pressure in humans is lacking. More studies are needed.

C

Macular degeneration

There is limited information available with respect to molybdenum intake and macular degeneration. Further trials are warranted.

C

Mortality

Decreasing mortality with the use of vitamins and supplements is a commonly studied topic. However, data are limited with respect to molybdenum. More research is needed in this area.

C

Stroke

Molybdenum may play a role in blood pressure regulation, which may affect stroke risk. However, information on the effects of molybdenum on stroke risk in humans is lacking. Further studies are warranted.

C

*Key to grades:

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;

B: Good scientific evidence for this use;

C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;

D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);

F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

Tradition

  • Acne, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, asthma, autoimmune disorders, Bell’s palsy, burns, chemical sensitivities (sulfite sensitivity), dental procedures (implants), detoxification, diabetes, doxorubicin cardiotoxicity, eczema, gout, growth, impotence, insomnia, lupus, Lyme disease, Menkes’ kinky-hair disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis prevention, parasitic infections, poisoning (copper), pulmonary fibrosis, retinopathy, yeast infection.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of molybdenum is 45 micrograms daily, and the tolerable upper intake level (UL) is two milligrams daily. The RDA of molybdenum during pregnancy and lactation is 50 micrograms daily. The UL during pregnancy and lactation is two milligrams daily.

  • For cancer treatment, the following doses have been taken by mouth: 40 milligrams of tetrathiomolybdate (TM) three times daily with meals along with 60 milligrams at bedtime (for a total of four daily doses); 20 milligrams three times daily with meals plus an escalating dose (30 milligrams, 45 milligrams, or 60 milligrams in three divided doses); and 150 milligrams of ATN-224 daily for two weeks, then reduced to 90 milligrams daily in a 28-day cycle.

  • For cirrhosis (primary biliary), 20 milligrams of tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been taken by mouth three times daily with meals along with 60 milligrams at bedtime without food, daily for the first week. This has been increased to 40 milligrams three times daily with meals and 60 milligrams at bedtime without food, adjusted as needed, for 4-24 months.

  • For macular degeneration, 20 milligrams of tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been taken by mouth three times daily (with meals) plus 60 milligrams at night, adjusted as needed, for up to 12 months.

  • For Wilson’s disease (symptomatic), 100-410 milligrams of tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been taken by mouth daily to achieve an appropriate copper level.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • The adequate intake (AI) for infants 0-6 months old is two micrograms of molybdenum daily or 0.3 micrograms per kilogram daily. The AI for infants 7-12 months old is three micrograms of molybdenum daily or 0.3 micrograms per kilogram daily. The RDA for children 1-3 years of age is 17 micrograms; for those 4-8 years of age, it is 22 micrograms; for those 9-13 years of age, it is 34 micrograms; and for those 14-18 years of age, it is 43 micrograms. The molybdenum UL for infants aged 0-12 months has not been reported. The UL for children 1-3 years old is 0.3 milligrams; for those 4-8 years old, it is 0.6 milligrams; for those 9-13 years old, it is 1.1 milligrams daily; and for those 14-18 years old, it is 1.7 milligrams daily. The RDA of molybdenum for pregnancy and lactation in 14-18 year-olds is 50 micrograms. The molybdenum UL for pregnancy and lactation is 1.7 milligrams in 14-18 year-olds.

  • For preterm infants, 4-6 micrograms of molybdenum per kilogram, taken by mouth daily, has been proposed as an adequate dose in low-birthweight infants. One microgram of molybdenum per kilogram taken by intravenous route (through the veins) has been proposed as an adequate daily dose.

  • For Wilson’s disease (symptomatic), 100-410 milligrams of tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been taken by mouth daily to achieve an appropriate copper level.

References

  1. Askari F, Innis D, Dick RB, Hou G, Marrero J, Greenson J, Brewer GJ. Treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis with tetrathiomolybdate: results of a double-blind trial. Transl Res. 2010 Mar;155(3):123-30. View Abstract
  2. Blot WJ, Li JY, Taylor PR, Guo W, Dawsey S, Wang GQ, Yang CS, Zheng SF, Gail M, Li GY, et al. Nutrition intervention trials in Linxian, China: supplementation with specific vitamin/mineral combinations, cancer incidence, and disease-specific mortality in the general population. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993 Sep 15;85(18):1483-92. View Abstract
  3. Brewer GJ, Johnson V, Dick RD, Kluin KJ, Fink JK, Brunberg JA. Treatment of Wilson disease with ammonium tetrathiomolybdate. II. Initial therapy in 33 neurologically affected patients and follow-up with zinc therapy. Arch Neurol. 1996 Oct;53(10):1017-25. View Abstract
  4. Brewer GJ, Dick RD, Grover DK, LeClaire V, Tseng M, Wicha M, Pienta K, Redman BG, Jahan T, Sondak VK, Strawderman M, LeCarpentier G, Merajver SD. Treatment of metastatic cancer with tetrathiomolybdate, an anticopper, antiangiogenic agent: Phase I study. Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Jan;6(1):1-10. View Abstract
  5. Brewer GJ, Hedera P, Kluin KJ, Carlson M, Askari F, Dick RB, Sitterly J, Fink JK. Treatment of Wilson disease with ammonium tetrathiomolybdate: III. Initial therapy in a total of 55 neurologically affected patients and follow-up with zinc therapy. Arch Neurol. 2003 Mar;60(3):379-85. View Abstract
  6. Brewer GJ, Askari F, Lorincz MT, Carlson M, Schilsky M, Kluin KJ, Hedera P, Moretti P, Fink JK, Tankanow R, Dick RB, Sitterly J. Treatment of Wilson disease with ammonium tetrathiomolybdate: IV. Comparison of tetrathiomolybdate and trientine in a double-blind study of treatment of the neurologic presentation of Wilson disease. Arch Neurol. 2006 Apr;63(4):521-7. View Abstract
  7. Coulter ID, Hardy ML, Morton SC, Hilton LG, Tu W, Valentine D, Shekelle PG. Antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin e for the prevention and treatment of cancer. J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Jul;21(7):735-44. View Abstract
  8. Henry NL, Dunn R, Merjaver S, Pan Q, Pienta KJ, Brewer G, Smith DC. Phase II trial of copper depletion with tetrathiomolybdate as an antiangiogenesis strategy in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Oncology. 2006;71(3-4):168-75. View Abstract
  9. Li B, Taylor PR, Li JY, Dawsey SM, Wang W, Tangrea JA, Liu BQ, Ershow AG, Zheng SF, Fraumeni JF Jr, et al. Linxian nutrition intervention trials. Design, methods, participant characteristics, and compliance. Ann Epidemiol. 1993 Nov;3(6):577-85. View Abstract
  10. Lowndes SA, Adams A, Timms A, Fisher N, Smythe J, Watt SM, Joel S, Donate F, Hayward C, Reich S, Middleton M, Mazar A, Harris AL. Phase I study of copper-binding agent ATN-224 in patients with advanced solid tumors. Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Nov 15;14(22):7526-34. View Abstract
  11. Meeker, J. D., Rossano, M. G., Protas, B., Diamond, M. P., Puscheck, E., Daly, D., Paneth, N., and Wirth, J. J. Cadmium, lead, and other metals in relation to semen quality: human evidence for molybdenum as a male reproductive toxicant. Environ.Health Perspect. 2008;116(11):1473-1479. View Abstract
  12. Pass HI, Brewer GJ, Dick R, Carbone M, Merajver S. A phase II trial of tetrathiomolybdate after surgery for malignant mesothelioma: final results. Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 Aug;86(2):383-9. View Abstract
  13. Redman BG, Esper P, Pan Q, Dunn RL, Hussain HK, Chenevert T, Brewer GJ, Merajver SD. Phase II trial of tetrathiomolybdate in patients with advanced kidney cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2003 May;9(5):1666-72. View Abstract
  14. Sperduto RD, Hu TS, Milton RC, Zhao JL, Everett DF, Cheng QF, Blot WJ, Bing L, Taylor PR, Li JY, et al. The Linxian cataract studies. Two nutrition intervention trials. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993 Sep;111(9):1246-53. View Abstract
  15. Vine AK, Brewer GJ. Tetrathiomolybdate as an antiangiogenesis therapy for subfoveal choroidal neovascularization secondary to age-related macular degeneration. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2002;100:73-6; discussion 76-7. View Abstract