Fact Sheet for Consumers

This is a general overview. For more in-depth information, see our health professional fact sheet.

What is molybdenum and what does it do?

Molybdenum is a mineral that you need to stay healthy. Your body uses molybdenum to process proteins and genetic material like DNA. Molybdenum also helps break down drugs and toxic substances that enter the body.

How much molybdenum do I need?

The amount of molybdenum you need depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg).

Life Stage Recommended Amount
Birth to 6 months 2 mcg
Infants 7–12 months 3 mcg
Children 1–3 years 17 mcg
Children 4–8 years 22 mcg
Children 9–13 years 34 mcg
Teens 14–18 years 43 mcg
Adults 19 years and older 45 mcg
Pregnant teens and women 50 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women 50 mcg

What foods provide molybdenum?

Many foods contain molybdenum. The amount of molybdenum in food depends on the amount of molybdenum in the soil and in the water used for irrigation. You can get recommended amounts of molybdenum by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Legumes such as black-eyed peas and lima beans
  • Whole grains, rice, nuts, potatoes, bananas, and leafy vegetables
  • Dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Beef, chicken, and eggs

What kinds of molybdenum dietary supplements are available?

Some multivitamin/mineral supplements contain molybdenum. Other supplements contain molybdenum alone or together with other minerals.

Am I getting enough molybdenum?

Most people in the United States get enough molybdenum from the foods they eat.

What happens if I don’t get enough molybdenum?

Molybdenum deficiency is very rare in the United States. It happens only in people with a very rare genetic disorder called molybdenum cofactor deficiency. This disorder prevents the body from using molybdenum. It can cause seizures and severe brain damage that usually leads to death within days after birth.

What are some effects of molybdenum on health?

Whether molybdenum affects any disease or health condition isn’t known.

Can molybdenum be harmful?

Molybdenum from food and beverages doesn’t cause any harm. However, people exposed to high levels of molybdenum in the air and soil, such as miners and metalworkers, sometimes develop achy joints, gout-like symptoms, and high blood levels of uric acid (a substance that is normally excreted in your urine).

The daily upper limits for molybdenum include intakes from all sources—food, beverages, and supplements—and are listed below in micrograms (mcg).

Ages Upper Limit
Birth to 12 months Not established
Children 1–3 years 300 mcg
Children 4–8 years 600 mcg
Children 9–13 years 1,100 mcg
Teens 14–18 years 1,700 mcg
Adults 2,000 mcg

Does molybdenum interact with medications or other dietary supplements?

Molybdenum is not known to interact or interfere with any medicines, but it’s always important to tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take. They can tell you if these dietary supplements might interact with your medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients, such as molybdenum.

Molybdenum and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food and beverages, according to the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other components that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements are useful when it is not possible to meet needs for one or more nutrients (for example, during specific life stages such as pregnancy). For more information about building a healthy dietary pattern, see the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.external link disclaimer

Where can I find out more about molybdenum?


This fact sheet by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, or expert advice.

Updated: March 22, 2021 History of changes to this fact sheet