Molybdenum (Mo) is an essential trace mineral which people must consume to be healthy. Symptoms resulting from Mo deficiency can be relieved by supplementation with Mo pills. Mo levels are high in green beans and sunflower seeds. Mo is most important to the functioning of enzymes sulfite oxidase, xanthine oxidase, and aldehyde oxidase. It is a catalyst necessary for these enzymes to function at normal speed.
Sulfite oxidase enzyme is necessary to digest sulfites to sulfates. Wine is especially high in sulfites, and some people with Mo deficiency cannot tolerate drinking wine. They vomit profusely and may have uncomfortable flushing after drinking wine. Asthma may result from high blood levels of sulfites, as can skin rashes. Low levels of sulfates from Mo deficiency can result in intolerance of salicylates, cucumbers, berries, and other fruits. Also, inactivity of sulfite oxidase may result in low levels of glutathione.
Xanthine oxidase enzyme depends on Mo to convert purines into uric acid, so it can be eliminated from the body. Purines are high in rich meats, wild game, and some fish. Without Mo purines may build up in the body and even become toxic to the nervous system. People with Mo deficiency should not eat the following which are high in purines: Organ meats, wild game, liver, kidney, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring and sardines. This is similar to the gout diet.
Aldehyde oxidase enzyme inactivity from Mo deficiency results in alcohol intolerance, with red flushing, nausea, and vomiting. A related problem is the “Asian Flushing Syndrome” seen in some people from Korea, China, or Japan. They flush severely and vomit profusely after consuming too much wine and some other alcohols. They often have low levels of Mo and an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Tests for diagnosing Mo deficiency include urinary sulfites, blood uric acid, urine uric acid, urinary Mo, hair analysis, and red cell Mo levels. Red cell Mo levels and hair analysis can be used to monitor progress of Mo treatment.
One type of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) seems to be the result of molybdenum deficiency in people who have a genetic predisposition to developing ALS. This is the only type of ALS known to result from a nutritional deficiency.
A hereditary form of Mo deficiency results in mental retardation, neurologic disease, and ocular lens disease. The victims of this problem usually don’t live very long.
Mo deficiency results in geographical areas where there is insufficient Mo in the soils where food is grown. Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide can result in Mo deficiency since it can cause symptoms of celiac disease. Copper is a Mo antagonist, so high levels of copper can result from low levels of Mo. A form of Mo is used to drive levels of copper down to block angiogenesis, blocking the growth of cancers. High levels of tungsten in the body from tungsten welding may block Mo absorption, also.
People who have low levels of Mo should be on a diet low in both purines and sulfites to protect the nervous system. Those with low Mo levels have a high risk for esophageal cancer.
CONCLUSION: Deficiency of molybdenum results in many food intolerances. The resulting abnormal metabolism can be associated with neurologic problems, and may result in ALS in people who have a genetic susceptibility to ALS. Molybdenum deficiency over time may result in increased risk of esophageal cancer.