Whenever you and your kids eat protein, your bodies use a tiny amount of a trace element called molybdenum to help it break the protein down into amino acids. Molybdenum is found in beans, peas and lentils, but the amount of it in your food depends on the concentration of molybdenum in the soil, so molybdenum content varies geographically.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get 45 micrograms of molybdenum per day. Infants need 2 micrograms a day until they reach 6 months of age. Then, they should get 3 micrograms a day. Toddlers ages 1 to 3 need 17 micrograms of molybdenum per day, and that amount increases to 22 micrograms micrograms for 4- to 8-year-olds. Kids ages 9 to 13 should get 34 micrograms a day, and teens need 45 micrograms per day. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should take in 50 micrograms of molybdenum each day.
Although taking in slightly more than the RDA of molybdenum is generally safe for kids and adults, large doses can be toxic. The Institute of Medicine recommends limiting your intake of molybdenum to no more than 2,000 micrograms a day. Excessive molybdenum can cause liver poisoning, according to authors of a study published in the "International Journal of Environmental Health Research" in 2012. Additionally, taking in too much molybdenum may cause your body to accumulate an excess of uric acid, potentially leading to illnesses such as gout and kidney failure.
Molybdenum may help you and your kids stay alert at work and at school. Getting the RDA of molybdenum helps you use the amino acids in protein to build muscle tissue and make neurotransmitters that enable your brain to communicate with the rest of your body, among other functions. Two amino acids, methionine and cysteine, contain sulfur. When you take in protein, your body can't metabolize methionine and cysteine adequately unless it has enough molybdenum to help it convert sulfite into sulfate, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Molybdenum in Food
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the average American woman takes in about 76 micrograms of molybdenum per day, well above the recommended daily allowance for this mineral. Because most people get plenty of molybdenum from food, deficiencies are rare in healthy people. The richest sources of molybdenum are legumes, but wheat, oats and nuts also provide it. The amount of molybdenum in plants depends on the content of the mineral in the soil, so the molybdenum in foods widely varies.