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The Effects of Molybdenum on Humans. J. Oakwood. What is Molybdenum?.
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The Effects of Molybdenum on Humans J. Oakwood
What is Molybdenum? Molybdenum is an element that cannot be found on its own in nature, but is more commonly found in minerals such as wulfenite and molybdenite. It is the 54th most common element on land. It is found in small portions in a human body. Molybdenum has effected humans in a couple of ways ever since the beginning of the Earth up until today.
Molybdenum’s Effects in the Past In the past, molybdenum affected humans because it played a role in the beginning of life. It has been around since the start of the Earthand most likely came on a Martian meteorite. This is evidenced by the RNA world hypothesis. This is important because RNA is a key factor of life, and molybdenum has influenced its formation.
RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) Without RNA (along with DNA and proteins), life would not be able to exist. RNA is a single-stranded molecule similar to DNA. One of RNA's most important roles is during transcription, in which messenger RNA, a copy of a segment of DNA, is created and then read by a ribosome to form a protein(which are essential for many processes within the body).
The RNA World Hypothesis The RNA world hypothesis suggests that self-replicating RNA molecules were predecessors of life. Some elements, including molybdenum, may have been behind the initial production of RNA. However, the conditions for fabricating this RNA would have been better suited on Mars. The RNA would have later been transferred to Earth via an object such as a meteor. This is evidenced by the production of RNA , which would have required oxidisedmolybdenum. At the time, there would not have been enough oxygen on Earth. However, the conditions would have been perfect on Mars.
Molybdenum’s Effects Today Currently, molybdenum can be found in enzymes as a molybdenum cofactor. Cofactors are non-proteins that are bound to proteins to help them work. Enzyme cofactors (called coenzymes) do the same thing for enzymes specifically.
Enzymes Enzymes are protein molecules in cells that work as catalystsin our bodies. Catalysis is the change in the speed of a chemical reaction. Catalysts work to speed up reactions (the opposite would be an inhibitor, like snake venom). There are many different kinds of enzymes, which can do anything from helping to digest the food you eat to reading the information in your DNA. One of the most important enzymes that include molybdenum is nitrogenase.
Nitrogenase and Nitrogen Fixation Nitrogenase is an enzyme which enables nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen fixation is a process in which freenitrogen is convertedinto ammonia (NH3). Free nitrogen does not easily form compounds with other elements. The nitrogen fixation process allows nitrogen atoms to be used in more ways. This is important, seeing as how nitrogen is one of the most essential elements to life.
Molybdenum Deficiency Seeing how the required amount of molybdenum is quite small, molybdenum deficiency rarely occurs. Loss of molybdenum would cause a loss of the molybdenum cofactor in enzymes. Signs of molybdenum cofactor deficiency can include tachycardia, neurological abnormalities, and comas.
Excess Molybdenum Just like molybdenum deficiency, having an excess amount of molybdenum is also quite rare. Symptoms of having excess molybdenum are dizziness, fatigue, and the swelling of joints. It can also cause either a low white blood cell or red blood cell count.
Conclusion It is important to make sure that you get enough molybdenum, but since the amount necessary is so small you shouldn’t worry about not having enough or having too much of it. As long as you are eating food every day, you should be fine.