WHAT IS COBALT?
Cobalt is a micromineral (or trace element) that is part of the vitamin B12 molecule. Therefore, its role in the body is exactly the same as that of vitamin B12. As part of vitamin B12, cobalt is required to produce deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), red blood cells and other important hormones. In this article I will be discussing cobalt in greater detail.
WHEN WAS COBALT DISCOVERED?
People have been aware of cobalt since at least 1400 B.C. Back then cobalt compounds were used to colour glass and glazes blue. However, in 1735 the Swedish chemist George Brandt started to analyse a dark blue pigment he had found in copper ore. He managed to demonstrate that this pigment was not just copper and that it contained a new element which was later named cobalt.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE COBALT?
Cobalt represents approximately 0.1% of an average person’s bodyweight. It is stored in the blood plasma, kidneys, liver, pancreas, plasma, spleen and red blood cells. As I mentioned above, cobalt is part of vitamin B12 and therefore performs exactly the same role in the body. It assists in the production of red blood cells and numerous important hormones. The list below contains a summary of cobalt’s main functions in the body:
– Assisting in the absorption of vitamin B9.
– Assisting in the production of DNA and RNA which both contain important genetic information.
– Assisting in the production of melatonin which can help improve sleep cycles.
– Assisting in the production of myelin which covers and protects the nerves.
– Assisting in the production of red blood cells.
– Assisting in the production of serotonin which can help improve your mood.
– Improving mental function.
HOW MUCH COBALT DO YOU NEED?
Since cobalt is part of vitamin B12 there is recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient on its own. However, if you consume the RDA of vitamin B12 (0.0015mg) you can ensure you are getting enough cobalt.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN COBALT?
Since vitamin B12 contains cobalt, foods that are high in B12 are also high in cobalt. Cobalt is found in all animal products, some enriched whole grain products and a selection of green leafy vegetables. The list below contains a summary of the best cobalt food sources:
– Green Leafy Vegetables:- Between 0.002mg and 0.006mg per 100g.
– Muscle Meat:- Between 0.0007mg and 0.0012mg per 100g.
– Organ Meat:- Between 0.0015mg and 0.0025mg per 100g.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH COBALT?
Eating up to 1.4mg of cobalt per day is thought to have no adverse effects. Since most foods contain nowhere near this amount overdosing is very rare. However, it is possible and consuming levels greater than this for a prolonged period of time can cause a number of problems which include:
– Decreased fertility in men.
– Heart damage.
– Thyroid gland damage.
– Vision problems.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH COBALT?
Not eating enough cobalt is also very rare since it can be found in almost every animal product. However, vegetarians can become deficient in this nutrient if their diet lacks green leafy vegetables. Cobalt deficiency can also be caused by a lack of intrinsic factor (a substance which needs to be present in the intestine to properly absorb cobalt and vitamin B12) which is usually caused by stomach problems. Being deficient in cobalt leads to the same negative symptoms associated with not getting enough vitamin B12. These include:
– Heart disease.
– Menstrual problems in women.
– Nerve damage.
– Pernicious anemia (a condition where your body produces fewer, larger blood cells).
Since cobalt is part of the vitamin B12 molecule, its role in the body is exactly the same. However, that does not make it any less important. Cobalt is needed to produce the highly important DNA and RNA along with red blood cells and other important hormones. I hope this article has given you a better understanding of cobalt or at the very least provided a refresher on vitamin B12.
Now I want to hear your thoughts. Do you get enough cobalt and vitamin B12? Have you ever experienced problems absorbing these nutrients? Leave a comment and let me know.