Today we want to have a look on a rather unpopular and sometimes unknown essential micro element, named cobalt. But as we are going deeper into investigating this mineral under the question “What is Cobalt used for? – The Foundation of Cobalamin”, we will see that it definitely has a crucial function in our body. And we don´t want to lack it in this case. We will also discover from where you can get it, how much you need of it and what else might be interesting about this micro element.
Why can we call Cobalt the Foundation of Cobalamin?
If we are looking on the neologism of cobalamin, which was formed out of cobal(t) + (vit)amin, then we can easily conclude, that cobalt must be an important basic component of cobalamin and therefore vitamin B12.
And in fact, vitamin B12 is constructed out of a central cobalt ion. And for now, it is the only known natural substance, which contains a cobalt ion.
There are assumptions in which cobalamin can be built out of cobalt ions in the small intestine. But it is scientifically not clear yet. And moreover, there is another requirement called the intrinsic factor, which has to be present in order to absorb the cobalamin in the gut.
So there is the recommendation to have an intake of cobalt through the diet so that we are able to produce vitamin B12. If the intrinsic factor is missing all the cobalt we orally take has no effect and we need cobalamin directly intravenous.
So now we know that cobalt is essential for the formation of vitamin B12, as it makes up its central atom. And therefore cobalt ensures the functions of vitamin B12, like gene formation, which will be presented and repeated in a summary below.
What is Cobalt?
Cobalt is a heavy metal and a transition metal, which has ferromagnetic properties.
It is an essential micro or trace element, which we have to get through our nutrition.
What is the demand of Cobalt?
Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for cobalt is about
1 – 100 micrograms (μg) per day. The numbers are not precise at this point. But something in between is more than good.
Where can you get Cobalt from (Top foods)?
Here are the Top foods, which are rich in Cobalt:
1. Cocoa (up to 100 μg/100g),
2. Turmeric and pepper (up to 30 μg/100g)
3. Rooibos tea (up to 13 μg/100g)
4. nuts like pistachios (up to 7 μg/100g)
5. Potato, Pear (up to 2 μg/100ml)
What are the functions and benefits of Cobalt?
The most important function of cobalt is being the basic component of cobalamin, which is vitamin B12. Therefore cobalt ensures all the benefits and functions, which are provided by vitamin B12, which will be summarized here again.
Central ion in cobalamin
The most important functions of vitamin B12
- cell formation, like red blood cells, nerve cells, cell membranes, hormones, neurotransmitter and genetic material
- enzymatical reactions, like the formation of methionine and participation in the citrate cycle
- methionine developes out of a process to reduce homocysteine, which potentially damages blood vessels, causing arteriosclerosis
- within the citrate cycle, our body is supplied with energy for our cells and vitamin B12 ensures the degradation of harmful, neurotoxic intermediates
- vitamin B12 also intervenes in the vitamin B9 cycle and brings folic acid back into its bioactive form, which is tetrahydrofolate
- besides decreasing toxic intermediates like homocysteine, it makes cyanide and nitrogen monoxide harmless by forming cyanocobalamin and nitrosocobalamin
What deficiency symptoms of Cobalt exist?
A deficiency of cobalt is very seldom, as there is plenty of food containing it and we only need a small amount of it. Possible risk groups are vegetarians, vegans and alcoholics. Addtional risk factors are stress and disorders in the small intestine, particularly if the end piece of it is missing due to surgery. As cobalt is directly linked to vitamin B12, as it is a component of this essential vitamin, a deficiency in cobalt also results in a deficiency in vitamin B12 with the announced symptoms.
Symptoms, caused by a lack of cobalt can be as followed:
- fatigue and weakness
- disorders in the nerve system
- gastrointestinal disorders
- other vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms
What overdose symptoms of Cobalt exist?
An overdose of cobalt isn´t normal through a weighted diet. It needs high amounts of it, which can be inhaled through the air.
Beginning at 25 mg/day may result in the following symptoms:
- skin diseases like eczemas
- lung damage
- gastrointestinal disorders
- liver damage
- disorder in heart, kidney and thyroid gland
What else may you have to consider about Cobalt?
Value in our body
The amount of cobalt in our body is about 1 – 2 mg. It is stored in the liver, the bone mark, the pancreas, the spleen, and the kidneys.
Antagonists and Advice
Whereas overdose amounts of iron decrease the absorption of cobalt, a high amount of cobalt (II) salts can increase the formation rate of red blood cells as it works like Erythropoietin (EPO), which is known as a substance for doping in sports.
Discovery and Use
Cobalt was first discovered in 1735.
The word cobalt, Latin “cobaltum” or Greek ” Κόβαλος” comes from a Greek mythological kobold creature.
The word “cobalt” may possibly come from mine workers expecting goblins, leprechauns or kobolds leaving the metal in the mine.
To summarize this blog post up, we have learned that the most important function of cobalt is being a good partner as the basic component for vitamin B12. That is one necessary requirement for cobalamin to work in our body. Another requirement is the presence of the intrinsic factor, which ensures the absorption of vitamin B12 in the gut. Therefore the main functions of vitamin B12 are cell and gene formation, intervention in the vitamin B9 cycle and its enzymatical and detoxifying effect by decreasing homocysteine, cyanide and nitrogen monoxide. Cocoa, turmeric, rooibos tea and nuts are perfect sources of cobalt in food.
Now it is your turn. What do you think? What was new here for you? Do you want to know something else? Let us know in the comments.