Cobalt – Benefits, Deficiency, and More

Figs are a rich food source of cobalt

Introduction to Cobalt

Cobalt, a gray metal that is extracted from the Earth’s crust, for us humans, is a vital trace mineral. It is primarily present in our body as a component of cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12.

Cobalt performs some of the same functions as zinc and manganese. It can substitute for manganese in the activation of several enzymes. Biochemical reaction activators are the name given to these. In some biochemical reactions, it can also take the place of zinc.

It is also essential for the biotin-dependent Krebs cycle. The body uses this procedure to convert sugars into energy.

Food Sources

Cobalt is primarily found in the body in combination with nitrogen groups as cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12. It’s common food sources are;

  • Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, turnips, kale
  • Dried fruits like figs, raisins, apricots, prunes, dates
  • Seafood consisting of fish, oysters, mussel
  • Animal meat produce of liver, beef, kidneys
  • Staple dairy product of milk
Benefits of Cobalt

It has a number of benefits and most of the benefits are similar to zinc.

  • Cobalt is necessary for cell function
  • It is also involved in the production of antibacterial and antiviral compounds. Some times cobalt is used for treatment of infections
  • It aids in the production of red blood cells
  • Cobalt is essential for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, protein synthesis, and the active conversion of folate
  • It prevents demyelination in the nervous system, which can lead to multiple sclerosis, a condition in which the membrane that covers the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord is damaged
Daily Recommended Intake

Adult Men and Women; 5-8 micrograms per day.

Children; 0.3-1.7 micrograms per day.

*These values are a reference point for healthy individuals, consult a health care professional before any supplementation*

Deficiency Symptoms

Humans rarely suffer from a its deficiency. Inadequate cobalt intake in the diet is linked to conditions like pernicious anemia and macrocytic anemia, which are similar to vitamin B12 deficiency disorders.

Pernicious anemia, is characterized by a significant decrease in the number of red blood cells as a result of a decline in the body’s capacity to absorb cobalt-containing vitamin B12.

Following are observable symptoms of its deficiency, which manifest in a variety of anemic disorders.

  • Fatigue,
  • Tingling
  • Sensations in the extremities of the hands and feet,
  • A hampered nervous system


Toxicity Symptoms

Its toxicity is a rare occurrence. If it occurs, common symptoms of high level of cobalt in the blood are;

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Hearing loss
  • Visual loss


Is cobalt toxic?

Cobalt is extremely harmful to the heart muscle. After prolonged exposure, it may result in toxic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.

A high level of cobalt could cause polycythemia, or an increase in the number of red blood cells. Congestive heart failure can occur if this problem is not addressed.

Its overdose may result in a goiter, or thyroid gland enlargement. It can also slow down the thyroid’s activity.

Additionally, elevated cobalt level may raise blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, people with Lieber’s syndrome, a rare eye condition, should not take cobalt without consulting their doctors because it is an essential component of vitamin B-12. For those with this condition, some forms of vitamin B-12 may cause vision loss.



Cobalt plays a key role in various bodily functions, combined with vitamin B12 it promotes the healthy functioning of the nervous system and involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It is actively involved in the production of hemoglobin and healthy red blood cells.

It actively participate in optimizing the functioning of the cardiac system and lowers the level of homocysteine (which leads to damage of arterial walls that increase the risk of atherosclerosis).

However, never go for dose adjustments or supplement intake by yourself always refer to a health care specialist.


About the Author

Saleh Siddiqui

Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) and Content Author at KeepUpFitness.

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