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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Cobalt

What is cobalt? Why do we need it?

Cobalt is a hard, metallic element found in the body in trace amounts. In industry, cobalt is used in the production of magnetic allows, high-temperature metallic compounds, and pigments for glass and ceramics. New research is showing that cobalt also plays a number of roles essential to general health and wellness.

In the human body, cobalt works with vitamin B12 in the form of cobalamin. Cobalt increases the body's ability to absorb and utilize vitamin B12. Previous research has shown that cobalt may be effective in treating conditions such as anemia and certain infectious diseases, and that it helps maintain and repair the myelin sheaths that surround nerve cells. Cobalt also plays a role in the regulation and stimulation of certain enzymes, and is sometimes used by the body as a substitute for zinc.

How much cobalt should I take?

As of this writing, there are no recommended daily intake levels for cobalt, because it is only found in trace amounts. However, because it is chemically bonded to vitamin B12 in the body, people who are deficient in vitamin B12 are ultimately deficient in cobalt.

What forms of cobalt are available?

Cobalt can be found in many foods, especially those that have high levels of vitamin B12, including liver, clams, oysters, lean beef, eggs, milk, yogurt, chicken, and cheese. Cobalt is also available in supplement form, usually as a tincture or type of mineral water.

What can happen if I take too much cobalt? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

No recommended daily allowance levels or dietary intake levels have yet to be established for cobalt. As of this writing, there are no known side-effects associated with cobalt as a supplement, although industrial exposure to high amounts of cobalt may produce adverse side-effects. It should not be used by women who are pregnant or nursing. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking cobalt or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Barany E, Bergdahl IA, Bratteby LE, et al. Iron status influences trace element levels in human blood and serum. Environ Res June 2005;98(2):215-23.
  • Bratman S. The Natural Pharmacist - Drug Herb Interactions Bible. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001.
  • Burnham TH. Drug Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, 2001.
  • McEvoy GK. American Hospital Formulary Service Drug Information. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health System Pharmacists, 2001.
  • Neilsen FH. Ultratrace minerals. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M (eds.) Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1994.

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