Cobalt deficiency that is related to vitamin B12 deficiency is a cause of pernicious anaemia. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness in limbs such as arms and legs, numbness and tingling in arms and legs, nausea, weight loss, confusion and headache.
Prolonged cobalt deficiency causes neurological disorders, nerves damage, memory loss, mood changes, psychosis and may be death.
Who is at risk?
People with injuries, anorexia nervosa, bulimia and vegetarians are at high risk for lack of cobalt in their body.
What does cobalt do?
It is required in the nervous system to prevent demyelination. As a part of vitamin B12, it is essential in normal production and functioning of cells. It stimulates the formation of red blood cells and production of antibacterial and antiviral compund that prevent infections. It also activates some enzyme functions and minute quantity is needed to synthesise vitamin B12.
Cobalt also interacts with iodine to promote normal thyroid fucntioning.
What is the daily requirement of cobalt?
The daily requirement for an adult is 5 – 8 mg.
Source of cobalt
Cobalt gets its name from a German word kobold which means goblin.
Cobalt can be found in liver, kidney, oysters, clams, fish, milk, fermented soy product and beer (cobalt is added to promote foaming).
Nonetheless, cobalt is toxic and may cause heart problems, including congestive heart failure if taken more than the usual need. It may also promote overproduction of red blood cells, which can increase the risk of clots and strokes.
It is used to treat pernicious anaemia in the form of vitamin B12.