Would you like to find out more about the connection between the trace element cobalt and your health and diet? Then you'll definitely find what you're looking for here. In this article, I have compiled the most important information about this trace element, which is still relatively unknown in nutritional science.
At the beginning you will find a profile - then we will talk about the basics, daily requirements, importance for the body, possible deficiencies and overdoses and foods. Finally, I'll also give you some valuable tips on whether - and if so, what - vegans and vegetarians should bear in mind when it comes to cobalt intake.
Here is a brief overview for you in advance:
Notice: This article is not intended to replace medical advice, but merely to provide general information about cobalt. Please consult your doctor if you feel unwell or wish to prevent health problems with medical care.
Assignment: Trace element, element category transition metals
Synonyms: Cobalt, sometimes also cobalt ore
Important for:Absorption and processing of vitamin B12, production of red blood cells, presumably involved in iodine metabolism
Daily requirement: largely unknown1
Recording: by ingestion
Overdose: not defined2
Deficiency symptoms: Impaired vitamin B12 metabolism, reduced absorption of vitamin C
Food: Onions, potatoes, sunflower seeds, green peas
Food supplement: in combination with vitamin B12
CobaltCobalt, also known as cobalt or cobalt ore, is a trace element that is still relatively unexplored in human nutrition. Most people are more familiar with it from technical, industrial areas, such as alloys, magnets or lithium-ion batteries. However, we want to look at the element in the context of nutrition and the human body.
Cobalt belongs to the iron group and is stored in the body in a small amount of about 1 mg. One Feature of cobalt is that, in contrast to other trace elements, it is immediately linked to the absorption and metabolism of a vitamin is. This is because cobalt is mainly used as Cobalamin, so Vitamin B12, recorded.
How much cobalt do we need?
Nutrition societies such as the German Nutrition Society, European Food Safety Authority or the National Institutes of Health have as of February 2022 No reference values for the supply of cobalt.
Due to the close connection with vitamin B12, the daily requirement is sometimes based on the vitamin B12 requirement. The B12 requirement is 2 to 5 µg per day and includes approximately 0.2 to 0.4 µg of cobalt. Other publications recommend an intake of 2 to 100 µg per day.3 In any case, this information requires further research and, in my opinion, has little meaningfulness.
What role does the nutrient play in the body?
Cobalt is mainly used in the human body as Building block of vitamin B12 and thus serves to absorb and process the vitamin. This is why the trace element is also closely linked to the functions of B12. The trace element is also associated with the production of red blood cells. The trace element also appears to have an effect on the Nervous system and the Formation of the myelin sheath have an effect. Other nutrients whose metabolism is presumably influenced by cobalt are Vitamin C and Iodine.
The role of cobalt summarized:
- Significant influence on the absorption and processing of vitamin B12
- Contribution to the production of red blood cells
- Presumed beneficial effects on the nervous system and myelin sheath production.
- Possible influence on the metabolism of vitamin C and iodine
Can poisoning with cobalt occur?
So far still No overdosing through the supply of organic cobalt determined. Excessive intake of inorganic cobalt, on the other hand, can lead to heart muscle damage or increased iodine content.
A so-called Cobalt poisoning can therefore only be caused by the supply of inorganic cobalt. This can happen, for example, through a hip endoprosthesis, i.e. the high quantities of cobalt in artificial hip joints. The trace element can then bind to sulfhydryl groups and inactivate them. This can result in fatigue, muscle weakness, a reduced sense of smell or diseases of the heart muscle.
Can there also be a deficiency?
So far No isolated cobalt deficiency is observed. However, an inadequate intake of cobalamin can occur, resulting in the classic symptoms of a B12 deficiency. However, this cannot be compensated for with an increased cobalamin intake.
What foods contain cobalt?
For cobalt, the following applies neither too much nor too little absorbed should be. This sounds terribly complicated at first, but it is actually quite simple.
This is because cobalt is usually bound in cobalamin, i.e. vitamin B12. This means that all foods and food supplements with B12 also contain cobalt. Cobalt is generally found in onions, potatoes, sunflower seeds or Legumes is contained in cocoa powder. A particularly high content of the trace element can also be found in cocoa powder with a low oil content.
Cobalt in a plant-based diet
As no isolated cobalt deficiency has occurred to date, the nutrient does not appear to be a problematic nutrient for vegans either. Therefore the DGE Cobalt - in contrast to B12 not as a potentially critical nutrient is defined for a vegan diet.4
Should cobalt be supplemented?
There is no reason for an isolated intake of cobalt. However, it makes sense for vegans in particular to take cobalamin. You can find more information on this in the article on Vitamin B12.
Healthy and well supplied with cobalt through a plant-based diet
In conclusion, it can be said that most people have a good supply of cobalt and have not yet experienced any deficiencies. With a balanced and wholesome plant-based lifestyle, you will get enough cobalt, stay fit and be able to take many nutrition-related diseases avoid
Hopefully the article could help you and answer your questions. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment.
All the best,
1 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Reference values for nutrient intake, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/referenzwerte/?L=0. [08.02.2022].
2 European Food Safety Authority: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Vitamins and Minerals, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/efsa_rep/blobserver_assets/ndatolerableuil.pdf. [08.02.2022].
3 H.D. Belitz, W. Grosch (2008): Lehrbuch Lebensmittelchemie, 6th edition, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
4 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Supplement to the position of the German Nutrition Society regarding population groups with special nutritional needs, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/weitere-publikationen/dge-position/vegane-ernaehrung/?L=0. [08.02.2022].
5 H. K. Biesalski, et al. (2010): Cobalt in nutritional medicine. According to the new curriculum for nutritional medicine of the German Medical Association, 4th edition, Georg Thieme Verlag.