Cobalt is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin B12 (cobalamine), which is produced by microorganisms through the process of bacterial fermentation. Humans are reliant on animal sources of vitamin B12 as our digestive system does not have the necessary bacteria to produce B12 from cobalt-rich plant sources. Therefore, most of our dietary cobalt (and vitamin B12) comes from these meat and other animal products, as well as from foods produced through fermentation processes. Cobalt's function in the body is essentially the same as vitamin B12, including producing red blood cells. Cobalt also serves some of the same purposes as manganese and zinc in some enzymatic and biochemical reactions, and participates in the Krebs-cycle, which is the process the body uses to break down sugar into energy.
Dietary Sources of Cobalt:
Liver, kidney, heart, and pancreas, clams, oysters, extra-lean beef, seafood, eggs, milk and yogurt, chicken, cheese, and miso (a fermented soybean product).
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Cobalt's most well-recognized function is as a component of vitamin B12, a vitamin essential for producing red blood cells and maintaining the nervous system. Anemia, specifically pernicious anemia, is one of the obvious symptoms of a cobalt deficiency. A cobalt deficiency is ultimately also a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is also essential for maintaining the nervous system. Cobalt serves some of the same purposes as manganese and zinc. Cobalt participates in the Krebs-cycle, which is the process the body uses to break down sugar into energy. Cobalt supplements may be necessary for diets deficient in animal proteins, for strict vegetarian diets, or those with B-12 absorption problems.
Ruminants depend in part upon the presence of the trace element cobalt in the soil to convert fibrous raw materials from forages into nutrient-dense meat and milk. Ruminant animals such as cows can produce vitamin B12 if there is adequate cobalt in the diet. Monogastric ("one stomach") animals are much more dependent upon the intake of actual B12, "ready made" in the diet. Cobalt interacts with iodine to promote normal thyroid function and contributes to resistance against parasites and infection. In humans, cobalt seems to help strengthen the integrity of the blood vessels, stimulate adequate eye mucous for lubrication, improve nail growth and stop the growth of warts. Excessive amounts of copper, zinc and iodine may create shortfalls of cobalt. Like all trace elements in the soil, cobalt is a precursor to enzymes. Cobalt deficiency is associated with the incidence of Johnne's disease, the ruminant analog of Crohn's disease in humans.
Cobalt is synergistic with nickel. Cobalt specifically affects the right coronary artery, resulting in vasodilation with low levels, and vasoconstriction with high levels, while nickel exerts the same effect on the left coronary artery. Pernicious anemia can result from cobalt deficiency, for which Vitamin B12 is a well-known treatment. Cobalt is an integral part of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), which is necessary for myelin formation, to supports red blood cell production, and it is also essential for the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, the synthesis of proteins, and the conversion of folate to its active form. Cobalt or Vitamin B12 deficiency can develop from malfunctioning or surgical removal of parts of the stomach or small intestines, stomach acid-lowering drugs, celiac disease, parasites, or other malabsorption disorders.
Vitamin B12 contains cobalt and is exclusively synthesised by bacteria and is found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products. Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the metabolism of fatty acids essential for the maintainence of myelin. Prolonged Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve degeneration and irreversible neurological damage.
Currently used methods to enhance athletic performance by increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood usually involve stimulation of erythropoiesis. Cobalt chloride is a well established chemical inducer of hypoxia-like responses such as erythropoiesis.
Study with dietary supplementation in 5 male and 5 female volunteers who ingested approximately 1000 μg cobalt(II) chloride for a period of 31 days. Supplement intake was not associated with significant overt adverse events, alterations in clinical chemistries.
The activity and function of cobalt is essentially the same as vitamin B12, hence, meaning that cobalt plays a major role in the process of erythropoiesis, the process wherein erythrocytes or red blood cells are produced.
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Cobalt has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for the any of the following topics indicated in the links above: anemia, red blood cell formation, vitamin b12 deficiency
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