cobalamin, cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin
Cobalt is a hard, gray metal element. It’s part of vitamin B-12. This vitamin is essential
for making red blood cells (erythropoiesis). It also maintains the nervous system.
Cobalt is in the body only as part of vitamin B-12.
Cobalt has some of the same jobs as manganese and zinc. It can replace manganese in
activating several enzymes. These are called biochemical reaction activators. It can
also replace zinc in some biochemical reactions.
Cobalt is also part of the biotin-dependent Krebs cycle. This is the process that
the body uses to break down sugars into energy.
Medically valid uses
As part of B-12, cobalt is used to prevent pernicious anemia. It’s also needed to
keep the nervous system working well.
There are no claims based upon cobalt as a single element.
As part of supplements, cobalt is measured in micrograms (mcg). The average adult
intake of cobalt is 5 to 8 mcg per day. A safe Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
for cobalt hasn’t been set yet.
Trace amounts of cobalt are found in most foods. Foods high in vitamin B-12 are the
only source of cobalt used by the body.
It’s best to take cobalt as part of vitamin B-12.
If you have a cobalt deficiency, this also means you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Anemia is a main cause of a cobalt and vitamin B-12 deficiency. This is the case with
pernicious anemia. Symptoms can include numbness, severe tiredness (fatigue), and tingling
in your hands and feet. Over time, the condition also leads to decreased nerve function.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
Cobalt is toxic to the heart muscle. It can cause heart muscle disease (toxic cardiomyopathy)
after too much exposure.
An increase in red blood cells (polycythemia) may be a symptom of too much cobalt.
Not treating this issue can cause congestive heart failure.
Too much intake of cobalt may cause enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter). It
can also reduce the activity of the thyroid. Cobalt may also increase blood sugar
Since cobalt is a key part of vitamin B-12, people with Leber syndrome, a rare eye
condition, should not take it without talking to their healthcare providers. Some
forms of vitamin B-12 may lead to vision loss in people with this issue.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their healthcare providers
before taking any supplements.
There are no known food or medicine interactions with cobalt.
There have been reports of high levels of cobalt in people who had hip replacements
that used metal-on-metal devices. Symptoms of a higher level of cobalt in the blood