What is cobalt? Cobalt is an essential trace element. Cobalt is a constituent of vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
AdvertisementsIts deficiency, essentially the insufficiency of vitamin B12, can cause several disease symptoms, including pernicious anemia, hyperhomocysteinemia, neuropsychiatric manifestations and goiter. The Co atom in cobalamin is attached and surrounded to a deoxyadenosyl group, methyl group, and a cyano group or hydroxyl group.
Cobalt in foodCobalt as cobalamin is essential for several body functions. Co in its salt forms as Cobalt chloride (CoCl2), nitrate (Co(NO3)2), carbonate (CoCO3) or sulfate (CoSO4) is required for vitamin B12 (cobalamin) synthesis by bacteria. The cobalamin synthesis by bacteria actively takes place in the rumen of ruminants. In other non-ruminant herbivores and humans, cobalamin is synthesized by bacteria in the colon.
Cobalt benefits and functions
- Cobalt is essential for normal thyroid function.
- It is found to be essential for the normal development of child's body and the function of the cardiovascular system.
- It influences DNA synthesis.
- Co stimulates erythrocytes production.
- Co influences maturation of erythroid stem cells and haemoglobin synthesis.
- It helps with repair of the myelin sheath.
Cobalt and physical developmentAnalysis of hair cobalt content, pointed towards high incidence of its deficiency (89%) in elementary school children of the Republic of Tatarstan. Svyatova NV et al. in their 2013 study found that there was significant correlations between physical development and cardiovascular system with hair Co content. They concluded that, "positive balance of cobalt is essential for normal growth and development of child's body and function of the cardiovascular system."
The role of cobalt in iron-deficiency anemiaMaria Georgieva Angelova et al. on their study on iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) found that the cobalt mean serum concentration were significantly lower in children with IDA than healthy controls. Co plays an important role in the processes of erythropoiesis by stimulating erythrocytes production by activation of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α).
Cobalt deficiency causesA cobalt insufficiency is ultimately also a vitamin B12 insufficiency. Co inadequacy arises due to several causes. Poor dietary intake of vitamin B12, malabsorption, severe malnutrition, protein energy malnutrition, vegan lifestyle, certain intestinal disorders and certain medications can cause the inadequacy of this nutrient.
Cobalt deficiency symptomsCobalamin insufficiency can give rise to severe symptoms and cause irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system. Low levels of vitamin B12 in the blood serum can give rise to symptoms like glossitis, fatigue, depression and poor memory. As the conditions progresses, symptoms like polyneuropathy, cognitive deficits, reduced immune function, pernicious anemia and hyperhomocisteinemia will appear.
Cobalt deficiency and goiterThe study conducted by Mojgan Sanjari et al. in 2014 on endemic goiter in the city of Herman (Iran), established that apart from iodine, the endemic Cobalt deficiency had lead to symptoms of goiter in school-aged children. Even decades after iodine deficiency control program was initiated in 1989 by iodizing salt, the incidence of goiter has remained an endemic condition in most parts of Iran. Studies revealed that goitrous children when compared to non-goitrous children, had lower serum Co levels. The authors concluded that, "Cobalt deficiency may be an important independent predictor for goiter in endemic regions, especially areas in which goiters persist despite salt iodization programs." The cobalt deficiency and its symptoms are treated by vitamin B12 replacement therapy.
1.Sanjari M, Gholamhoseinian A, Nakhaee A. The Association between Cobalt Deficiency and Endemic Goiter in School-Aged Children. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2014 Sep;29(3):307-11.
2.Svyatova NV, Sitdikov FG, Egerev ES. Effect of cobalt on parameters of the cardiovascular system in elementary school children. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2013 Jul;155(3):312-3.
3.Maria Georgieva Angelova, Tsvetelina Valentinova Petkova-Marinova, Maksym Vladimirovich Pogorielov, Andrii Nikolaevich Loboda, Vania Nedkova Nedkova-Kolarova, Atanaska Naumova Bozhinova. Trace Element Status (Iron, Zinc, Copper, Chromium, Cobalt, and Nickel) in Iron-Deficiency Anaemia of Children under 3 Years. Anemia. 2014; 2014: 718089.