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In our body only trace amounts of the essential mineral cobalt is present. It is a key constituent of cobalamin or vitamin B12, which is the primary biological reservoir of cobalt. Thus the function of cobalt is interwoven with that of vitamin B12.
Cobalt itself has a few other functions: it helps form the myelin which covers the nerves and it activates a few important enzymes in the metabolism.
Dietary sources of cobalt are the same as vitamin B12, such as foods of animal origin. Liver, kidney and heart are rich in cobalt.
Other good sources are clams, oysters, extra-
Plants and fruits are generally poor in cobalt and vitamin B12.
The recommended daily intake is 2.4 micrograms as vitamin B12.
Vegetarians have a high risk of developing cobalt and vitamin B12 deficiency. For this reason vegetarians are recommended supplements of vitamin B12.
Deficiency can lead to severe anemia, fatigue, circulation problems, gastrointestinal problems, and failure in myelin sheath formation. It may also lead to slow growth rate.
An excess of cobalt in the form of soluble cobalt salts is very toxic and can lead to cardiac myopathy, goiter and nerve deafness. Cobalt is eliminated from the body almost entirely by the kidneys.
Intake of vitamin B12 in large doses is not toxic.
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