Cobalt is a trace element mineral whose main function is in vitamin B12, although there are some cobalt-dependent enzymes. There is no evidence of cobalt deficiency in human beings, and no evidence on which to base estimates of requirements for inorganic cobalt. ‘Pining disease’ in cattle and sheep is due to cobalt deficiency (their intestinal micro-organisms synthesize vitamin B12) and it is a growth factor for some animals. Cobalt salts are toxic in excess, causing degeneration of the heart muscle, and habitual intakes in excess of 300?mg/day are considered undesirable.

An essential trace mineral. Cobalt is found in all cells but occurs in large quantities in bone marrow where it is required for the production of red blood cells. Until recently it was thought that cobalt in humans was found only as a constituent of vitamin B12 (cobalamin), but it is now known to have a role in some enzymes. Sources of cobalt include liver, lean meat, poultry, fish and milk. Recommended intakes have not been established, but excessive intakes (29.5 mg per day), which were used to treat certain anaemias, have proved toxic. High doses of cobalt salts may also contribute to heart disease. This was a problem in the 1950s when cobalt salts were added to beer in Belgium and Canada to retain the head.

Cobalt is an integral part of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), which is necessary for myelin formation - an insulating layer found around nerves, 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. The average adult body contains 2 to 5 mg of Vitamin B12, of which most is stored in the liver. Vit B12 is available in several supplemental forms, of which cyanocobalamin & hydroxycobalamin (hydroxocobalamin = injectable) are the main synthetic forms that have a cyanide molecule attached, while adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin occur as two coenzymatically active and more
efficient forms.

In animal experiments, both of these active forms have demonstrated to reduce tumor growth, with methylcobalamin being superior in promoting nerve regeneration as well. Other research has not only suggested an increase in cancer or tumor cell divisions from receiving higher doses of Vitamin B12 (without however mentioning the actual form used), but also the presence of higher Vit B12 levels with some heart and liver conditions, and acute or chronic myelogenous leukemia.

All forms of Vitamin B12 require the intrinsic factor for absorption, which in turn requires adequate stomach acid and an acid pH of 2.0 or less. Only microorganisms are capable of incorporating cobalt into Vitamin B12. Since cobalamin is not found in vegetarian food sources, herbivores get Vit B12 by eating plants that are infested with insects, or by actively eating feces to meet Vit B12 requirements, while in ruminants (sheep, cows), the microbes fermenting and digesting plant material in the rumen (the first stomach), incorporate cobalt into Vitamin B12, which is subsequently absorbed and utilized.

Other than resulting from insufficient stomach acid - for which acid-lowering drugs may also be responsible, cobalt or Vitamin B12 deficiency can develop from malfunctioning or surgical removal of parts of the stomach or small intestines, from celiac disease, parasites, or other malabsorption disorders. Cobalt Deficiency is not a major problem though as long as one has adequate amounts of Vitamin B12.

Long-term Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in demyelination of large nerve trunks and the spinal cord, in reduced white blood cells, and in pernicious anemia with symptoms of severe fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Red blood cells become abnormally enlarged and reduced platelet formation causes poor clotting and bruising. While high intake of folic acid prevents the red blood cell changes caused by a Vitamin B12 deficiency, it does not prevent the resulting nerve damage, which may only become apparent in later stages and may not be reversible.

Homocysteine is a by-product of methionine metabolism that can damage blood vessels and lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Insufficient levels of nickel, cobalt, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, folate and some other factors may lead to increased levels of this amino acid.

Cobalt Toxicity is generally also not a concern since it doesn't develop from the normal consumption of foods and beverages, unless - as with nickel - there is a natural tendency to retain too much cobalt, in which case asthma, anxiety or cardiac symptoms may be experienced. However, a number of years ago, cobalt salts were added to beer as foam stabilizers which lead to an epidemic of cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure among beer drinkers. Other effects of overdosing on cobalt (> 5mg / day) include abnormal thyroid functions, polycythemia and overproduction of red blood cells (erythropoiesis), with increased production of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) from the kidneys.

Medically, EPO can increase the red blood cell count by 25-35% so it is used to treat certain forms of anemia (i.e. in chronic kidney failure). It has also been used by athletes to improve athletic performance by increasing the oxygen-carrying ability of their blood, and to fight fatigue. The blood however thickens with excessive use of EPO, so users can suffer blood clots, strokes, heart attacks and related deaths.

Some uninformed practitioners believe that there is no overdose possible with Vitamin B12, however 5-10% of the population presents with above-normal levels of Vit B12, so if injections are erroneously given, they can trigger a number of adverse symptoms that may include coronary artery spasms with chest pains, numbness or pain down their right arm, and/or TIA-like symptoms with tingling / numbness on the right side of the face.

There is also a risk of hypokalemia, pulmonary edema, peripheral vascular thrombosis, optic nerve atrophy for someone with Leber's disease, and others. Risks from intranasal use of Vitamin B12 include glossitis, headache, sore throat, rhinitis, and feeling of "pins and needles." Individuals suffering from Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) are also vulnerable to experience a worsening, or an acute flare-up of MVP symptoms following a Vitamin B12 shot if not indicated.

Even without having had any Vitamin B12 injections, individuals who run naturally high Vitamin B12 and cobalt levels (which may include patients with mitral valve prolapse), tend to frequently suffer from tachycardia, panic-anxiety attacks, or angina-like chest pains, that may be accompanied by numbness and tingling in the face or extremities.
In contrast to cellular measurements, blood tests for cobalt or Vitamin B12 levels (including the Schilling test) are not only very unreliable, but at times alarmingly wrong, subjecting patients to improper therapy, or routinely misdiagnosing them as Psychiatric Cases, when in fact correcting their abnormal cobalt, Vitamin B12 and nickel status (or ratios) could resolve the problem.

If Vitamin B12 deficiency is suspect and there are no resources to measure cellular Vit B12 levels, then blood levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA) can help with assessing Vit B12 requirements since methylmalonic acid inversely increases with declining Vitamin B12 activity.

While estimated to be rare, dermal exposure to cobalt can - like with nickel sensitivity - trigger allergic reactions, dermatitis and asthma, whereby hypersensitivity to nickel becomes a heightened risk factor for cobalt hypersensitivity. Home or work-related contact sources of cobalt are pottery, paints, some cosmetics, costume jewelry, antiperspirants, hair dyes, dental plates, etc., and also Vitamin B12 in the form of injections (which can cause a red, itchy and tender area around the injection site) and tablets (which can trigger eczema-like dermatitis).

In addition to nickel and cobalt, chromium is another metal whose exposure may trigger an allergic reaction in some hypersensitive individuals, necessitating the use of gloves when handling any suspect metals, or applying a protective coat of varnish (or clear nail polish) on items one has to touch and use.

The cell receptors of nickel and cobalt are neurologically linked to the spinal segment T4, whereby both, its alignment, and various nutritional factors control the ratio of nickel and cobalt. Alignment problems of T4, or nutritional imbalances involving nickel, cobalt, Vitamin C, E, B12 and B15 can either result in localized physical discomfort, or they can trigger cardiac / cerebral, or emotional / anxiety-types of episodes due to blood flow changes to the heart or brain through their respective vasoconstrictive or vasodilating changes.

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