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Cobalt (Co)

Cobalt is a trace element. An adult contains around one mg of cobalt, which is mainly stored in the kidneys, muscles, and bones. The nutrient is also part of the vitamin B12 molecule that is important for the formation of red blood cells and for the nervous system, among other things.

Functions and importance for

  • The production of vitamin B12
  • The production of folic acid
  • The production of blood by means of folic acid and vitamin B12

Deficiencies and poor utilisation may be caused by

Not described

Deficiency symptoms

Not described, but the following may possibly occur:

  • Insufficient folic acid and vitamin B12 metabolism
  • Anemia
  • Implications of anemia (described in the section "Folic acid" and "Vitamin B12")


Mainly beans, liver, meat, fish, eggs, and butter. Smaller amounts are found in nuts, whole-grain, vegetables, and fruit. Cobalt is also supplied as part of vitamin B12, which is mainly found in animal sources like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Cobalt content in micrograms per 100 grams

Brown and white beans 350
Cod 221
Beef liver 105
Oats 8
Carrots, spinach 1

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

Not established

Increased need

Not established

Overdosing - side effects

Very rarely seen but side effects have been observed with cobalt addition to beer as a natural foaming agent. This procedure was swiftly abandoned for the same reason.

  • Heart failure
  • In worst case cardiac arrest

Important information

Vegetarians and vegans must make sure to get enough cobalt.

Cobalt is absorbed in the small intestine by means of the same mechanisms as iron. For that reason a high cobalt intake will reduce the iron uptake.