Cobalt is an essential trace metal element in the human diet, being an integral component of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin). It can be found in certain ores with other metals such as nickel, copper or arsenic. It has high melting and boiling points, approximately 1,500°C and 3,000°C, respectively. Cobalt has elemental, organic, and inorganic forms. When combined with tungsten carbide, the material is termed "hard metal" and is used for industrial cutting, drilling, and polishing. Cobalt is also found in jewelry alloys and has ferromagnetic properties making it a useful component in magnets.
Rubratope-57 (Cyanocobalamin Co 57 Capsules) is intended for the diagnosis of pernicious anemia and as a diagnostic adjunct in other defects of intestinal vitamin B12 absorption. Cobalt-60, a radionuclide of cobalt, is used as a source for radiation therapy, in industrial radiography, and in the sterilization of foods and spices, as well as in linear accelerators and leveling devices. Historically, inorganic cobalt salts were used for the treatment of anemia including during pregnancy and were also the cause of "beer drinkers cardiomyopathy" resulting from cobalt additives to beer to stabilize foam. More recently, an excess body burden of cobalt has been linked to failing cobalt alloy metal-on-metal hip joint replacements.