There is nothing boring about the trace mineral boron. Boron has many diverse and fundamental roles in human health and possibly for the evolution of life. Boron has been studied and evaluated for a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to hormonal health, osteoarthritis, bone health, and wound healing.
Boron is a nonessential trace mineral, which is naturally present in many foods, such as beans, whole grains, avocados, nuts, fruit, and berries. The primary form of boron you derive from food, comes as boric acid. Boric acid is the combination boron, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Research is mixed on the benefits and uses of boron. Yet, several studies have indicated that boron may have a positive impact on osteoarthritis, wound healing, bone growth, and hormonal maintenance.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease which worsens with time, often resulting in mechanical issues and chronic pain. This is caused when the cartilage and other tissues within the joint break down or have a change in their structure.
Epidemiological evidence has shown that boron may be an effective treatment option for osteoarthritis [R]. In fact, in areas where boron intake is greater than or equal to 1 mg per day, the estimated incidence of arthritis ranges between 20% and 70%. In contrast, in areas where boron intake is usually 3 to 10 mg per day d, estimated incidence of arthritis ranges from 0% to 10% [R].
Evidence has shown that calcium fructoborate—a naturally occurring, plant-based, boron-carbohydrate complex exhibits positive benefits on osteoarthrosis, due to its anti-inflammatory effects [R]. In an 8-week pilot study, patient with mild to moderate OA, showed a 62-70% pain reduction in the first 8 weeks of treatment. With its impressive analgesic effects, 67% of patients had stopped using the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) medication, ibuprofen 8 weeks into treatment.
Boron plays a fundamental role in calcium and magnesium absorption and preventing bone demineralization. Boron supplementation has repeatedly been shown to markedly reduce urinary excretion of both calcium and magnesium and to increase serum levels of estradiol and calcium absorption in peri- and postmenopausal women [R].
Approximately 60% of the magnesium found in the human body is found in bones, acting as a key factor in calcium metabolism.
Studies have shown that greater intakes of magnesium can increase bone density through conserving skeletal muscle mass, which helps prevent bone frailty and age-related diseases such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis [R]
Calcium makes up a significant portion of your bones and teeth and is the most abundant mineral in the human body. You need calcium to build and maintain strong bones.
Vitamin D a steroid-like vitamin, is also essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization which contributes to overall bone density [R]. Boron also beneficially impacts vitamin-D utilization. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin d supplementation can improve muscle strength which in turn contributes to a decrease in incidence of falls, one of the largest contributors to fracture incidence. Vitamin D also contributes to the maintenance of phosphorous levels in the blood, another crucial process for strong and healthy bones.
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Boron influences the production and activity of steroid hormones. A large body of evidence has shown that boron influences the creation and levels of male and female sex hormones, such as estrogen, androgens such as testosterone, and progesterone.
An older study conducted in 1987 found that postmenopausal women on a low boron diet, that boron supplementation significantly increased their serum estradiol (E2) and testosterone levels, particularly for those women whose dietary intake of magnesium was low.
A study conducted 10 years later in 1997, found similar results and an increase in hormones in males. After only one week of boron supplementation at 6mg per day, researchers found that boron produced a significant increase in free testosterone, which rose from an average of 11.83 pg/mL to 15.18 pg/mL; and a significant decreases in serum estradiol, which dropped from 42.33 pg/mL to 25.81 pg/mL [R].
The significant decrease in the men’s plasma estradiol suggests a higher rate of conversion of total testosterone to free testosterone in the testosterone metabolic pathway [R].
Boron is naturally found in several different food items in your diet. However, daily intake can vary widely depending on specific food groups and boron concentrations in the soil. On average the boron intake is between 1.7mg and 7mg per day in the US. A diverse plant based rich diet, will provide 1.5mg – 3mg of boron per day. Boron rich foods include nuts, leafy greens, legumes, fruit, and avocados. Some of the best sources, include peanuts, raisins, prunes, pecans, apples, potatoes, and peaches.
The recommended and prescribed dosage to support bone health and prevent the loss of bone mineral density, is 3mg/day. On average Americans consume between 1-7mg per day. There is no recommended daily intake of boron, however the tolerable upper limit of boron and maximum dose, is 20mg per day. According to the World Health Organization an acceptable safe range of supplemental boron is between 1-13mg per day. Most clinical trials use 6mg per day.
If an excessive amount of boron is consumed, boron may cause toxicity, and produce side effects such as
- Kidney injury
- Loss of appetite
Research suggests that boron can provide significant benefits, specifically for hormonal maintenance, benefiting the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D. Boron can also boost magnesium and calcium absorption, which is essential for the maintenance of bone growth and maintenance, as well as reducing inflammatory markers, improving pain scores In conditions such as osteoarthritis. Eating a well-rounded diet full of leafy greens, meat, and nuts, will ensure you get an adequate amount of boron in your diet, to maintain better human health.