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Health Benefits of Boron


ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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You may not have heard about boron, or how it may benefit your health.

In this article, we shall outline what it is, and what scientific evidence is available to help you understand why you should not overlook boron supplementation.

Here's what's covered:

  • What's boron?
  • Its role
  • Food sources
  • Deficiency
  • Benefits
  • Side Effects
  • Conclusion

Boron…the beginning

military muscle customer testimonial

Whilst boron is not on everyone’s nutritional radar it is present in some foods due to it being part of the structure required for plant and seed development. We probably consume around 2mg daily without knowing.

It is a trace element such as zinc, at present it isn’t considered an ‘essential’ nutrient, but this may be merely due to our limited scientific knowledge, but, as you’ll find out it is definitely a relevant nutrient for human function. [1]

So, we know that it is a constituent part of plants, and that it is a trace element, but is there anything else?

A bit of research regarding the history of boron shows that it has been known about since the early 1800s, 1808 to be exact and was discovered by scientists in Paris and London.

Most boron reserves are found in the USA, Turkey and Russia. Its essential role for plant growth also means it is safe for animals and humans. [2]

Boron’s Role

teeth xray

It is said that boron has a role which helps regulate other minerals such as calcium for bone metabolism.

A study of postmenopausal women saw that supplementation of 3mg of boron per day resulted in less magnesium and calcium being excreted in their urine. [3]

A lack of magnesium and calcium can result in poor bone development; therefore, it has been identified that boron has an important role in bone health. [4]

Further analysis has linked a dietary deficiency with growth retardation that correlated with low steroidal concentrations such as testosterone. [5]

There is also an acceptance that boron influences the chemical processes within your body that maintain organ function and essentially keep you alive. [6]

A such, just from these titbits of information we can see there is an important role for boron for human function.

Sources

As mentioned, boron can be found in plants, or plant-based foods.

Boron is also found in the in some volcanic spring water and there are substantial deposits in the Mojave Desert located in the US. [7]

However, it is unlikely we will want to start digging in the ground or bottling water near a volcano. Therefore, the best way to consume boron is either from foods or supplements.

The World Health Organization suggest that intake should be around 1-13mg daily. [8]

Here are some of the easily obtainable food sources. There are quite a few, so we will limit it to those that offer the most boron per serving.

avocado

Foods containing Boron

  • Prune Juice – 1.43mg
  • Raw avocado – 1.07mg
  • Raisins (42g) – 0.95mg
  • 1 peach – 0.80mg
  • Grape juice – 0.76mg
  • 1 apple – 0.66mg
  • 1 pear – 0.50mg
  • Peanuts (28g) – 0.48mg
  • Refried beans – 0.48mg
  • Peanut butter – 0.46mg

As you can see, these are not uncommon foods. It is highly likely that you already consume them day-to-day.

However, what you may notice is how little boron is provided, that means if you were to reach 13mg on a daily basis you would have to drink a lot of prune juice or eat a lot of pears and apples.

This is why sometimes; people prefer to supplement their nutrition plan with a product such as Military Muscle which contains 10mg. This way you know you are going to get a solid amount daily.

But why is it so important that we are not deficient in boron?

Boron Deficiency

A deficiency of boron can lead to a number of problems.

We have already discussed the way boron interacts with other minerals, enzymes and even hormones but there’s growing evidence that it may also affect cognitive function and even reducing serum vitamin D levels. [9]

Health Benefits

Needless to say, it is clear that a boron deficiency is worth avoiding, plus there are simple and cost-effective ways of including boron in your diet, it is not classified as an essential nutrient (yet!) but why should we be concerned about becoming boron deficient? What are the real benefits?

man running in mountains

Growth

Our body requires strong bones, it’s what supports all of our organs, connecting muscles with tendons and provides structure.

Weak bones lead to fractures and injury. It is common in people when they age, and is a disease called osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Both are related and is the occurrence of bone loss, it’s just that the former is where there is very low bone density and osteopenia affects 50% of Americans over 50. [10]

Oesteoporosis is a further development of bone loss and increases the risk of fractures to a much higher level.

There are a number of reasons why bone loss occurs, a lack of exercise is one of them, but so is reduced calcium and vitamin D intake. [11]

In studies, boron has demonstrated to almost half the loss of calcium through urine whilst also increasing its absorption. [12]

This effect of minimising a loss of nutrients was also evident for magnesium while also improving vitamin D utilisation which all improves bone growth and development. [13]

Hormones

As men grow, develop and age, their testosteroe levels fluctuate. They see a peak in their late teens, but as they age, testosterone levels steadily decline.

While a decline is natural, it leaves the person graduallly losing all of the benefits that comes with testosterone.

There’s evidence available that shows supplementation of boron increases both testosterone and estradiol in men and women.

In one study, after just one week of 6mg of boron being supplemented there were significant increases of testosterone and a reduction of estradiol. [14]

These findings suggest that older men should supplement with boron to combat the decline of free testosterone.

A further study which involved healthy men taking 10mg of boron daily with their breakfast saw that their free testosterone levels increased. [15]

These results have not gone unnoticed. The Journal of Nutrition and Health suggest further research for use by athletes. [16]

Anti-inflammatory

A study involving women saw that supplementation of boron increased white blood cell numbers. [17] Boron is also demonstrating its ability to destroy reactive oxygen species (ROS). [18]

While ROS may sound harmless, it’s an unstable molecule. Too many can cause cell death. [19]

Research noted that just one week of boron supplementation at 10mg per day saw significant decreases of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).

This is very positive, because high levels of hs-CRP in the blood is a sign of inflammation within the arteries increasing the risk of cardiovascular event plus a number of other diseases such as obesity and metabolic syndrome. [20]

It is thought that boron has the ability to supress enzymatic activity that is usually raised at the site of inflammation and thus reduce the severity. [21]

Arthritis

One of the most common forms of arthritis in the United Kingdom is called osteoarthritis. When people think of arthritis, it is usually this form that comes to mind. It is the stiffening of joints that also become painful. [22]

Fortunately, studies have shown that boron can be used as a safe and effective treatment. [23] Additionally, regions whereby the population consume higher levels of boron see much lower indices of osteoarthritis. Confirming a correlation between boron intake and its effect on bone health. [24]

Boron has also been shown to reduce pain for sufferers as well as improve mobility after doses of 6 to 12mg daily. Very significant improvements were seen from just one month of supplementation with further improvements after two months use. [25]

Antioxidant

There’s evidence that outlines boron supports antioxidant enzyme activity such as catalase which protects cells from oxidative damage from ROS. [26]

Cognitive Effect

It has been reported that boron has the capability to reduce drowsiness, improve psychomotor skills and cognitive function for older people. [27]

This may be due to findings that outline a boron deficiency is associated with a negative effect on the central nervous system in the rat model as well as a change of brain frequency activity. [28]

This change saw less activity in the higher frequencies but more in the lower frequency that is associated with impaired memory. [29]

Cancer

Boron appears to have a positive effect on cancer cells, particularly prostate cancer. A study saw that boron intake was related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. [30]

However, it’s not just prostate cancer cells that are inhibited as there is evidence for boron’s effectiveness against breast cancer, [31] cervical [32] and lung cancer [33].

Furthermore, where traditional anti-cancer drugs are used as part of a chemotherapy regime destroy rapidly dividing cells which is a feature of the majority of cancer cells, they also kill non-cancerous cells that behave in a similar manner. [34]

On the other hand, boric acid has demonstrated that it can aid the use of these drugs and protect cells. [35]

Boron for Athletes & Military 

kick boxers

Many people will look at boron and expect dramatic changes and huge athletic benefit. 

However, it is not a magic potion. It is to support your overall nutrient intake as we can see a deficiency can have negative effects which may reduce performance.Yet the benefits from ensuring you get around 10mg of boron can help keep you in good condition as outlined by the Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition. [36]

A study including female athletes saw an increase of bone mineral density and serum magnesium concentration. [37]

Side Effects

The literature from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine suggests that acute boron ingestion that is far above the recommended doses doesn’t require aggressive treatment, and that most people will not suffer from any symptoms. [38]

Potential symptoms that were present in the few cases that showed included:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Light-headedness

Tolerable limits

Whilst even accidental consumption of high doses seems to be tolerable, extremely high doses of 15,000 to 20,000mg can cause death. [39]

Therefore, it is advisable to stick to a maximum of 20mg daily as outlined by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

Conclusion

The information presented from a varying number of reputable sources suggest that boron should be given more consideration.

It isn’t an essential nutrient, and therefore many people may overlook it, however, its positve effects benefit people across a wide demographic spectrum.

Western diets are lacking the foods high in boron [40] that would help you reach that sweet spot of around 10mg.

It would be fairly difficult to knowingly consume too much, however, even if a mistake occurs the safety of boron is good and side effects would seem to be minimal.

Try to eat more plant-based products or try using a supplement to bump up your intake that can help regulate your hormones, promote healthy bone development and reduce inflammation among other benefits for your health.

military muscle 4 bottles

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References:

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18366532/

[2] https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/5/boron

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3678698/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2222801/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8140253/

[6] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12011-018-1284-3

[7] https://periodic.lanl.gov/5.shtml

[8] https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/9241561734/en/

[9] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Boron-HealthProfessional/#en8

[10] https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/osteopenia-when-you-have-weak-bones-but-not-osteoporosis

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621390/

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8329361/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7889878/

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21129941/

[15] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49656718_Comparative_effects_of_daily_and_weekly_boron_supplementation_on_plasma_steroid_hormones_and_proinflammatory_cytokines

[16] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/026010609901300104

[17] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291520-670X%281999%2912:3%3C251::AID-JTRA8%3E3.0.CO;2-I

[18] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291520-670X%281996%299%3A4%3C215%3A%3AAID-JTRA7%3E3.0.CO%3B2-P

[19] https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/reactive-oxygen-species

[20] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X10001148

[21] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291520-670X%281999%2912%3A3%3C221%3A%3AAID-JTRA6%3E3.0.CO%3B2-X

[22] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoarthritis/

[23] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7889887/

[24] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17419890/

[25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712861/

[26] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18274294/

[27] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10050926/

[28] https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.94102s765

[29] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323792821_The_Physiological_Role_of_Boron_on_Health

[30] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15010890/

[31] https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3160&context=rtds

[32] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17295277/

[33] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18343880/

[34] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0928098709002449

[35] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20300661/

[36] https://www.caasn.com/boron-testosterone-boosters.html

[37] https://www.jstor.org/stable/3431967?seq=1

[38] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3370093/

[39] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29173473/

[40] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02783127