There is nothing boring about boron! Boron is a trace mineral that is often overlooked as an essential part of bone health as well as for its ability to help us maintain good health and keep us free from disease as we age. Through its vital role in metabolism, boron affects the way our body handles other minerals and vitamins along with the hormones estrogen, testosterone, insulin and vitamin D.
Although the importance of boron begins during embryonic formation and development, it is particularly important for preventing and combating ailments that arise during the aging process. It is beneficial for bone growth, brain function, alleviating arthritic symptoms, preventing diabetes, facilitating hormone function, assists as an anti-inflammatory and is associated with reduced risk for some types of cancers.
Boron has been shown to benefit bone growth and maintenance in several ways. It preserves the stores of calcium and magnesium in the body by reducing the loss of these key bone minerals in urine. Researchers found that postmenopausal women who ate a boron-deficient diet had an increase loss of calcium and magnesium as opposed to women who supplemented with boron on a daily basis.(1) Boron can also help the body produce and use vitamin D better, which enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization. (1). Additionally, boron plays a role in regulating estrogen function which helps to protect against bone loss.
Not only does boron help to regulate estrogen, but it also helps to balance all the sex hormones. Increased levels of estrogen and testosterone have been demonstrated in both men and women after boron supplementation.(2) (3). Improved estrogen balance may help relieve menopause symptoms as well as PMS. And because boron helps to promote healthy testosterone production, in both men and women, it might lead to improved muscle mass and strength. Maintaining muscle mass and strength is crucial to healthy bones and healthy aging.
Boron has been seen to effectively treat and prevent arthritis. It also improves mobility and decreasing arthritic pain. Through its ability to increase calcium integration into the cartilage and bone, it can prevent joint deterioration and pain.(4) Observational studies have shown that in areas of the world where boron intake is deficient, (less than 1 mg/day) the incidence of arthritis is significantly higher than in areas where boron intake is greater (10 mg/day on average) (5).
Boron has been shown to significantly suppress inflammation. Another way boron aids in decreasing the symptoms of arthritis is through its anti-inflammatory properties and reducing the levels of inflammatory markers, such as C reactive protein, in the blood.(6) Inflammation can disrupt your immune system and lead to a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease.
Boron can boost brain health. Studies have shown that boron can enhance brain function, eye-hand coordination and improve short-term memory and concentration. Boron is often thought of as a brain nutrient! (7)
An increasing number of studies have shown that boron possesses anti-carcinogenic properties. Boron-rich diets and regions where the soil and water are rich in boron correlate with lower risks of prostate, breast, cervical, and lung cancers. (8) (9) Researchers are also using a new boron-based radiation treatment on mice which is demonstrating success with slowing tumor growth without the side effects of traditional radiation treatment. (10)
Lastly, boron has shown to be instrumental in the management of blood sugar levels and for the metabolism of insulin. (11) This may be beneficial in helping to prevent and control diabetes as we age.
Boron is found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Here are the top bone nurturing food sources of boron.
Food Mg of Boron/serving
Raisins 1.5 mg in 1/3 cup
Almonds 2.8 mg in 2/3 cup
Apricots (dried) 2 g in 1/2 cup
Beans 1.4 mg in 1/2 cup
Prunes 1.2 mg in 3/4 cup
Lentils 1.5 mg in 1 cup
Chickpeas 1.5 mg in 1 cup
2. Nielsen, F., Hunt, C., Mullen, L., & Hunt, J. (1988). Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. Maturitas, 10(3), 245. doi:10.1016/0378-5122(88)90033-3
3. Naghii, M. R., Mofid, M., Asgari, A. R., Hedayati, M., & Daneshpour, M. (2011). Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 25(1), 54-58. doi:10.1016/j.jtemb.2010.10.001
4. Travers, R. L., Rennie, G. C., & Newnham, R. E. (1990). Boron and Arthritis: The Results of a Double-blind Pilot Study. Journal of Nutritional Medicine, 1(2), 127-132. doi:10.3109/1359084900900314
5. Helliwell, T., Kelly, S., Walsh, H., Klenerman, L., Haines, J., Clark, R., & Roberts, N. (1996). Elemental analysis of femoral bone from patients with fractured neck of femur or osteoarthrosis. Bone, 18(2), 151-157. doi:10.1016/8756-3282(95)00440-8
6. Ameen, H., Hussain, S., Ahmed, Z., & Aziz, T. (2015). Anti-inflammatory effects of boron alone or as adjuvant with dexamethasone in animal models of chronic and granulomatous inflammation. International Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, 701-707. doi:10.18203/2319-2003.ijbcp20150376
7. Nielsen, F. H. (2002). The Nutritional Importance and Pharmacological Potential of Boron for Higher Animals and Human. Boron in Plant and Animal Nutrition,37-49. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-0607-2_4
8. Cui, Y., Winton, M., Zhang, Z., Rainey, C., Marshall, J., Kernion, J. D., & Eckhert, C. (2004). Dietary boron intake and prostate cancer risk. Oncology Reports. doi:10.3892/or.11.4.887
9. Pizzorno, L. (n.d.). Nothing Boring About Boron – imjournal.com. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=92E769C63FA34D599563453545A1A03B&CID=39DF55FBF46562AE11E15F15F5636399&rd=1&h=NeIc_WeAzh4qwDgqupzjbfY9UaKVGefaFZdusD3u0j0&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fimjournal.com%2fopenaccess%2fpizzorno144.pdf&p=DevEx,5061.1
10. Scorei, R. I., & Popa, R. (2010). Boron-Containing Compounds as Preventive and Chemotherapeutic Agents for Cancer. Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, 10(4), 346-351. doi:10.2174/187152010791162289
11. And, N. A. (2003, November 01). Naomi A. Bakken. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/11/3577.full