Boron is a trace mineral which is utilized in relatively small amounts in the body. Compared to minerals such as calcium and magnesium, boron and its benefits are not as well-known.
Even though it’s a trace mineral, boron still possesses biological activity. A study at the University of Illinois quantified boron levels in 12 human tissue sites, including bone, skin, and muscle.
The positive effects of boron became better known when Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw began reporting new research on the subject. Below we’ll touch on many of the roles boron plays in health.
A study showed that 3 mg of boron per day reduced the urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium and increased serum levels of the hormones 17 beta-estradiol and testosterone. These changes suggest that boron could be of value to postmenopausal women at increased risk of bone deterioration.
In 1990, Dr. F.H. Nielsen reported that a deficiency of boron and magnesium caused negative bone changes and that boron deprivation resulted in changes with calcium metabolism that could be detrimental to bone formation and maintenance. Some of these changes include depressed plasma ionized calcium and calcitonin, and increases in plasma total calcium and urinary calcium excretion.
Boron’s positive role in bone metabolism may be due to its interactions with magnesium and vitamin D as well as calcium.
In addition to its protective effect against osteoporosis, boron has long been the subject of research related to its therapeutic benefit against osteoarthritis.
In areas where boron intake is low, osteoarthritis has been estimated to afflict 20 to 70% of the population compared with 0 to 10% in areas where boron intake ranges from 3 to 10 mg.
In a double-blind trial, improvement in osteoarthritis occurred among 71% of those who received 6 mg per day boron.
One of the mechanisms through which boron exerts its beneficial activities is its ability to reduce serum C-reactive protein (CRP), indicating a reduction in inflammation that’s associated with osteoarthritis and other adverse conditions.
A study compared the effects of taking 0.25 mg and 3.25 mg of boron per day. A test measuring the electrical activity of the brain revealed effects in the low boron group similar to those characteristic of malnutrition and heavy metal toxicity.
Compared with the high dose group, the lower dose was associated with poorer performance on specific cognitive and psychomotor tasks, including those that emphasized manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, attention, and perception, as well as short- and long-term memory.
A 2015 study of women experiencing painful menstrual cramps found that 10 mg of boron daily, beginning two days before menstruation for a total of five days, significantly reduced pain duration and severity after the intervention.
The researchers involved in the study attribute the benefit to boron’s anti-inflammatory property.
Other research has uncovered diverse and positive effects.
Higher boron levels have been linked with lower body mass index in a study of normal, overweight, and obese men and women.
Prudent intake of boron might even be linked to longer life: Supplementing the diet of Drosophila flies with a very low dose of boron extended life span by 9.5%.
No discussion of boron would be complete without mentioning its effects against cancer, particularly of the prostate, breast, cervix, and lung.
In his 2014 “Update on human health effects of boron,” F. H. Nielsen noted that intake of less than 1.0 mg per day of boron is insufficient to provide the benefits associated with the mineral. For most people, 3 to 6 mg per day is sufficient, but some may need to take 9 to 12 mg.
Boron is found in fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts; however, amounts obtained in the diet may not be optimal. Therefore, it may be necessary to take additional boron.