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Boron

      Boron is a trace element in human and plant nutrition. Boron is much more than just another mineral. It affects a broad range of life processes involving macrominerals, energy substrates such as glucose and triglycerides, amino acids and proteins, free radicals, bone mineralization, prostate health, mental function, estrogen metabolism and numerous body systems. Boron is a mineral that is critical to our health.

Boron and Bone Health

      One of the first recognized roles of boron in human nutrition was its contribution to promoting and maintaining good bone mineralization. Ensuring healthy bones is fundamental to any anti-aging program, since weak bones can lead to disabling and even life-threatening bone fractures. In one study of postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy, those taking boron supplements showed significantly less loss of calcium and magnesium and higher levels of hormones associated with healthy bone mass. Those who took boron supplements and were on a magnesium deficient diet demonstrated less bone and mineral loss than the same individuals not supplementing boron. Boron has also demonstrated an ability to protect against bone loss in the presence of a vitamin D deficiency.

      It has been demonstrated that the combination of Boron, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium in adequate amounts act synergistically to maintain good bone mineralization. It has been observed that dietary boron has a similar effect as supplementation with estrogen in humans.

      The reason for this is that Boron is necessary for the formation of specific steroid hormones. A clinical trial has demonstrated that both 17-beta-estradiol and testosterone levels significantly increase in postmenopausal women consuming 3 mg/day of boron for 7 weeks. In this study, boron supplementation caused a twofold increase in testosterone concentrations and a significant increase in calcium retention. In another study, men given 10 mg of boron a day for 4 weeks experienced a significant increase in 17-beta-estradiol levels and an increase in plasma testosterone.

      Boron is a trace mineral required to convert estrogen and vitamin D to their most active forms (17-beta-estradiol and 1,25-(OH)2D3 respectively). Estrogen levels drop after menopause causing osteoclasts to become more sensitive to parathyroid hormone, which signals them to break down bone. Studies have shown that boron provides protection against osteoporosis and reproduces many of the positive effects of estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women.

Boron and Osteoarthritis

      In areas around the world where boron intake is 1 mg or less per day, the incidence of arthritis ranges from 20% to 70%. In areas where boron intake is usually 3-10 mg per day, the incidence of arthritis is 0-10%. Research in Australia demonstrated that areas with high levels of boron in the soil and water had 50% fewer cases of musculoskeletal disease than areas with low concentrations of Boron in the soil and water.

      In one study involving subjects with osteoarthritis, 50% of the patients who received a daily supplement of 6 mg of boron noted less pain from movement. In another study, researchers observed that bones adjacent to joints with osteoarthritis tend to be less mineralized and have significantly lower concentrations of boron than do healthy bones.

      Again, it is Boron's ability to facilitate the formation of steroid hormones that explains its effect on arthritis. Boron can complex with hydroxyl groups and form corticosteroids, which are known to alleviate symptoms associated with multiple forms of arthritis. In addition, animal studies have demonstrated that Boron plays a role in the modulation of serum antibody levels and the inhibition of T-cell activity associated with arthritis.

Boron and Prostate Cancer

      In one study men who ingested the greatest amount of boron were 64% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who consumed the least boron. Boron compounds inhibit the activity of many serine protease enzymes, including prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Recent studies indicate that elevated PSA may promote prostate cancer. By breaking down cellular barriers, PSA may enable prostate cancer cells to more readily invade healthy tissue. In animal studies, researchers found that oral administration of a boron supplement led to substantial decreases in tumor size, ranging from 25% to 38%. In addition, PSA levels dropped by 86-89%.

Boron and Cognitive Function

      In one study, participants on a low Boron diet performed poorly in tests of manual dexterity, hand-to-eye coordination, attention, perception, and short- and long-term memory when compared to those on a high Boron diet. Inadequate boron intake can contribute to a lack of energy, ability to stay focused on tasks and mental alertness. In another experiment a group of medical students was given either a placebo or 3 mg. of Boron daily or three months. 92 percent of those taking Boron demonstrated noticeably greater mental alertness and higher participation in class discussions. Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests have demonstrated that subjects taking Boron supplements show increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with alertness when compared to subjects with inadequate Boron intake.

Boron from Food

      Since 1923 boron has been recognized as an essential nutrient for plants. Boron is the most common deficiency of any trace element in plants. The Boron concentration of food varies widely based on the availability of Boron in the soil that the food was grown on. Boron is water soluble and easily leached from the soil and is not widely replaced except in instances where plant growth is inhibited by deficiencies. For this reason, foods are often produced on soils that have suboptimum Boron levels. These foods then contain suboptimum Boron levels. Humans who consume these foods then have suboptimum Boron levels. Boron is found in significant amounts in fruits, nuts and vegetables. Some good sources include apples (42.5 micrograms/gram of dry weight), soy meal (28 ug/g), grapes, tomato, celery, almonds, broccoli, bananas, wines and honey. In the United States, estimated daily boron intake ranges from 0.5 mg to 3 mg, with 1 mg being average.

Boron Dosage

      Although there is no recommended dietary allowance for boron, evidence places the optimal daily Boron intake at 2-3 mg or more daily. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for boron set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine for Boron has been established at 20 mg/day for adults over the age of 18 years.

Boron Drug Interactions

      No drug interactions with Boron were found at the time this was written.

Boron Side Effects, Precautions and Adverse Reactions

      Because Boron is water soluble, the potential for toxicity is low. The small (usually 1-3 mg per day) amounts found in supplements have not been linked with toxicity. It has been reported that supplements of 10 mg of Boron per day have not produced any adverse reactions.

      Taking too much Boron (over 500 milligrams daily) or taking it for too long may cause nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), diarrhea, breathing problems, tightness in the throat or chest, chest pain, skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin.

      Individuals with kidney disease may have difficulty eliminating Boron and this could cause an unhealthy accumulation. Individuals with kidney disease should be under a doctors supervision when taking any mineral supplements including Boron.

      In one study, some menopausal women (using 2.5 mg of Boron per day for two months) reported worse night sweats and hot flashes while others reported an improvement in the same symptoms. It appears that Boron has an influence on the endocrine system that may affect menopausal symptoms. Anyone experiencing adverse reactions should discontinue using the supplement and consult their physician.


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