Boron: A Mighty Micronutrient for Bone Health

The “usual suspects” when reading about nutrients for bone health are calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and possibly one or two more powerful nutrients.
But research has shown, that there are many key nutrients for bone health, and just because some of them are needed only in tiny amounts doesn’t make them any less important. Take boron, one of those often overlooked micronutrients that are crucial for optimal bone health.

Boron is a trace mineral that plays a pivotal role in bone growth and maintenance. Studies have found that boron’s supplementation can significantly reduce calcium loss and improve vitamin D utilization in the body. Research shared that it also beneficially impacts the production and activity of important hormones like estrogen and testosterone, which are essential for bone health.

One research demonstrated that a daily boron supplementation of just 3 mg can have a positive effect on bone density and strength. This is especially important for postmenopausal women, who are at higher risk of osteoporosis and bone loss.

Interestingly, the average American diet only provides about 1-3 mg of boron per day. This suggests that many people may not be getting enough of this critical nutrient from their diet alone. Incorporating boron-rich foods like prunes, raisins, avocados, and leafy greens can help, but a small supplement may also be beneficial for maintaining healthy bones.

Dietary Boron: Bone Nutrients “Booster”

Many people are unaware of boron’s bone health benefits. This mineral acts as a “booster” for several essential bone-building processes. It significantly affects the metabolism of calcium and magnesium, two critical minerals for bone health. When these mineral levels are inadequate, calcium excretion increases and magnesium absorption decreases, both of which are detrimental to bone health. Conversely, ensuring sufficient boron levels can rapidly reverse these problems

In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), postmenopausal women who were put on a low-boron diet (0.25 mg/d) for 119 days and then supplemented with 3 mg/d of boron for two 28-day trials experienced a remarkable reduction in calcium loss. When magnesium intake was low, it supplementation reduced calcium excretion by 52 mg/d, and when magnesium levels were adequate, the reduction was 22 mg/d.

This mineral also plays a crucial role in maintaining adequate vitamin D levels, another essential nutrient for bone health. It helps the body utilize vitamin D more effectively by stabilizing this otherwise ephemeral nutrient. The same 3 mg/d boron supplementation used in the studies on calcium and magnesium resulted in a 39% increase in vitamin D levels within approximately 2 months in boron-deficient individuals.

The benefits of boron extend beyond bone health. It also plays a role in hormone balance, brain function, and reducing inflammation. However, the average American diet often falls short in providing sufficient boron, with intakes around 1 mg/d due to the low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Many studies on human health demonstrate that the benefits of this mineral are typically seen with a dose of 3 mg/d or higher.

The Do’s and Don’ts

The ‘Do’s’ Boosting Boron Intake Through Whole Foods – Boron is a mineral found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. While research on its health benefits is limited, some studies suggest boron may play a role in bone health and brain function.

The best way to get boron is through a varied diet rich in boron-containing foods like

  • Avocados: 1.07 mg per 1/2 cup
  • Prune juice: 1.43 mg per cup
  • Raisins: 0.95 mg per 1.5 oz
  • Peaches: 0.80 mg per medium peach
  • Peanuts and peanut butter: 0.48-0.46 mg per 1 oz and 2 tbsp, respectively
  • Apples: 0.66 mg per medium apple
  • Broccoli: 0.40 mg per cup

Eating a variety of these boron-rich fruits, vegetables, and nuts can help ensure you’re getting enough of this important mineral. For those with dietary restrictions, boron supplements of 3 mg per day have been shown to be safe and effective.

The ‘Don’ts’ of Dietary Boron – While it is beneficial in the right amounts, it’s crucial to avoid certain forms of the mineral. One major “don’t” is turning to boric acid or borax (sodium borate) for dietary supplementation.

Boric acid and borax are caustic chemicals that can be found in pesticides and cleaning products. Consuming these forms of boron can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes, and ingesting as little as 21 grams of boric acid has been reported to cause serious poisoning.

Unfortunately, some sketchy health advice online has advocated using boric acid or borax for their purported health benefits. However, these claims are not based on sound scientific evidence. While ongoing research is exploring whether these boron-containing molecules could have potential medical uses, this does not mean they are safe to consume.

The bottom line is that you should stick to getting your boron from natural food sources and avoid any products containing boric acid or borax. Boosting your bone health is best achieved through a balanced, nutrient-rich diet – not by ingesting dangerous chemicals.

References

Pizzorno L, Frassetto L, Sellmeyer DE, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A. Aging, Acid-Base Status, and Mineral Metabolism. Semin Nephrol. 2009;29(5):546-559. doi:10.1016/j.semnephrol.2009.07.004

Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, Hunt JR. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J. 1987;1(5):394-397.

Pizzorno L. Nothing Boring About Boron. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Aug;14(4):35-48.

Price CT,* Langford JR, Liporace FA. essential nutrients for bone health and a review of their availability in the average North American Diet. Open Orthop J. 2012; 6: 143–149.

Rainey CJ , et al., . Daily boron intake from the American diet.
J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Mar;99(3):335-40.

Pizzorno L. Boron: an overlooked player in human health. J Restorative Med. 2015;4(1):29-45. doi:10.14200/jrm.2015.4.0103

Zofkova I, Davis M, Blahos J. Trace elements have beneficial, as well as detrimental effects on bone homeostasis. Physiol Res. 2017 Jul 18;66(3):391-402. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

Devirian TA, Volpe SL. The Physiological Effects of Dietary Boron. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(2):219-231. doi:10.1080/10408690390826491

Hunt CD. Regulation of enzymatic activity: one possible role of dietary boron in higher animals and humans. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998;66(1-3):205-225. doi:10.1007/BF02783139

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by shalw

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