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Boron is a nonmetallic element present in the diet and in the human body in trace amounts. Whether boron is an essential nutrient for humans remains in debate.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
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1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
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Boron affects calcium metabolism, and people with OA have been reported to have low bone stores of boron. Supplementing with boron may replenish stores and improve symptoms.
Boron affects calcium metabolism, and a link between boron deficiency and arthritis has been suggested.1 Although people with osteoarthritis have been reported to have lower stores of boron in their bones than people without the disease, other minerals also are deficient in the bones of people with osteoarthritis.2 One double-blind trial found that 6 mg of boron per day, taken for two months, relieved symptoms of osteoarthritis in five of ten people, compared with improvement in only one of the ten people assigned to placebo.3This promising finding needs confirmation from larger trials.
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Supplementing with boron has been reported to reduce urinary loss of calcium and magnesium. However, those already supplementing with magnesium appear to achieve no additional calcium-sparing benefit when boron is added. Therefore, people with osteoporosis should supplement with magnesium or boron, not both.
Boron supplementation has been reported to reduce urinary loss of calcium and magnesium in some,4 but not all,5 preliminary research. However, those who are already supplementing with magnesium appear to achieve no additional calcium-sparing benefit when boron is added.6 Finally, in the original report claiming that boron reduced loss of calcium,7 the effect was achieved by significantly increasing estrogen and testosterone levels, hormones that have been linked to cancer risks. Therefore, it makes sense for people with osteoporosis to supplement with magnesium instead of, rather than in addition to, boron.
One trial studying postmenopausal women combined hormone replacement therapy with magnesium (600 mg per day), calcium (500 mg per day), vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, and other nutrients for an eight- to nine-month period.8 In addition, participants were told to avoid processed foods, limit protein intake, emphasize vegetable over animal protein, and limit consumption of salt, sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, and tobacco. Bone density increased a remarkable 11%, compared to only 0.7% in women receiving hormone replacement alone.
Refer to label instructions
Boron supplementation may be beneficial, particularly in treating people with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Boron supplementation at 3–9 mg per day may be beneficial, particularly in treating people with juvenile RA, according to very preliminary research.9 The benefit of using boron to treat people with RA remains unproven.
How It Works
How to Use It
A leading boron expert has suggested 1 mg per day of boron is a reasonable amount to consume.10 People who eat adequate amounts of produce, nuts, and legumes are likely already eating two to six times this amount.11 Therefore, whether the average person would benefit by supplementing with this mineral remains unclear.
Where to Find It
Raisins, prunes, and nuts are generally excellent sources of boron. Fruit (other than citrus), vegetables, and legumes also typically contain significant amounts. Actual amounts vary widely, depending upon boron levels in soil where the food is grown.
As boron is not yet considered an essential nutrient for humans, it is not clear whether deficiencies occur. However, diets that are low in fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts provide less boron than diets that contain more of these foods.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
The relationship between boron and other minerals is complex and remains poorly understood. Boron may conserve the body’s use of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. In one study, the ability of boron to reduce urinary loss of calcium disappeared when subjects were also given magnesium.12 Therefore, boron may provide no special benefit in maintaining bone mass in the presence of adequate amounts of dietary magnesium.
Interactions with Medicines
Accidental acute exposure to high levels of boron can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rash, convulsions, and other symptoms.13 Although chronic exposures can cause related problems, the small (usually 1–3 mg per day) amounts found in supplements have not been linked with toxicity in most reports. Nonetheless, in one double-blind trial using 2.5 mg of boron per day for two months, hot flashes and night sweats worsened in 21 of 43 women, though the same symptoms improved in 10 others.14 Women whose have hot flashes or night sweats have been diagnosed as menopausal symptoms and who supplement with boron should consider discontinuing use of boron-containing supplements to see if the severity of their symptoms is reduced.
One study found that 3 mg per day resulted in increased estrogen and testosterone levels.15 Increased estrogen has also been reported in several women taking 2.5 mg per day.16 The increase in estrogen is of concern because it could theoretically increase the risk of several cancers. Although no increased risk of cancer has been reported in areas of the world where boron intake is high, some doctors recommend that supplemental boron intake be limited to a maximum of 1 mg per day.
1. Newnham RE. The role of boron in human nutrition. J Applied Nutr 1994;46:81-5.
2. Helliwell TR, Kelly SA, Walsh HP, et al. Elemental analysis of femoral bone from patients with fractured neck of femur or osteoarthrosis. Bone 1996;18:151-7.
3. Travers RL, Rennie GC, Newnham RE. Boron and arthritis: the results of a double-blind pilot study. J Nutr Med 1990;1:127-32.
4. Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, Hunt JR. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1987;1:394-7.
5. Meacham SL, Taper LJ, Volpe SL. Effect of boron supplementation on blood and urinary calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and urinary boron in athletic and sedentary women. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61:341-5.
6. Hunt CD, Herbel JL, Nielsen FH. Metabolic responses of postmenopausal women to supplemental dietary boron and aluminum during usual and low magnesium intake: boron, calcium, and magnesium absorption and retention and blood mineral concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:803-13.
7. Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, Hunt JR. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1987;1:394-7.
8. Abraham GE, Grewal H. A total dietary program emphasizing magnesium instead of calcium. J Reprod Med 1990;35:503-7.
9. Newnham RE. Arthritis or skeletal fluorosis and boron. Int Clin Nutr Rev 1991;11:68-70 [letter].
10. Nielsen FH. Facts and fallacies about boron. Nutr Today 1992(May/Jun):6-12.
11. Kelly GS. Boron: a review of its nutritional interactions and therapeutic uses. Altern Med Rev 1997;2:48-56 [review].
12. Hunt CD, Herbel JL, Nielsen FH. Metabolic responses of postmenopausal women to supplemental dietary boron and aluminum during usual and low magnesium intake: boron, calcium, and magnesium absorption and retention and blood mineral concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:803-13.
13. Nielsen FH. Ultratrace minerals: Boron. In: Shils ME, Young VR (eds). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger 1988, 281-3 [review].
14. Nielsen FH, Penland JG. Boron supplementation of peri-menopausal women affects boron metabolism and indices associated with macromineral metabolism, hormonal status and immune function. J Trace Elem Exp Med 1999;12:251-61.
15. Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, Hunt JR. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1987;1:394-7.
16. Nielsen FH, Penland JG. Boron supplementation of per-menopausal women affects boron metabolism and indices associated with macromineral metabolism, hormonal status and immune function. J Trace Elem Exp Med 1999;12:251-61.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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