Everyone knows the ‘great minerals’. These are the minerals listed on nutrition labels or added to refined grains and sweet grains. They are the ones you can buy as supplements in drugstores and pharmacies. But while magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc and iron are all very important for your health, they are not the only minerals you need. There are many other minerals that are arguably just as important for health, even if we only need them in trace amounts.
One of the most important trace minerals to consider consuming is boron.
What is boron used for?
Boron for Arthritis
While boron isn’t listed on government recommendations or added to breakfast cereals, it does have joint benefits. Honestly, it’s probably essential for joints. It’s not “essential” as your average doctor or health professional will know, but it’s essential for good joint health and function. Taking boron has a supplement if you have any form of arthritis is a good idea. Boron builds up in cartilage, bone, joints, and synovial fluid (the “lubricating fluid” contained in the joints); people with arthritis have lower levels of boron in their joints.
A 1994 study found that countries with a boron intake of less than 1 mg/day have an increased risk of arthritis – between 20-70% – while countries with a boron intake between 3 and 10 mg/day have an arthritis rate of 0-10% to have.
And in a human trial, 50% of osteoarthritis patients given 6 mg/day saw an improvement in symptoms, compared with only 10% of patients in the placebo group.
Boron for Bone Health
Boron is also good for bones. It accumulates in bone, determines how we metabolize and absorb calcium, and helps regulate bone metabolism. Case reports have shown that the bones of patients taking boron are stronger and harder to cut than bones of people not taking boron supplements.
Animal studies show that boron supplementation can alleviate some of the skeletal malformations caused by vitamin D deficiency. If this is true for humans, having enough boron may mean you need less vitamin D for bone health.
Additional health benefits of boron
While the hormonal health of bones, joints, and men is why most people use boron, there are many broad benefits associated with supplementation:
- Improved wound healing.
- Increased absorption of magnesium.
- Elevated glutathione and superoxide dismutase levels.
- Protects against damage caused by pesticide exposure and heavy metal build-up.
- Improves cognitive function in the elderly.
- Improves outcomes in animal models of various cancers, while also reducing the negative effects of preventive chemo drugs.
In other words, boron seems to help us cope with many of the problems we face in the modern inflammatory environment.
Taking Boron Supplements
Should Men Take Boron?
Boron is one of the most reliable ways for men to increase free testosterone levels. Taking 10mg of boron in the morning for 7 days increased free testosterone and decreased estrogen and sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to hormones such as testosterone and renders them useless. It also reduced the inflammatory markers hs-CRP and TNF. Overall, taking boron daily improved the hormonal profile and reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in men.
Boron seems to increase overall male vitality. In male goats, taking boron increased sperm production, motility and quality. Drill goats made more sperm and the sperm they produced was stronger and just better. They were generally healthier, with a stronger immune system and better antioxidant capabilities.
Should Women Take Boron?
Women should also consider boron. While the increase in free testosterone may not seem as relevant to women (although testosterone is important to women as well), studies show that boron supplementation can help them increase bone mineral density and reduce menstrual pain.
How much drill should you take?
Most studies use doses between 3-10 mg per day. This appears to be safe, well tolerated and physiologically normal.
What is a good boron supplement?
I’ve used Trace Minerals boron drops – they blend effortlessly and seamlessly into coffee or water with no discernible flavor. These NOW boron capsules look good too.
Some people even make their own boron concentrate with Borax or sodium borate. It’s the stuff you use to kill ants that invade your kitchen, use as a cleaning agent, or add to the washing machine. Turns out sodium borate is toxic to humans only in high doses. If you dose it correctly, you can use borax as a dietary supplement. But you have to be careful. Borax is about 11.3% boron, so one gram of borax — worth about a quarter teaspoon — contains 113 mg of boron. Add it to a measured amount of water and take small amounts every day to get the desired dose of 3-10 mg.
Why do we need to supplement boron? Is food not enough?
Food is not enough in most places. Prunes, raisins and other dried fruits are probably the best sources, followed by legumes, avocados, wine and grains. Soil levels (and therefore food levels) of boron vary wildly and supplementation is usually required to achieve physiological benefits and requirements.
If you are interested you can always google”[your location] Soil Boron Level” to get an idea of how much boron ends up in your locally grown food and groundwater. However, because so many of us eat foods grown in other areas and the boron content in foods isn’t actually tracked, it can be difficult or impossible to determine how much boron you’re getting in your diet. That’s where a supplement can really help.
Low-dose boron supplementation in the range of 3-10 mg/day is physiologically normal, safe and effective. It accumulates in bones and joints when available in the diet and improves hormonal status, inflammatory markers and bone metabolism (among other effects) when taken in small doses. All signs indicate that boron is an important, beneficial trace mineral. I see no reason not to take boron.
Have you ever taken boron? What did you notice?
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