Minerals, like boron, are essential; without them our cells would not develop or function properly, or produce the hormones and enzymes required to sustain life. We require two types of minerals to function well—macrominerals and microminerals, also known as trace minerals. Macrominerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, are needed in larger amounts, thus the prefix. Microminerals (iron, copper, zinc, iodine, selenium, and others), on the other hand, are needed in smaller quantities; yet they are just as important to health.
Mineral supplementation is essential to health
Minerals cannot be produced in the body so they must be gotten from our foods or via nutritional supplementation. We cannot rely on foods for minerals as we may have in the past; today’s conventional farming practices, including the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides, have altered soil quality, so much so that it affects the nutrient content in our foods. While organic farming is better, because of the importance of minerals, I recommend a high-quality mineral complex to all adults. You can learn more about this in my new book Live Your Best Life.
Thanks to a litany of benefits, one trace-mineral—boron—is now getting it’s time in the sun. Let’s take a look at this powerful mineral now…
Boron for healthy bones and joints
Boron is best known for promoting bone health; it helps create strong bones by activating and metabolizing the critical bone-building nutrients of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D, and helps reduce bone loss associated with menopause and aging. Studies have found that strong bones contain more boron than weak ones. In one study of people with osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis), 50% of the group realized a favorable response to a 6 mg/day boron supplement compared to only 10% receiving the placebo. Other studies indicate that boron supplementation alleviates subjective measures of arthritis in both human and animal subjects.
Boron also positively affects hormone metabolism by assisting in the production of estrogen and testosterone levels. This can be helpful for both women and men. On top of these critical functions, boron also:
- aides in wound healing
- improves the brain’s electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory, especially in the older population
- keeps the cell membranes healthy
- prevents blood clots
- reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers
- raises levels of crucial antioxidant enzymes, which protect the cells from free radical damage
- has demonstrated preventive and therapeutic effects in a number of cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- influences the formation and activity of key biomolecules, such as S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e, pronounced Sammy)—known for its help with mood regulation and arthritis—and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), critical for metabolism and mitochondrial health
- protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity
- may help ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents
- may support the development of embryos in pregnant women
Getting adequate boron levels from diet
Now that you know the importance of boron you might ask how to get more of it. The top boron-containing foods are: avocado, apricots (dried), currants, grapes (red), peaches, prunes, raisins, red kidney beans, lentils, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, peanut butter, pistachio nuts, and walnuts. The human body, however, does not store boron, so it’s important to consume foods each day that contain boron and take a nutritional supplement as needed.
The recommended daily intake of boron is anywhere from 3mg to 10mg, and a diverse, plant-food-rich diet is estimated to provide approximately 1.5 to 3 mg/day of boron. That’s why vegetarians and especially vegans that eat whole-food diets do not need to worry about boron levels as much as other people do. Because minerals are so critical to strong bones and health, I recommend a broad-spectrum mineral supplement to everyone over 40 years of age.
What’s the right amount of boron in supplement form?
The right amount varies based on diet, health conditions, and age. Boron supplementation is especially important for people whose diet is lacking in fruits and vegetables, and for people at risk for or diagnosed with osteopenia, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis (OA), or breast, prostate, or lung cancer. One to 6 mg per day is a good general recommendation, with 3mg as a good starting point. A blood test can reveal more about your mineral status.
Boron will not only help you maintain good bone health, brain health, and hormone function as you age, it will help keep you running smoothly. Incorporate more and more healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet and supplement with boron. You’ll be glad you did!
Here are a few extra tips for getting more boron in your body! Wash your clothes with Borax; it contains an important boron compound. You can also soak in Epsom salts and boron to detoxify the body and provide the body with more boron: Add one to four tablespoons of borax and a cup of Epsom salts to warm bath for a luxurious soak. The great thing about Borax is that removes fluoride, a toxic chemical typically added to public water supplies. If you are also concerned about chlorine (another toxic chemical) in your water supply, add 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid, one form of vitamin C. Note: The maximum recommended soak time is no more than 20 minutes; even a 5 to 10-minute soak to start will provide good benefits. Also, make sure that the water is not too hot; this could cause dizziness and other unwanted effects.
Newnham, R.E. (1994, November). Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints. Environmental Health Perspectives, 102 (S7):83-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.94102s783
Nielsen, F. H. (2000). The emergence of boron as nutritionally important throughout the life cycle. Nutrition 16(7), 512-514. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0899-9007(00)00324-5
Nielsen, F. H., & Meacham, S. L. (2011). Growing Evidence for Human Health Benefits of Boron. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 169–180. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156587211407638
Pizzorno L. (2015, August). Nothing Boring About Boron. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 14(4), 35–48. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712861/