The trace mineral, Boron is a little spoken about, but nevertheless an important essential micronutrient. From studies of osteoporosis, I knew it was beneficial for bone health, but when looking a bit deeper, I discovered it has a host of other benefits.
This brief review touches on some of boron’s effects on health—and specifically, women’s health-- including its impact on bone development and regeneration, wound healing, the production and metabolism of sex hormones and vitamin D, and the absorption and use of calcium and magnesium. Boron also has anti-inflammatory effects that can help alleviate arthritis.
Who knew? Let's get into it.
Bone Health & Maintenance
Since bone maintenance is better known when it comes to boron, let’s go there first.
Reduced urinary excretion of calcium when magnesium levels are adequate
Increased levels of 17β-estradiol [E2] in peri- and post-menopausal women (It reduces the breakdown of estradiol rather than increasing the formation of it.)
Positively impacts vitamin D utilization
Induces mineralization of osteoblasts by regulating the expression of genes related to tissue mineralization and those actions of key hormones (17β-estradiol [E2], testosterone, and vitamin D)
Boron has been shown to increase serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3 ) in animal studies and also in vitamin D–deficient individuals in human studies—thought to do this by increasing the biological half-life and bioavailability of E2 and vitamin D
Boron is important to help improve magnesium absorption. It's been demonstrated that 318mg/day of magnesium is adequate, while <118mg/day is inadequate. The average American diet is estimated to include 200-350mg/day, of which 30-50% is actually absorbed.
Magnesium is required in osteoblasts and osteoclasts and in all living cells, within which magnesium is fundamental for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and serves as a cofactor of more than 300 enzymes involved in lipid, protein, and nucleic acid synthesis. So magnesium is also important for your energy levels and metabolism. Hypomoagnesia will also lead to decreased vitamin D levels, and is pro-inflammatory, leading to increases in Substance P, TNF-a, IL-6 and IL-1.
The actions on tissue mineralization also underlie boron’s benefit to wound healing. Which I think is phenomenal to consider when it comes to post-surgical healing and healing from injuries or even giving birth.
Due to direct actions on specific enzymes found in fibroblast such as elastase, trypsin-like enzymes, collagenase, and alkaline phosphatase. Fibroblasts synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen and play a critical role in wound healing. Boron facilitates the improving extracellular-matrix turnover.
Boron regulates the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in a wide array of extracellular matrix cells such as collagen Type I (found in ligaments) and osteocalcin (protein important in bone mineralization). So it’s working under the radar to help support proteins and growth factors important in bone maintenance.
Boron increases levels of serum E2 and testosterone in post menopausal women, especially if magnesium levels are low
Use of boron found to increase bound testosterone to free testosterone. About 98% of testosterone molecules are bound to proteins in the blood, principally to sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG), and are not bioavailable. I think of this being important for women coming off birth control pills which is known for binding up your testosterone and could lead to decreased libido. Read more about this in terms of IUD use here: Read More
Reduced inflammatory markers with boron supplementation
o C-reactive protein (CRP)
o Interleukin 6 (IL-6)
o Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a)
Increased amounts of boron are correlated with reduced rates of osteoarthritis (OA)
Reduced joint rigidity, reduced use of NSAIDS, and improved mobility in those with OA, with 4-8 weeks of boron supplementation
So, how much boron should I take in?
There are no set human requirements at this time. There is an acceptable tolerable upper limit (UL) for boron, which is ~20mg/day for an adult 18 and over. Benefits of bone maintenance, sex steroids and vitamin D are not seen under 3mg/day. Most research level benefits have been seen at levels of 3mg and above (7-10mg). So at least 3mg/day is recommended to obtain the benefits described here. And, by the way, it takes about 4 weeks for the changes to take effect, so be patient.
Food Sources of Boron
If you eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds, you are likely taking in 1.5mg-3mg/day. If not, you may need to supplement. Ideally, food first, then supplement as needed. Avocados, beans and prunes have some of the highest boron content. And even wine! But use that one minimally, as alcohol can also be inflammatory and reduces bone building potential.
Downloadable list of Food Sources of Boron
So, how will you integrate this information into your life to build resilience, vitality and strength? Contact Tianna if you have any questions about this information and how it can be used to support your well being.
1. Pizzorno,, L. (2015). Nothing Boring About Boron. Integrative Medicine, 14(4), 35-48. Retrieved March 5, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712861/
2. Nielsen, F. H. (1994). Biochemical and Physiologic Consequences of Boron Deprivation in Humans. Environmental Health Perspectives,102(Suppl 7), 59-63. doi:10.2307/3431964