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6 of the wide-ranging benefits of boron

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Boron is a trace mineral that’s commonly found in fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables. Though often overlooked in nutrition, it plays a key role in a wide range of functions in your body.

Boron is at the core of many key enzymes for strengthening bone, synthesizing hormones, and supporting cognitive function, and research shows that it has potential applications in all of these areas.

Benefits

1. Boron contributes to everything from hormone levels to brain function

There’s evidence that boron can boost your testosterone levels, improve your cognitive function, decrease inflammation in your body, and strengthen your skeleton by increasing your bone density.

These benefits make boron particularly attractive to older adults, who often suffer from a range of cognitive, inflammatory, and skeletal problems.

2. Boron can boost your testosterone levels

A scientific study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology investigated the effects of a boron supplementation routine on blood levels of hormones and inflammatory markers (1).

The experiment involved a seven-day period of boron supplementation, during which the participants took 10 mg of boron every morning. At the study’s conclusion, the researchers re-tested levels of the blood biomarkers measured at the study’s outset.

They found that the boron supplementation routine resulted in a significant increase in testosterone and a significant decrease in estrogen. While testosterone is affected by a wide range of nutrients, this study demonstrates that boron should not be neglected from that list.

3. Boron can reduce inflammation in your body

The same study also found a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines, compounds that are linked to higher levels of inflammation in your body.

Additional evidence for this comes from a review study by Curtiss D. Hunt and Joseph P. Idso at the United States Department of Agriculture (2). The review cites evidence that boron plays a role in regulating the normal inflammatory process in your body.

If your boron levels are disrupted, the consequence could be abnormal inflammation. More direct evidence supports the idea that boron could be used to actively reduce inflammation in your body.

Another study published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research tested whether a boron supplement improved symptoms in people with osteoarthritis, a classic inflammatory disease (3).

After 15 days, the researchers found that the patients receiving the boron supplement fared better and had fewer signs of inflammation than those who did not.

4. Boron can help support cognitive function

Research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives used a direct nutritional intervention to study the effects of boron intake on cognitive functioning (4).

The researcher behind the study compared two diets designed to be very low and very high in boron content across a series of three different studies.

When subjects were on the low boron diet, they showed worse cognitive performance on a number of fronts: manual dexterity, attention, perception, and hand-eye coordination.

Even raw measures of brain power, like reaction time, were adversely affected by low boron intake. The same researcher also authored a review on a few additional studies which testified to the importance of boron to brain function (5).

When boron levels drop below a critical threshold, cognitive abilities are impaired across a wide range of tasks. Most interestingly, the subjects in these studies had borderline low boron levels when they came in, indicating that boron deficiency is quite common among the general population.

5. Boron plays an important role in bone strength

Boron appears to interact with various hormones, plus calcium levels in your body, to help strengthen your bones.

According to a review paper in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, studies in both humans and animals demonstrate that a normal boron intake level supports bone growth, and a lack of adequate boron has deleterious effects on bone strength (6).

Another scientific article by nutrition researchers at the University of California Berkeley suggests that boron helps mediate the interactions between calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which are all essential for building bone density and interact in a complicated interplay (7).

If boron levels are insufficient, this system does not work as well as it should, and bone health suffers.  While boron is not the only component for building strong and healthy bones, the research indicates that it is a critical one, and should not be neglected.

6. Increasing boron intake could help with weight loss and heart health

Boron is found in trace amounts in foods like avocados, dried apples and bananas, and almonds and other nuts, and new research shows that increasing your dietary intake of these boron-containing foods might help improve your health.

A paper published in 2019 in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology studies the effects of a high-boron diet in 13 women over the course of one month (8).

The researchers had the women increase their dietary intake of foods rich in boron, and observed what happened to various markers of health. The researchers found that, after the diet, the women had lower cholesterol levels and a lower body mass index.

At the same time, they found that boron levels in the saliva, urine, and blood had increased markedly.

The researchers suggested that these results provide evidence that boron could play a role in decreasing body mass and improving your risk profile for cardiovascular disease.

While these are interesting results, it’s important to point out that the sample size in this study is quite small, and more importantly, there was no control group.

Boron side effects

So far, no clinical studies have reported any adverse effects or side effects related to boron. The United States Institute on Medicine Panel on Micronutrients found no evidence for any adverse effects related to high boron intake, even at levels far beyond what’s used in scientific research on boron supplementation (9).

Even so, the research on boron is fairly new, so it’s best to stick to the established dose ranges. There is no evidence you’ll face any risks for going beyond these, but there is also no evidence for any benefits either.

Boron dosage

Most studies use doses of 1.5 to 6 mg of boron per day. The most comprehensive research on boron supplementation has examined dosages ranging from 1.5 to 6 mg per day.

Your diet may naturally provide one or two mg of boron per day already—in the only studies on direct boron intake, that was the level of dietary boron prior to any dietary interventions.

So, you’ll likely get the best results at between 2 and 3 mg of supplemental boron per day. Doses beyond that aren’t necessary for most people.

Higher doses of up to 12 mg per day might be better for men looking to boost testosterone and inhibit estrogen. One very small study used a dose of 11.6 mg of boron per day to increase testosterone and decrease estrogen, so these higher doses (of up to 12 mg per day) are popular with men specifically looking to increase testosterone and decrease their estrogen levels. Other applications, though, call for a lower dose.

Boron benefits FAQ

Q: Is boron harmful to humans? 

A: Most people get very little boron in their typical diet: the average person gets between 1.0 and 1.3 mg per day.

Supplements can add to this, but even a high supplemental dose is far below any toxic levels that have been identified in environmental health research. At very high doses, boron can be toxic to developing fetuses, according to one government report that reviewed a number of animal studies (10).

To be safe, it might be better to avoid taking boron during pregnancy, but in otherwise healthy people, even large doses of ingested boron are not particularly dangerous at least in the short term.

Unfortunately, since boron supplementation is such a new trend, we don’t know much about the long term effects of supplemental doses. 

Q: Should you take boron before bed? 

A: There’s not enough research on boron to definitively determine when the best time of day is to take it. Even as of 2018, pharmaceutical research is still exploring the absorption and excretion of different forms of boron supplementation (11).

For now, all we can say is that supplementation of boron once per day is what’s been used in scientific research: we don’t know whether it’s best to take it in the morning or before bed. 

Q: What foods have boron in them? 

A: Boron rich foods include nuts, seeds, avocado, and various kinds of fruit, like apples, bananas, and pears.

To facilitate the delivery of larger doses of boron, research often uses dried fruit to increase the amount of boron you can consume at once, though you need to be careful not to load up on too much sugar with dried fruit.

Often, lower quality dried fruit products use a lot of sugar alongside the fruit; adding all of that to your diet is not going to be good for your health. 

Q: Is boron useful for weight loss?

A: No studies have looked at boron’s benefits for weight loss directly, although one study did find that increasing intake of boron-rich foods led to weight loss (12).

However, boron, as a potential testosterone booster, could have an indirect effect through testosterone’s fat-burning and muscle-building mechanisms.

Lower testosterone levels are known to be related to higher body fat content and lower muscle mass: if boron were to reverse these trends, it could help contribute to weight loss. However, it’s not a thermogenic or appetite-suppressing supplement in its own right.

Related: Our top boron picks

Summary

Boron is a simple supplement ingredient with a surprising range of applications. It contributes to testosterone and estrogen balance, bone formation and strength, and cognitive function.

It’s best-suited for people looking for a trace mineral to support higher testosterone, stronger bones, and better cognitive function as they get older.



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