Boron 101


The trace mineral boron is a micronutrient with diverse and vitally important roles in metabolism that render it necessary for plant, animal, and human health.

You’ll find it in many whole foods, especially beans, nuts, whole grains, avocados, berries, plums, oranges, and grapes. It’s also found in water to some degree.

Key Benefits of Boron:

  • essential for the growth and maintenance of bone;
  • improves wound healing;
  • balanced hormones, namely estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D;
  • promotes healthy muscle mass;
  • help prevent and treat yeast infections;
  • help prevent skin infections;
  • help mitigate diabetes;
  • boosts magnesium absorption;
  • reduces inflammation;
  • raises levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase;
  • protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity;
    improves the brain’s electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory;
  • preventive and therapeutic effects in several cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas; and
    helps ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents.

Key Risks of Boron:

  • While side effects are not very common, they can include nausea, gastric discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin problems, heart palpitations, anxiety, and depression.

  • Potentially “dangerously high” doses of boron are believed to be those above 15-20 grams/day for adults and those above two-three grams/days for infants; five-six grams/day for children (depending on their age), although many studies find minimal or no toxicity at these levels or even higher

  • The National Institute of Health warns consumers that boron supplements can be harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions — like breast or prostate cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids — since it can increase estrogen levels.

  • People with existing cases of kidney disease or liver disease should also use these supplements very carefully and speak with a doctor first since these conditions can alter the way the body gets rid of excess minerals.

What you need to know about Boron:

Boron is a widely occurring element in minerals found in the earth’s crust. It is the 51st most common element found in the earth’s crust. Boron is a trace element that is naturally present in many foods and available as a dietary supplement.

Boron is not classified as an essential nutrient for humans because research has not yet identified a clear biological function for boron. However, it might have beneficial effects on such functions as reproduction and development, calcium metabolism, bone formation, brain function, insulin and energy substrate metabolism, immunity, and the function of steroid hormones (including vitamin D and estrogen).

Consumption of fruits and vegetables contribute largely to boron intake in the human diet. Boron levels reported in drinking water generally range from <1 to 3 mg boron/L.

Boron does not accumulate in most body tissues, but bone, nails, and hair have higher boron levels than other body tissues, whereas fat has lower levels. Boric acid is the main form of boron in blood, urine, and other body fluids. The lack of substantial changes in blood boron levels in response to large increases in dietary intakes suggests that the body maintains boron homeostasis, likely by increasing urinary excretion, but the regulatory mechanisms for boron homeostasis have not been identified. Boron is excreted mainly in the urine, and small amounts are excreted in the feces, sweat, breath, and bile.

The World Health Organization estimates that an “acceptable safe range” of boron intakes for adults is 1–13 mg/day. But upper limits have been suggested at 20mg/day.

Human case reports have shown that boron can be lethal following short-term oral exposure at high doses, although the dose estimation can be quite imprecise and variability in human responses to acute exposure is quite large. The minimal lethal dose of ingested boron (as boric acid) was reported to be 2–3 g in infants, 5–6 g in children, and 15–20 g in adults. However, a review of 784 human poisonings with boric acid (10–88 g) reported no fatalities, with 88% of cases being asymptomatic.

Acute-duration oral exposures of humans to high levels of boron (as boric acid) have resulted in little or no observable toxicity, as was seen in accidental poisonings of 10–88 g, of which 88% of cases were asymptomatic (Litovitz et al. 1988). However, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, hepatic, renal, and central nervous system effects, dermatitis, erythema, and death have been observed in children and adults exposed to ≥84 mg boron/kg (Ishii et al. 1993; Restuccio et al. 1992; Schillinger et al. 1982; Wong et al. 1964).

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