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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Boron

What is boron? Why do we need it?

Boron is a soft, brown element found in small amounts in the human body. Although it is found in many foods, boron is better known for its industrial uses; it is a major component of most nuclear reactor systems, metallic alloys and abrasives.

Little research has been conducted on the effects of boron and the human body. What research has been conducted suggests that boron appears to affect the way the body metabolizes various other minerals, including calcium, magnesium, copper and phosphorous. Some studies suggest that boron supplements can reduce the amount of calcium in a person's urine, which has led some researchers to the belief that boron supplementation can lower the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis, and therefore improve the health of a person's bones and joints. Future research needs to be conducted before these claims can be proven, however.

How much boron should I take?

Because boron is not considered an essential element, there are no specific recommended daily allowances for it. However, some researchers have suggested that people take one milligram of boron supplements per day. In addition, because boron is prevalent in many fruits and vegetables, most people consume an average of two to six milligrams of boron per day.

What forms of boron are available?

Boron is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including raisins and prunes. Nuts and legumes are also good sources of boron. Typically, a food's boron level depends on the amount of boron in the soil in which the food is grown. Boron supplements are also available at some health food stores.

What can happen if I take too much boron? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Preliminary research suggests that accidental exposure to high levels of boron can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and other disorders. Chronic exposure to boron can cause similar symptoms. Women who have been diagnosed with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats should not take boron supplements, as some studies suggest that high boron intake may increase the severity of these conditions. In addition, some reports have found that daily intake of boron can increase estrogen levels in women, an issue of concern in that it could theoretically increase the risk of several types of cancer. Also, because boron appears to affect the body's use of calcium, magnesium and other minerals, persons taking these substances in supplement form should consult with a licensed health care provider. As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions with boron. As always, make sure to speak with a licensed health care practitioner before taking boron or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Hunt CD, Herbel JL, Nielsen FH. Metabolic responses of postmenopausal women to supplemental dietary boron and aluminum during usual and low magnesium intake: boron, calcium, and magnesium absorption and retention and blood mineral concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:803-13.
  • Kelly GS. Boron: a review of its nutritional interactions and therapeutic uses. Altern Med Rev 1997;2:48-56.
  • Nielsen FH. Facts and fallacies about boron. Nutr Today, May/June 1992; pp. 6-12.
  • Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, et al. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1987;1:394-7.
  • Nielsen FH, Penland JG. Boron supplementation of peri-menopausal women affects boron metabolism and indices associated with macromineral metabolism, hormonal status and immune function. J Trace Elem Exp Med 1999;12:251-261.

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