“It has been suggested that boron is to the parathyroids what iodine is to the thyroid gland.”
Boron is a mineral or trace element that is found in food and the environment. It has an atomic weight of 10.81 and symbol B.
Boron is a tough element, very hard, second only to carbon (diamond).
Boron is an essential nutrient for all green plants and is present in all plants and unprocessed foods.
Boron compounds such as borax (sodium tetraborate, Na2B4O7.10H2O) have been known and used by ancient cultures for thousands of years. Borax is a white powder consisting of soft colourless crystals that dissolve easily in water. The name ‘borax’ is derived from the Arabic buraq, meaning white.
Boron is an indispensable element in NIB (Neodymium-Iron-Boron) magnets, invented in the early 1980s, which are used in computers, mobile (cell) phones etc.
Health Effects of Boron
Borax and boric acid have basically the same health effects with good antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral properties, but only mild antibacterial action.
Boron is essential for the integrity and function of cell walls and for the way signals are transmitted across membranes. It is distributed throughout the body with the highest concentration in the parathyroid glands followed by bones and dental enamel. It is essential for healthy bone and joint function, regulating the absorption and metabolism of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus through its influence on the parathyroid glands. It has been suggested that boron is to the parathyroids what iodine is to the thyroid gland.
The parathyroid glands are small endocrine glands in the neck that produce parathyroid hormone. Humans usually have four parathyroid glands which are located on the rear surface of the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands control the amount of calcium in the blood and within the bones. The main function is to maintain the body’s calcium levels within a very narrow range, so that the nervous and muscular systems can function properly. Parathyroid hormone controls calcium and phosphate homeostasis, as well as bone physiology.
Boron deficiency causes the parathyroid glands to become overactive, releasing too much parathyroid hormone which raises the blood levels of calcium by releasing calcium from bones and teeth. This then leads to arthritis, osteoporosis and tooth decay.
Boron also affects the metabolism of steroid hormones, and especially the metabolism of sex hormones. It increases low testosterone levels in men and oestrogen levels in menopausal women. It also has a role in converting vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing calcium uptake and deposition into bone. It is also said to improve thinking skills and muscular coordination.
Dietary Sources of Boron
Boron occurs in various forms in fruits (especially dried), vegetables, legumes and nuts. The actual amount varies, linked to the soil content of boron. The amount of boron is rather low, so that it is relatively easy to develop deficiency of boron. Foods with the highest content of boron (from www.algaecal.com/boron) include:
|Beans (red kidney)||1.40|
Boron and Bone Health
Boron plays an important part in supporting healthy bones since it is involved with calcium and magnesium metabolism and vitamin D.
In a study of postmenopausal women, a boron-deficient diet was consumed for 119 days, followed by 48 days of boron supplementation. On the boron-depleted diet (0.25mg boron/day), the participants demonstrated increased urinary loss of both calcium and magnesium. On the boron-supplemented diet (3mg boron/day) however, they showed less urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium, as well as increased levels of two hormones associated with healthy bone mass.
From this study, adequate boron intake is essential to preserve the body’s stores of bone-building calcium and magnesium.
The researchers also studied the women during periods of both adequate magnesium intake and magnesium deficiency. Boron helped to preserve the essential stores of calcium and magnesium in the body. While the magnesium-depleted diet was associated with an increased loss of calcium in the urine, boron supplementation significantly reduced urinary loss of both calcium and magnesium. The researchers observed that boron deprivation produced changes similar to those seen in osteoporosis, and adequate boron status helped prevent calcium loss and bone demineralisation in postmenopausal women.
(Nielsen, F.H et al. Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB-J) 1987 Nov:1(5):394-7)
Thus boron has important applications in helping women preserve bone mass and in preventing osteoporosis following menopause.
Boron may help to alleviate the detrimental effects of vitamin D deficiency on calcium metabolism. Vitamin D is crucial to bone health because it helps to support calcium absorption.
People in an environment that is boron rich and who consume boron-rich foods have been shown to have less joint disorders. It is suggested that deficiencies of boron could contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
Dosage of Boron
Ideally, boron should be obtained from the foods listed above.
If taken as a supplement, 3mg-6 mg of boron daily is recommended for bone health. A higher dose, up to 9mg per day, is suggested in the management of osteoarthritis. Commercial supplies generally come in 3 mg capsules (eg those from iherb.com).
Boron is often combined with a calcium supplement.
The following is an economical way of obtaining a therapeutic source of boron:
Dissolve a teaspoonful of borax (5-6 grams) in one litre of water. This is your stock solution. A standard dose is one teaspoonful (5ml) of stock solution. This contains 25-30mg of borax and provides about 3mg of boron. Take one dose daily with drink or food.
Up to 10mg of boron daily is considered safe. Toxic effects appear at an intake of about 100mg. My personal regimen contains about 165mg of boron per day with no toxic effects. However I did build up to that slowly over a 6 month period.
*Copyright 2012: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
~Further Reading – Nothing Boring About Boron