Boron: The Brilliant Chemical Element that Promotes Lives

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

The trace element boron may be found in many foods naturally and as a dietary supplement. It is necessary for plant development, fertilization, and seed generation and is a structural element of plant cell walls.

Because research has yet to show a definite biological purpose for boron, it is not considered an essential human nutrient. But on the other hand, it could benefit processes including immunity, steroid hormone synthesis, calcium metabolism, bone growth, brain function, and insulin and energy substrate metabolism (including vitamin D and estrogen).

Inorganic borates and mono- or di-sugar-borate esters, such as calcium fructoborate, are two forms of boron found in foods and drinks. Most of the amount consumed is hydrolyzed to boric acid in the digestive system.

As a result, the body absorbs ingested boron between 85% and 90%. However, more needs to be understood about how or where in the digestive system absorption takes place.

Most bodily tissues do not acquire boron, although bone, nails, and hair do; fat contains lower quantities of boron than other body tissues. Boric acid is found in blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. The body maintains boron homeostasis, most likely through increasing urine excretion, according to the lack of significant changes in blood boron levels in response to substantial increases in food intakes. However boron homeostasis regulation mechanisms are still unidentified. Little quantities of boron are also expelled in the stools, sweat, breath, bile, and urine.


Sources of Boron


Foods that are made from plants, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes, have the greatest boron amounts. Also containing boron are wine, cider, and beer.

Coffee, milk, apples, dry and cooked beans, and potatoes are the primary sources of boron in people’s diets in the United States, mainly because individuals tend to eat a lot of these items. For example, 38% of toddlers’ boron consumption comes from fruits and fruit juices, while 19% comes from dairy products. For adults, drinks, particularly instant coffee, are the primary dietary source of boron, whereas, for teenagers, milk and cheese products provide around 18% of boron intake.

The amount of boron in plant meals is influenced by the water and soil conditions in which they were cultivated. For example, Brazil, Japan, and the majority of the United States are among the world’s regions with little boron in the soil, primarily due to heavy rainfall, which releases boron out of the ground. Contrarily, boron concentrations are more significant in dry regions of the world, such as California and portions of Turkey, Argentina, Chile, Russia, China, and Peru.

Water contains boron; however, the amount varies greatly depending on the source. In the United States, drinking water has a median boron content of 0.031 mg/L.

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Dairy products on the table

Dietary Supplements

 Both dietary supplements with only boron and supplements with boron combined with a few additional nutrients, frequently other minerals, are available. Dietary supplements often show between 0.15 to 6 mg of elemental boron.

Although sodium tetraborate, a type of boron, dramatically raised plasma boron levels in a small human trial after 4-6 hours of consumption, there are no data on the relative bioavailability of other forms of supplemental boron.

The quantity of boron in a dietary supplement product is listed on the Supplement Facts label, not the weight of the total boron-containing product.

Boron Deficiency

The indications and symptoms of boron deficiency in humans have not been well known. However, limited research shows that a lack of boron may alter brain function by lowering mental attentiveness and affecting executive function. Moreover, postmenopausal women may experience increased urinary calcium and magnesium excretion and decreased serum oestrogen concentrations while eating a low-boron diet (0.25 mg boron/2,000 kcal). In addition, men and women appear to have higher blood levels of calcitonin and osteocalcin with low boron intakes (0.23 mg boron/2,000 kcal); these alterations may have an impact on bone mineral density.

Boron and Health

This section focuses on osteoarthritis, bone health, and cancer as three potential health conditions in which boron may have a role.


 Boron may be useful for reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, possibly through lowering inflammation, according to observational evidence and results from a few modest clinical investigations in humans.

In a short clinical study, 20 persons under 75 who took supplements containing 6 mg of boron daily for eight weeks had fewer osteoarthritis symptoms than those who took a placebo. In a second 8-week study, 20 patients with mild, moderate, or severe osteoarthritis were divided into two groups: those with mild to moderate disease received 6 mg/day of boron as calcium fructoborate. In contrast, those with severe disease received 12 mg/day of boron. Both groups experienced decreased joint rigidity and reduced paracetamol use while also experiencing increased mobility and flexibility. Although unfortunately, this research was neither blinded nor placebo-controlled, it was also somewhat small.

A following double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 60 osteoarthritis patients aged 59 to 68. It looked at the effects of 1.5, 3, or 6 mg/day of boron (as calcium fructoborate) on markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. Inflammatory indicators were dramatically decreased by supplementation. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical experiment found that supplementing 60 people (mean age 50 years) with 6 mg/day of boron (as calcium fructoborate) for two weeks significantly decreased knee soreness.

These results imply that boron, particularly in calcium fructoborate, may ease osteoarthritis symptoms, although further controlled studies are required to validate this.

Bone Health

 Through modifying osteoblast and/or osteoclast activity, serum steroid hormone levels, calcium metabolism, and/or osteoblast and/or osteoclast activity, boron may be significant for bone development and production, according to research on animals, boron deficiency results in abnormal limb development, delayed growth plate maturation, reduced bone strength, the volume fraction of the bone, and trabecular thickness.

Studies comparing animals getting boron supplements to those consuming normal or low mineral levels reveal that the supplements increase various markers of bone strength. Nevertheless, boron intakes (mean of 0.9 mg/day) were not significantly linked with bone mineral density in the lower back spine or femoral regions in an observational study of 134 Korean women (average age 41 years).

In a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 17 female athletes and 11 physically active women, 3 mg/day of boron supplementation over ten months significantly decreased serum phosphorus levels in the physically active women and increased serum magnesium levels; these changes are frequently linked to higher bone mineral density.

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Close-up doctor and kid with skeleton


 According to preliminary research, diet-related boron consumption may impact cancer risk. Several observational studies have discovered an adverse relationship between boron consumption and the incidence of lung and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

In addition, prostate size and PSA levels were examined as risk factors for prostate cancer in observational research conducted in Turkey. Males who take boron approximately 6 mg/day had prostate cells that were much smaller than those who consumed less boron.

Nevertheless, the two groups had no noticeable difference in PSA levels.

Therefore, further investigation is required to determine whether boron affects cancer.

Environmental Effects of Boron

Because of the release of boron into the air, soil, and water during weathering, boron exists naturally in the environment. It could also be found in trace concentrations in groundwater. With the production of glass, the burning of coal, the melting of copper, and the use of agricultural fertilizers, humans contribute boron to the environment. However, human-added boron concentrations are lower than those that occur naturally due to weathering.

It is possible to be exposed to borate through the water and air. In addition, consumer goods like laundry detergent and cosmetics might expose you to boron.

Plants take up boron from the soil, and through animals that eat plants, it can penetrate food chains. Animal tissue has been observed to contain boron; however, accumulation is unlikely.

Male reproductive organs will be impacted when animals consume significant levels of boron over a long time through food or drinking water. When pregnant animals are exposed to boron, their offspring may have birth abnormalities or developmental delays. Moreover, animals who breathe in boron are prone to nasal discomfort.

Special Precautions and Warnings

  • When used orally, boron is safe in levels up to 20 mg daily. When used at more significant levels, boron may be dangerous. Male reproductive issues might result from doses greater than 20 mg per day. Poisoning can also result from high dosages. Irritability, tremors, weakness, headaches, diarrhoea, vomiting, and other symptoms are indications of poisoning.
  • When used orally, the boron-containing gel sodium pentaborate pentahydrate is secure for up to five weeks.
  • Boric acid, a popular type of boron, is probably safe when used for up to 6 months when administered to the vagina. Burning in the vagina may result.
  • When used orally during pregnancy or breastfeeding, boron is probably safe. Do not exceed 20 mg per day for individuals aged 19 to 50; do not exceed 17 mg for those aged 14 to 18. Higher oral boron dosages have been associated with lower birth weights and abnormalities, making them potentially dangerous. Birth abnormalities have also been connected to injecting boric acid into the vagina during the first four months of pregnancy.
  • When handled properly, boron is harmless. The appropriate dosage depends on the child’s age. If consumed orally at more significant levels, boron may be dangerous. Poisoning from boron at large doses is possible. When used excessively to prevent diaper rash, the usual type of boron, boric acid powder, may be dangerous.
  • Boron can have estrogen-like effects on hormone-sensitive diseases.
  • Avoid supplementary or high boron food intake if you have a disease that might be exacerbated by oestrogen.
  • If you have kidney issues, avoid using boron supplements. To remove boron, the kidneys must exert a lot of effort.

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