Top Health Benefits of Boron
If it’s strong enough to stop a bullet, imagine what boron can do for your bones!
That’s right! Boron is part of one of the strongest compounds on earth, which is used to make tank armor and bulletproof vests.
It’s even used in vehicles, jet fighters, and military-style helicopters to add structural strength and stability.
And in your bones, boron’s strength makes it an essential teammate to bone-health superstars calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. It even helps your body form new bone. So if you’re not getting enough boron, your bones may pay the price…
Read on for five researched-backed ways boron supports strong, healthy bones — and why it belongs in your bone-building toolbox!
You’ll also discover additional boron health benefits (especially important if you suffer from kidney stones, osteoarthritis, or insulin-related distress!). Plus, find out how much boron you need and where to get it. (Hint: It’s easier than you think!)
How Boron Benefits Your Bones
1. Helps Maintain Calcium and Magnesium Levels
One of the most interesting things about your body is how different nutrients work together to help each other out. You could almost say they need each other to perform at their best. Boron, calcium, and magnesium (and many others, as we’ll see below) share this kind of special relationship, working together to help your body build and preserve bones.
And boron? Boron helps your body retain more calcium and magnesium by reducing the amount of each that’s lost through urine.
To see this interplay in action, we can look to research. In a two-part study, researchers gave 12 postmenopausal women a diet providing 0.25 mg of boron for 119 days. Then they supplemented with 3 mg of boron during two 28-day trials. Here, seven of the women were fed a diet low in magnesium (116 mg a day), and the other five supplemented with 200 mg of magnesium a day.
And here’s what’s interesting: With boron supplementation, the women’s overall daily calcium through urine was reduced by 44%! What’s more, the loss in calcium from boron supplementation was 52 mg a day for the women low in magnesium, and only 22 mg a day for the women supplementing with magnesium. The women also retained more magnesium (less was lost through urine, just like the calcium).
Although the study sample size was small, and additional clinical research is needed, the results are impressive and support boron’s role in preserving calcium and magnesium in the body. The women’s calcium loss was affected by how much magnesium and boron they had. And boron supplementation also prevented them from losing as much magnesium!
You can see the powerful relationship between these nutrients — and why keeping balanced levels of each is vital to your bone health. But there’s something else your body needs just as much, and boron helps you preserve more of that, too…
2. Extends Vitamin D Availability
Another essential member of the boron-calcium-magnesium social circle is vitamin D — specifically vitamin D3. And here’s why: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Magnesium is the cofactor (or helper) for the enzyme that converts vitamin D into an active form your body can use.
And boron lengthens the amount of time that vitamin D remains available in your body, allowing you to absorb more calcium.
It does this by extending the half-life of vitamin D. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for the vitamin D (or any nutrient, for that matter) to break down to half of its original amount.
Specifically, boron inhibits the activity of an enzyme called 24-hydroxylase. That’s important because 24-hydroxylase causes urinary loss of vitamin D (and also estrogen and testosterone, which we’ll get to later…). Boron also increases levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 –– the form of vitamin D that circulates throughout your body.
If that sounds a bit complicated, think of it this way: By inhibiting 24-hydroxylase and increasing the amount of time that 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 remains in your body, boron helps extend your vitamin D availability.
Take a look at this study involving 13 middle-aged people in Serbia with low levels of vitamin D. Each person supplemented with 6 mg of boron for 60 days during the winter months. Sunlight exposure was at its lowest, so researchers thought vitamin D levels could drop even more.
But instead, a 20% increase in vitamin D levels occurred during the trial. In fact, boron raised the half-life and bioavailability of vitamin D! That means more time for vitamin D to remain available to help your body absorb more calcium.
Of course, the number of people in the study was limited, so more research is needed. Yet the outcome supports boron’s friendly relationship with vitamin D, and once again shows why maintaining balanced levels of bone-building nutrients is critical to overall bone health.
Your skeleton has a whopping 213 bones. And each one is constantly rebuilding itself. In a never-ending cycle, old bone is broken down and removed, and new bone is formed — it’s all part of an elaborate process called osteogenesis, or bone remodeling.
When the formation of new bones doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone, your bones can become weak and brittle.
But before we get into details, let’s meet the key players of osteogenesis, osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
→ Osteoblasts are cells that build bone. They fill in small holes or cavities in bone by forming flat, closely packed layers on the bone’s surface.
→ Osteoclasts are cells that remove old, brittle bone. They attach themselves to the surface of bone and break it down, a process called bone resorption.
Bone metabolism is regulated by a balance between bone breakdown caused by osteoclasts and bone formation caused by osteoblasts. Once osteoclasts complete their work of bone resorption (for example, clearing away a microcrack in a bone), osteoblasts refill the cavity and make your skeleton strong.
Osteoblasts use a mixture of calcium, collagen, and proteins to make new bone. Think of it as scaffolding for your bones.
That’s where boron comes in… It stimulates the activity of a wide range of proteins, including the mineralized, tissue-associated proteins that osteoblasts produce as part of the bone mineralization (the bone-forming) process. This is backed by studies with osteoblast cells showing that boron supports bone mineralization via its interaction with these proteins — contributing to bone metabolism and regeneration at the cellular level.
What does all this mean for you and your 213 bones? Boron strengthens osteoblast (bone-building) activity and the mineralization of bone cells — two bone-healthy benefits you definitely want on your side.
Of course, additional human studies will help us better understand the exact mechanisms involved… but these findings support boron’s critical role as a pathway to healthy bone formation.
Fun Fact: Surgeons have reported that the bones of patients who supplement with boron are harder to cut through than the bones of patients who don’t.
4. Enhances Bone-Building Hormones
Estrogen’s effect on the bone remodeling process can’t be underestimated. Here’s why…
For starters, estrogen increases the lifespan of osteoblasts (the bone-building cells) while inhibiting osteoclast activity (the cells that break down bone), so bone formation can keep pace with bone resorption. But when your body has less estrogen, bone resorption (bone breakdown) may outstrip bone formation (bone-building) — and this imbalance can contribute to bone loss.
Estrogen also helps increase magnesium absorption and its ability to be deposited in bone. And it works with calcium to keep bones strong. In fact, research shows that estrogen can help improve calcium levels in postmenopausal women with bone loss. On the other hand, low estrogen levels can negatively impact the amount of calcium in your body.
What’s more, estrogen blocks interleukin-6. Interleukin 6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that stimulates bone breakdown by activating osteoclasts. Cytokines are small proteins released by cells that signal the immune system to trigger a response. Low estrogen increases the risk of inflammatory interleukin-6 activity.
All of this helps explain why you may experience decreased bone density with an estrogen deficiency. In fact, postmenopausal women have an increased susceptibility to bone loss because of the dramatic decline in estrogen that accompanies menopause.
But even though your ovaries stop producing estrogen during menopause, estrogen is still being produced locally in many other areas of your body — including bones. That’s why extending the half-life of this estrogen is even more crucial after you reach menopause.
Thankfully, boron and estrogen are good friends. Boron extends the availability of estrogen in your body by inhibiting 24-hydroxylase. You see, 24-hydroxylase causes urinary loss of estrogen (and, as we know, vitamin D). By reducing the level of 24-hydroxylase, boron allows more estrogen to flow through your body, providing the essential bone support you need.
A small study on nine postmenopausal women studying the relationship between boron and estrogen appears to support boron’s effect on estrogen levels.
Women were given a typical Western diet that supplied 0.25 mg of boron for 63 days; then, the boron was increased to 3 mg a day for 49 days. Increases in estradiol (the major estrogen sex hormone) were significantly higher when the women consumed the larger boron supplement.
Granted, this is a very small study, yet it supports research demonstrating boron’s positive influence on estrogen. And while healthy estrogen levels are crucial to bone health, it’s not the only hormone that makes a difference…
Testosterone is essential for men’s bone health. In fact, for older men, testosterone deficiency has the same negative effect on bone health that low estrogen has on women.
A U.S. cohort of the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study examined 2,447 men over age 73 and found that older men with low testosterone were more likely to experience hip osteoporosis and rapid bone loss. But what’s just as interesting is that the study also confirmed that men need small levels of estrogen to preserve bone density and reduce the risk of bone loss…
- Hip osteoporosis was found in 12.3% of men with low testosterone (less than 200 ng/dl) — and in 6.0% of men with normal levels (>400 ng/dl). Likewise, hip osteoporosis was found in 15.4% of men with low estradiol (less than 10 pg/ml) vs. 2.8% for those with normal levels ([>20 pg/ml).
- At the same time, rapid hip bone loss in men with low testosterone levels was 22.5% vs. 8.6% for normal levels. Rapid hip bone loss in men with low estradiol was 14.3% vs. 6.3% for normal levels.
Men convert a small amount of testosterone into estrogen — through a chemical reaction by a specialized enzyme called the aromatase enzyme. This is essential for the maintenance of bone mass, yet if testosterone levels are low, less of it can be converted.
But what makes testosterone so helpful for men’s bone health? For starters, research shows that it stimulates osteoblast activity (bone formation), just like estrogen does. What’s more, in vitro tests reveal that testosterone’s interaction with osteoclasts reduces bone resorption (bone breakdown).
In vitro tests are performed in a laboratory under carefully controlled settings, and they don’t involve live animals or humans. They can’t be used as a substitute for human behavior, and we can’t draw definitive conclusions from them. But they do offer important clues and warrant additional clinical investigation.
Testosterone also supports healthy muscle mass. Yet as men experience andropause (a gradual decrease in testosterone that typically occurs when they get older), their ability to maintain muscle mass also decreases. This can lead to a condition called sarcopenia ––age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. And sarcopenia causes bone loss.
Fortunately, testosterone has boron on its side. Because just like estrogen and vitamin D, testosterone is susceptible to the powers of 24-hydroxylase. That is, 24-hydroxylase causes urinary loss of testosterone, too. Boron reduces the level of 24-hydroxylase, lessening the amount of testosterone lost through urine and keeping more of it available for use.
Ready for some real-world perspective? Let’s take a look at the research…
Testosterone levels more than doubled in eight healthy males on low-boron diets who started supplementing with 10 mg of boron a day. Keep in mind that nothing else in their daily habits changed except for the addition of boron to their diets. The same study showed a higher conversion rate of total testosterone to free testosterone.
That’s important because free testosterone is the form of testosterone that the body can use. It’s called “free” because it’s not bound to the SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) protein, which renders it inactive. Instead, it’s the form of testosterone that receptors can freely connect to within the body’s cells. When a cell absorbs free testosterone, it’s free to function however it chooses — like as a cell in bone remodeling, for example.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Your body gets inflammation when its defense system releases white blood cells to ward off what it suspects is an intruder. If you have inflammation (and most people do), you may suffer from muscle stiffness, severe headaches, joint pain, swelling and redness, and even loss of joint function.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation is tightly linked to poor bone health. That’s because inflammation stimulates osteoclasts to work overtime, breaking down your bones. And that means the osteoblasts can’t come in and do their job — building new bone. The result? More bone is broken down than is being formed.
Boron helps reduce inflammation — even harmful (and painful!) osteoarthritis, which is inflammation of the joints. It does this by turning itself into a signal suppressor that stops the activities of certain enzymes involved in the inflammatory process, curbing the inflammation.
Researchers have discovered that in areas where boron intake is 1 mg or less per day, the rate of arthritis is between 20% and 70%! But in areas where boron intake is usually 3–10 mg per day, the rate is much lower, ranging from zero to only 10%.
Of course, this is observational and controlled clinical studies are needed to fully understand the connection between boron and arthritis. But these studies have merit, and human studies have led to similar findings…
A two-week, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study evaluated 60 older adults with osteoarthritis. They were separated into groups taking either a 1.5 mg, 3 mg, or 6 mg daily dose of boron, or a placebo (a fake drug that looks like a real one). The groups taking 3 mg and 6 mg of boron showed the most benefit, with researchers concluding that boron supplementation in patients with osteoarthritis symptoms has a favorable effect.
Boron’s power in controlling inflammation is well known in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. There, boron is often prescribed as a remedy for osteoarthritis — many people supplementing with boron have reduced, and even eliminated, their osteoarthritis symptoms altogether.
Other Health Benefits of Boron
Helps with Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are crystallized deposits that can form in your kidneys. If you’ve ever had them, you know how painful they can be to pass, and sometimes even require surgery to remove.
Recent research shows that boron can be beneficial to kidney health. In fact, it suggests that boron can relieve the pain associated with passing kidney stones, and in many cases, can actually dissolve the stone.
In a study looking at boron’s effect on kidney stones, 10 mg a day of boron increased the rate of kidney stone excretion in a trial of 14 people with kidney stones. Those taking the boron supplement felt less pain when their stone(s) passed — often in a matter of hours to 2–3 days. And for some, the stones actually dissolved.
Encouraged by the results, the researchers have increased the number of successfully treated patients to 30. The findings are certainly encouraging as they continue to probe into the connection between boron and kidney stones.
Promising Cancer Research
Cancer is a complex disease, and researchers are making new discoveries every day.
And it’s important to keep in mind that while there may be a correlation between boron intake and cancer reduction, it doesn’t mean that one is a direct cause of the other. Genetics, diet, and lifestyle factors all play big roles in cancer. We can’t draw any conclusions just yet, but some evidence looks hopeful and is worth further investigation…
In a 10-year study examining the relationship between boron, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and lung cancer in women, 763 women with lung cancer and 838 healthy women were studied for nine months. Women were divided into groups and given diets ranging from low-boron to high-boron intakes.
Women who consumed higher boron levels, with or without HRT, fared better than those on low-boron diets. And women who consumed low boron diets and did not use HRT had the most risk of developing lung cancer.
As we mentioned earlier, boron plays a role in elevating estrogen levels. Here, researchers believe the boron may mimic HRT since we’ve seen earlier that boron supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women can elevate estrogen levels.
Researchers are also finding that high-boron diets and regions where soil and water are rich in boron, may also link to lower risks of prostate, breast, and cervical cancers. While it’s too early to make any predictions or conclusions until more large-scale clinical research is available, here’s something interesting to chew on in the meantime…
A study on cervical cancer rates involving 1,059 women in Turkey revealed a possible association between boron and cervical cancer. In the study, 472 women lived in boron-poor areas (about 1.26 mg of boron a day), while 587 lived in boron-rich areas (8.41 mg of boron a day). Cervical smears revealed that women from the boron-rich regions had no indications of cervical cancer, while there were findings for 15 women from the boron-poor areas.
Again, this is preliminary, and research involving cancer and boron is still in its early stage. Yet as science continues to unravel the mysteries around cancer and possible treatment options, it’s nice to know that boron is being recognized for its potential benefits.
Helps with Insulin Metabolism
If you have diabetes or are at risk for insulin-related diseases, here’s something to consider: Emerging evidence shows a connection between boron and the way your body processes insulin.
Research has discovered that boron supplementation may be beneficial in treating disorders related to diabetes and obesity. To evaluate boron’s effect on carbohydrate metabolism, lipids, and glucose, investigators pioneered a study involving 42 people divided into three categories: healthy, diabetic, and obese diabetic.
Blood serum samples were taken from all groups, and boron levels were determined. The sample analysis revealed that boron levels were twice as high in the healthy group for both men and women vs. the diabetic and obese diabetic groups.
And boron’s effect on the blood serum concentrations? Researchers concluded that carbohydrate metabolism in diabetic and obese diabetic patients is negatively affected by low boron levels. And that boron can decrease the amount of insulin required to maintain glucose levels. Conversely, a boron deficiency requires more insulin to maintain glucose levels.
While further research is needed, results are hopeful as we look to prevent and control diabetes as we age.
Relieves Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress happens when your body makes too many free radicals and can’t get rid of them fast enough.
Free radicals are compounds that your body produces naturally. But they can cause harm if their levels become too high. If that happens, they can damage your body, causing illness and aging.
Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. Many lifestyle, stress, and environmental factors promote excessive free radical formation, like smoking, air pollution, an unhealthy diet, and alcohol.
Fortunately, your body has a way of keeping free radicals in check… antioxidants!
Antioxidants are found naturally in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants. And your cells have antioxidant “powers” as well. And that’s where boron comes in…
Boron isn’t an antioxidant, but as we know, it does boost your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, by way of its ability to increase estrogen levels. And magnesium helps maintain the antioxidant status of cells.
That is, magnesium acts like an antioxidant to help your body combat free radicals. So by supporting magnesium absorption, boron helps your body fight free radicals and protect against oxidative stress.
How Much Boron Do You Need?
Now that you’ve seen the countless ways boron benefits your bones — and your body! — you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough each day.
A recommended daily allowance for boron hasn’t been established, but researchers generally believe that 3 mg a day is enough to see its beneficial health effects — providing you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet full of fruits and vegetables.
And don’t worry about getting too much. The World Health Organization first suggested that 1–13 mg daily is generally considered safe, and later increased the upper limit to 28 mg daily. Meanwhile, the European Union established a 10 mg daily upper intake. And the United States Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board set a 20 mg a day upper limit.
The Easiest Way to Get Enough Boron
While many foods contain boron, getting your 3 mg of boron each day through diet alone could be challenging. Most fresh fruits, vegetables, and even honey contain between 0.1–0.5 mg boron. Animal-based foods like chicken, milk, and tuna provide just 0.01–0.06 mg, so fruit and plant-based sources are your best bet.
Remember that boron needs calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to work its magic. You could try tracking your diet to see if you’re getting enough of these key elements, which could take a lot of work. Or better yet, you could simply provide everything your bones need in one supplement…
AlgaeCal Plus provides a generous 3 mg of bone-strengthening boron in a daily dose balanced with the right amounts of magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and plant-sourced calcium — along with every other vitamin and mineral you need to support strong, healthy bones.