What is Boron?
Boron (B) is a trace element and an essential nutrient. Boron deficiency in humans may affect bone metabolism, brain function and plasma levels of steroid hormones.
AdvertisementsBoron deficiency symptoms include loss of bone mass (osteoporosis), decreased brain electrical activity, impaired reproductive function and increased oxidative stress.
Boron is essential for the optimum function of metabolic activities related to bone, mineral and lipid metabolism, energy production and utilization, antioxidant activity and immune function in humans. Several research studies suggest the regulatory role of boron in the metabolism of several other nutrients including calcium, magnesium, copper and nitrogen. Research studies reveal its mediation in production of hormones, especially of steroid hormones and in the promotion of immune function with its antioxidant activities.
Dietary increase in boron increases its concentration in human body tissues, as well as blood plasma. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes fulfill the dietary requirements of this nutrient.
Boron rich foodsSeveral fruits, including apples, grapes, pears, plums, dates and kiwis are rich sources of this nutrient. Among the vegetables, beans, tomato, onions, lentils, leafy vegetables, carrots and chickpeas are rich in this element. Seeds, soybeans and nuts are also good sources. As its requirement has not yet been quantified, there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
Boron deficiency causesIn normal situations boron deficiency does not occur in humans, as most of the dietary sources are rich in this nutrient. People dependent on food produced from soils poor in the element may develop symptoms of low levels in the plasma. The deficiency symptoms may develop in humans in the certain situations. Some of causative situations are:
- acute dietary insufficiency,
- acute severe malnutrition,
- persistent vomiting,
- severe diarrhoea,
- disturbed calcium-magnesium balance,
- eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia),
- malabsorption disorders and
- renal disease.
Boron deficiency symptoms in humansThe symptoms and consequences of low levels of boron in humans are still being researched. The deficiency symptoms of this element can manifest as abnormal metabolism of calcium and magnesium. Hyperthyroidism is another possible symptom of insufficiency of this nutrient in humans. The imbalances in the steroid hormones like testosterone or estrogen may be a symptom of low serum levels of this nutrient.
The loss calcium and/or magnesium from the bones, osteoporosis and arthritis are well documented symptoms of low serum levels of this nutrient in animals and human beings. The decline in function of the brain and the psychological consequences are well known symptoms of boron insufficiency in humans.
Boron and bonesBoron is found to regulate the utilization of calcium by the bones in humans. Working in unison with calcium, it strengthen the bones by increasing the osteoblast activity. It also increases the production of bone strengthening hormones, estrogen and testosterone, and minimizes the risks of osteoporosis and arthritis. B reduces the need for hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women.
Supplementation with boron has been found to show significant improvement in arthritis and promote calcium integration into the cartilage and bone in humans. Sufficient B in the human system stems the old-age related loss of bone mass and weakening of bones. The antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties brings great relief to persons suffering from symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Brain and psychological functionLow boron plasma levels in humans are observed to cause decreased brain electrical activity and resulted in poor cognitive and psychomotor function, reduced eye-hand coordination, poor dexterity, attention deficit and short and long term memory loss.
Penland JG et al. in their study 'The importance of boron nutrition for brain and psychological function (Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Winter;66(1-3):299-317)', supported "the hypothesis that B nutriture is important for brain and psychological function in humans."
Nielsen FH in the research study 'Is boron nutritionally relevant? (Nutr Rev. 2008 Apr;66(4):183-91.)' concluded that realistic low B intakes result in impaired bone health, brain function, and immune response in higher animals, including humans.
Boron and estrogenBoron deprivation in humans had been reported to elevate urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium in postmenopausal women. Plasma concentrations of 17fl-estradiol and ionized calcium were depressed by a low boron diet. The conditions and symptoms that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen in humans (such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer), get exasperated by B supplementation.
Boron and testosteroneBoron supplementation can increase the level of free plasma testosterone in humans. Naghii MR et al. in their study 'Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines (J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011 Jan;25(1):54-8.)', reported that after its intake, "the mean plasma free testosterone increased and the mean plasma estradiol decreased significantly."
The first human study report, showed that supplementation with boron resulted in a significant increase in its plasma concentration and subsequent increase in level of free testosterone in blood. Hence, boron deficiency in humans may lead to reduced free plasma testosterone levels with the consequent symptoms.
1.Naghii MR, Mofid M, Asgari AR, Hedayati M, Daneshpour MS. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011 Jan;25(1):54-8.
2.Sutherland B, Strong P, King JC. Determining human dietary requirements for boron. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Winter;66(1-3):193-204.
3.Penland JG. The importance of boron nutrition for brain and psychological function. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Winter;66(1-3):299-317.