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What Does Boron Do for the Body? Benefits and Risks

What does boron do for the body?

Boron is a trace mineral that affects hormone and enzyme metabolism, immune function, bone formation, brain function and other systems in the body.

Boron is a trace mineral found in many foods and in the environment. It is also available as a dietary supplement. It is called an ultra-trace mineral, which means it is required in very minute quantities in the diet.

Boron doesn’t come under the category of essential nutrients for humans because there isn’t any clear evidence regarding the biological function of boron. However, it does have some beneficial effects on body functions such as it

  • Beneficially impacts the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone and vitamin D.
  • Plays a role in stronger bone formation.
  • Plays a role in stronger memory and a healthier brain.
  • Increases levels of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
  • Plays a role in insulin and energy substrate metabolism.
  • Acts as an immune booster.
  • Maintains the optimal function of steroid hormones.
  • Plays a possible role in treating erectile dysfunction in men.

Taking oral boron supplements by mouth prevents boron deficiency.

There is insufficient evidence to prove that boron is beneficial in the following conditions

  • Osteoarthritis: Few clinical studies in humans have suggested that boron is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Boron manages osteoarthritis by possibly reducing inflammation. Additional studies are required to prove the same.
  • Osteoporosis: Some of the early research suggests that daily oral intake of boron doesn’t increase bone mass density in postpartum women.
  • Increasing testosterone levels in men

What are the chief food sources of boron?

The boron content in plant foods depends on the boron content of the soil and water where they are grown. Some of the food sources with their boron levels are as follows

Selected food sources of boron

Food
Milligrams (mg)

per serving

Prune juice, 1 cup
1.43

Avocado, raw, cubed, 0.5 cup
1.07

Raisins, 1.5 ounces
0.95

Peaches, 1 medium
0.80

Grape juice, 1 cup
0.76

Apples, 1 medium
0.66

Pears, 1 medium
0.50

Peanuts, roasted, salted, 1 ounce
0.48

Beans, refried, 0.5 cup
0.48

Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons
0.46

Apple juice, 1 cup
0.45

Chili con carne, with beans, 1 cup
0.41

Grapes, 0.5 cup
0.37

Oranges, 1 medium
0.37

Lima beans, dry, cooked, 0.5 cup
0.35

Applesauce, 0.5 cup
0.34

Fruit cocktail, canned, in a heavy syrup, 0.5 cup
0.26

Broccoli, boiled, chopped, 0.5 cup
0.20

Orange juice, 1 cup
0.18

Spinach, boiled, 0.5 cup
0.16

Banana, medium
0.16

Spaghetti sauce, 0.5 cup
0.16

Cantaloupe, cubed, 0.5 cup
0.14

Carrots, raw, 1 medium
0.14

Peas, green, cooked, 0.5 cup
0.10

Milk, whole, 1 cup
0.04

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What is the maximum amount of boron you can take?

The maximum recommended amount of boron in each age group is as follows.

Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for boron

Age
Male
Female
Pregnancy
Lactation

Birth to 6 month
None established*
None established*

7 to 12 months
None established*
None established*

1 to 3 years
3 mg
3 mg

4 to 8 years
6 mg
6 mg

9 to 13 years
11 mg
11 mg

14 to 18 years
17 mg
17 mg
17 mg
17 mg

19+ years
20 mg
20 mg
20 mg
20 mg

*Breast milk, formula, and food should be the only sources of boron for infants.

What are the health risks of taking excess boron?

There are no harmful effects of high boron intake from food and water. However, boron toxicity may be possible with the consumption of boric acid or borax. Boric acid or borax may be present in some household cleaning products and pesticides. Symptoms of boron toxicity include

  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Depression
  • Excitation
  • Skin flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Anorexia (an eating disorder characterized by abnormally low body weight)
  • Kidney injury

Excessive doses of boron can be fatal, particularly at 15,000 to 20,000 mg of boron.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/11/2021

References

Medscape Medical Reference

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

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