Big Benefits of Boron!
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Boron is rapidly becoming a heavy hitter in the nutrient world, the trace mineral boron is a micronutrient with diverse and vitally important roles in metabolism that render it necessary for plant, animal, and human health. Boron has been proven to be an important trace mineral and we have put together this article to cover many of those reasons and how Boron can help with many of your bodies needs.
Bone Growth and Maintenance
Scientists have known for many years that boron is essential for healthy bones. In 1985, the USDA conducted an experiment in which postmenopausal women who had been put on a low-boron diet were supplemented with 3 mg/d of boron during two 28-day trials. In one trial, magnesium intake was low; in the other, magnesium intake was adequate. With boron supplementation, the women’s daily urinary excretion of calcium was reduced by 44%.
Boron plays an important role in osteogenesis, and its deficiency has been shown to adversely impact bone development and regeneration. Boron influences the production and activity of steroid hormones, actions via which this trace mineral is involved in the prevention of calcium loss and bone demineralization. Boron supplementation has repeatedly been shown to markedly reduce urinary excretion of both calcium and magnesium and to increase serum levels of estradiol and calcium absorption in peri- and postmenopausal women. Boron also beneficially impacts vitamin-D utilization. Supplementation with boron stimulates bone growth in vitamin-D deficient animals and alleviates dysfunctions in mineral metabolism characteristics of vitamin-D deficiency.
Animal studies published in 2008 and 2009 found that healing of the alveolar bone—a ridge of compact bone that contains the tooth sockets on the maxillae and mandible (ie, the bones that hold teeth)—was inhibited in boron-deficient rats. Compared with boron-adequate rats (3 mg/kg/d of boron in the diet) when evaluated at 7 and 14 days, boron-deficient animals had significant reductions in osteoblast surface concomitant with increases in quiescent surface, indicating that boron deficiency can result in impaired bone healing due to a marked reduction in osteogenesis.
In 2010, Hakki et al published research investigating the mechanisms underlying boron’s effects on osteogenesis. Boron was determined to induce mineralization of osteoblasts by regulating the expression of genes related to tissue mineralization and the actions of key hormones involved in bone growth and turnover. Boron’s induction of tissue mineralization also underlies boron’s beneficial effects on wound healing.
Since 1990, boron has been shown to significantly improve wound healing. Application of a 3% boric acid solution to deep wounds reduced the time required in intensive care by two-thirds. In 2000, in vitro research using human fibroblasts showed that a boric-acid solution improved wound healing through action on the extracellular matrix. Further in vitro studies published in 2002 revealed that these beneficial effects of boron were due to direct actions on specific enzymes found in fibroblasts. The most common cells in animal connective tissue, fibroblasts synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen and play a critical role in wound healing. Boron facilitates the activity of these key enzymes in fibroblasts, thus improving extracellular-matrix turnover.
Regulation of Sex Hormones
Increased levels of sex steroids have been demonstrated in both men and women after boron supplementation. Dietary boron repletion in postmenopausal women, who were previously on a low-boron diet, significantly increased their serum estradiol (E2) and testosterone levels, particularly for those women whose dietary intake of magnesium was low. In women on a low-magnesium diet, E2 almost doubled. Testosterone more than doubled. Similar increases were seen in the women on an adequate-magnesium diet: E2 rose from an average of 15.5 pg/mL to 38.0 pg/mL, and testosterone increased from 0.38 ng/mL to 0.65 ng/mL. In 1997, findings of a similar increase in serum levels of E2 in healthy males after 4 weeks of dietary supplementation with boron have also been published.
After only 1 week of boron supplementation, a further study of healthy males found (1) a significant increase in free testosterone; and (2) significant decreases in E2. All of the inflammatory biomarkers that were measured also decreased: (1) interleukin; (2) high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP); and (3) tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) by approximately 30%. Levels of dihydrotestosterone, cortisol, and vitamin D increased slightly.
The significant decrease in the men’s plasma E2 after 1 week of boron supplementation suggests a higher rate of conversion of total testosterone (T) to free testosterone (FT) in the testosterone metabolic pathway. In support, the ratios of FT/T, T/E2, and FT/E2 were all significantly increased, indicating boron had androgen amplifier effects.
It is well known that approximately 98% of testosterone molecules are bound to proteins in the blood, principally to sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG), and are not bioavailable because bound hormones cannot exit capillaries. Thus, the elevation of unbound free testosterone seen with boron supplementation may have significant beneficial ramifications, particularly in aging men in whom, typically, levels of SHBG increase and levels of FT decrease.
Prevention of Vitamin-D Deficiency
Boron has been shown to increase serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3) in animal studies and of vitamin D–deficient individuals in human studies. In a clinical trial in which middle-aged men and women were placed on a low-boron diet, which was also marginal in magnesium and copper status, for 63 days D3 rose significantly after boron supplementation for an additional 49 days. Levels of D3 rose to a 39% increase.
Similar results were seen in an open pilot study of middle-aged individuals predetermined to be vitamin D deficient were studied, during boron supplementation for 60 days using calcium fructoborate, a boron-containing complex that occurs naturally in fruit. The study took place in Serbia with supplementation beginning in October and concluding by January; in other words, the study occurred during the fall transition to winter, a time when vitamin-D status would be expected to worsen. Yet, with boron supplementation, D3 levels rose significantly, with an average rise of 20%.
How does boron exert its hormonal effects? In sum, boron increases the biological half-life and bioavailability of E2 and vitamin D.
Boron Increases Half-life and Bioavailability of Sex Hormones and Vitamin D.
Boron’s beneficial effects on bone metabolism are due in part to the roles it plays in both producing E2 and in increasing its biological half-life and that of vitamin D. Regarding 17β-estradiol, the simplest and preferred pathway for its production is reduction of the keto group of estrone by a tetrahydroborate salt, potassium borohydride.
Boron significantly improves magnesium absorption and deposition in bone, yet another beneficial effect of boron’s inhibition of 17β-estradiol degradation. Thus, boron is a factor in magnesium’s myriad beneficial effects. Magnesium’s importance, in bone alone, is illustrative of the widespread ramifications of boron insufficiency.
Approximately 60% of the magnesium in the human body is found in bone, where it is a cofactor for key enzymes that regulate calcium metabolism. The majority of magnesium in bone resides on cortical bone, an integral part of the structure of apatite crystal. Apart from its structural role in apatite crystals, magnesium is required in osteoblasts and osteoclasts and in all living cells, within which magnesium is fundamental for adenosine triphosphate production and serves as the cofactor of more than 300 enzymes involved in lipid, protein, and nucleic acid synthesis. Because of its positive charge, magnesium stabilizes cell membranes, balances the actions of calcium, and functions as a signal transducer.
Boron reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers. In a recent human trial involving healthy male volunteers, a significant increase in concentrations of plasma boron occurred 6 hours after supplementation with boron, coupled with significant decreases in levels of hs-CRP and TNF-α. One week of boron supplementation resulted in a 20% decrease in the plasma concentration of TNF-α, from 12.32 to 9.97 pg/mL, and in remarkable decreases (approximately 50%) in plasma concentration of hs-CRP.
Is boron adequacy important? Consider that elevated hs-CRP is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in children, atherosclerosis, unstable angina, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), metastatic prostate cancer, lung cancer, adult depression, depression in childhood and psychosis in young adult life, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Anti-inflammatory Effects in Osteoarthritis
Epidemiological evidence, case reports, and controlled animal and human studies have provided evidence for the use of boron as a safe and effective treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). Examining the relationship between boron administration and OA prevalence around the world, researchers discovered that in areas where boron intake is greater than or equal to 1 mg/d, the estimated incidence of arthritis ranges from 20% to 70%. In contrast, in areas where boron intake is usually 3 to 10 mg/d, estimated incidence of arthritis ranges from 0% to 10%. The boron concentration has been found to be lower in the femur heads, bones, and synovial fluid of OA patients compared with individuals without OA.
Protection Against Malathion-induced Oxidative Stress
In a recent study, boron protected animals chronically exposed to low levels of malathion, a widely used pesticide that causes oxidative stress even at the low levels at which humans are exposed to it in the food supply. Malathion administration by gastric gavage increased malondialdehyde, nitric oxide and 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels, and markers of liver damage. It decreased acetylcholinesterase and reduced glutathione; superoxide dismutase; and catalase activities in blood, liver, kidney, and brain tissues. Administration of boron reversed malathion-induced oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and suppression of antioxidant enzyme activity. Boron decreased malathion-induced oxidative stress, enhanced antioxidant defense mechanisms, and regenerated damaged liver, kidney, and brain tissues in rats.
Brain Activation and Psychological Function
Assessments of brain electrical activity in both animals and humans have shown that boron deprivation in the diet results in decreased brain electrical activity. In mature rats, boron deprivation was associated with decreased high-frequency and increased low-frequency brain electrical activity, consistent with decreased arousal, suggesting that boron may play an important role in the maintenance of brain activation in animals. In humans, boron deprivation resulted in poorer performance on tasks of motor speed and dexterity, attention, and short-term memory. A series of experiments conducted in otherwise healthy older men and women found that relatively short periods, 42 to 73 days, of restricted boron intake adversely affected brain function and cognitive performance. The most consistent EEG finding was that low boron intake resulted in a shift toward more activity in the low frequencies and less activity in the high, dominant frequencies of the EEG spectrum, the same effect typically observed in response to nonspecific malnutrition and heavy-metal toxicity. Increased low frequency activity is characteristic of states of reduced mental alertness, is associated with lowered ability to perform vigilance and psychomotor tasks, and has been related to impaired memory performance.
The effectiveness of some boron compounds—boric acid, borax, colemanite, and ulexite—on the genotoxicity induced by heavy metals—arsenic trioxide, colloidal bismuth subcitrate, cadmium chloride, mercury chloride, and lead chloride—was assessed in human blood cultures. Sister chromatid exchange (SCE) and micronuclei (MN) assays were performed to establish DNA damage in lymphocytes, and oxidative stress was evaluated by estimating the changes in the main, antioxidant, enzyme activities and in the levels of total glutathione in erythrocytes. Heavy-metal treatments increased the frequency of both SCE and MN and the plasma levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress, and decreased the antioxidant enzyme activities and the level of total glutathione compared to controls. All boron-tested compounds significantly reduced all genotoxic effects that were induced by low doses of heavy metals.
An increasing number of papers have indicated that boron possesses anticarcinogenic properties. Boron-rich diets and regions where the soil and water are rich in boron correlate with lower risks of several types of cancer, including prostate, breast, cervical, and lung cancers. Boron-enriched diets have been found to result in significant decreases in risk for prostate and cervical cancer and to decrease risk of lung cancer in smoking women. In the last few years, the use of natural and synthetic boron-containing compounds as anticancer agents has increased, particularly in inoperable cancers and those with high malignancy. Boron-containing compounds interfere with the physiology and reproduction of cancer cells through diverse mechanisms, including inhibition of serine proteases, NAD-dehydrogenases, mRNA splicing and cell division, receptor binding mimicry, and induction of apoptosis.
References for this information and full clinical studies: Nothing Boring About Boron