Boron may not sound like the most interesting thing in the world, but it’s been touted as a miracle treatment for a sluggish brain and frail bones.
Located right at the top of the periodic table, boron is an element found naturally in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, as well as in grains, prunes, raisins, non-citrus fruits, and nuts. A person’s typical daily diet contains 1.5 to 3 milligrams (mg) of boron.
Boron is essential for healthy bone development, helps the body to metabolize key vitamins and minerals, and also affects estrogen and testosterone levels. There are different variations of boron, including boron oxide or boric acid. While generally considered non-toxic for humans, it is also used as an insecticide.
Boron and the Brain
Research has indicated that boron may play a role in brain function and could be an essential nutrient for humans. Studies show that boron deprivation can result in poorer task performance involving motor speed and dexterity, attention, and short-term memory.
One study that supplemented participants’ diets with 3.25 mg of boron saw them perform better at memory and hand-eye coordination tasks than people with low boron levels.
Still, there is no established dietary recommendation for boron in terms of daily value, nor has boron deficiency been proved to cause any diseases.
There is some evidence to back up claims that boron can boost athletic performance by increasing hand-eye coordination, along with some limited research to support the claims that it can help boost your muscle mass.
Bones and Joints
Along with keeping your brain in tip-top shape, it can also aid in keeping your bones strong, another important concern for athletes.
It has also shown potential in the prevention of osteoporosis — a thinning of the bones — but there isn’t enough clinical evidence to support its use medically.
Early research has indicated that boron may also play a role in osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. However, while boron supplements have been considered as a possible treatment for people with arthritis, more clinical evidence is needed to support these claims.
Are Supplements Safe?
Boron is considered safe for most people, but large amounts can cause poisoning. The way it affects estrogen levels can be of concern for some women. Two small studies suggest that post-menopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy may have increased risks of breast or uterine cancer.
It’s important that you talk with your doctor before taking supplements. Most experts recommend increasing intake through dietary sources like fruits and vegetables before considering supplements.