Brains, Bones, and Boron

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI on July 10, 2017Written by Brian Krans and Rachel Nall

Brains, Bones & Boron

Boron and your health

Boron is an element found naturally in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. It can also be found in grains, prunes, raisins, noncitrus fruits, and nuts.

A person’s daily diet typically contains 1.5 to 3 milligrams (mg) of boron. The five most common sources of boron in a person’s daily diet are:

  • apples
  • coffee
  • dried beans
  • milk
  • potatoes

Boron helps your body to metabolize key vitamins and minerals, and it also affects estrogen and testosterone levels. There is no established dietary recommendation for boron in terms of daily value. And a boron deficiency also hasn’t been proven to cause any diseases.

Boron and the brain

Small studies have indicated that boron may play a role in brain function. Early studies in the 1990s showed promise for human supplementation with boron.

For example, one 1994 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who added 3.25 mg of boron to their diets were better at memory and hand-eye coordination tasks than people with low boron levels.

These encouraging results didn’t spur a boron research boom. Now boron-related research studies are mostly limited to those performed on laboratory rats. Although researchers know that boron plays a role in many human functions, it’s status as a minor mineral means there aren’t many recent human trials regarding boron’s benefits on the brain.

Bones and joints

Boron can aid in keeping your bones strong along with possibly improving brain function.

Boron is known to play a role in extending the half-life of vitamin D and estrogen.

The half-life is the amount of time it takes for a substance to break down to half its starting amount. Scientists aren’t exactly sure how boron does this. But it could be important for bone health in several ways.

First, vitamin D is essential for bone health because it enhances your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Calcium is a mineral responsible for making bones strong. Boron could help enhance bone health by increasing how long vitamin D works in your body.

According to an article in The Open Orthopaedics Journal, people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have low levels of boron. This shows that the two nutrients have a relationship in terms of their availability in the body.

Estrogen is another hormone that plays a role in bone health. It protects against bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. This is a condition that can make bones weak and brittle in both men and women. By extending the amount of time estrogen is present in the body, boron may help to maintain healthy bones.

While boron supplements have been considered as a possible treatment for people with arthritis, more clinical evidence is needed to support this claim.

Are supplements safe?

When it comes to taking supplements, too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing. Taking excess amounts of supplements can make it harder for your body to filter out the extra it doesn’t need. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the recommended amounts a person should take each day are as follows:

AgeDaily recommended dose
children ages 1 to 33 mg
children ages 4 to 86 mg
children ages 9 to 1311 mg
teenagers ages 14 to 1817 mg
adults ages 19 and up20 mg

Boron is considered safe for most people, but large amounts can be harmful. There also isn’t data regarding a safe level for children younger than 1 year old. And its safety hasn’t been studied in pregnant women.

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.

If you don’t want to take additional boron supplements, eating foods that contain boron, like prunes, raisins, dried apricots, or avocados, can help increase boron levels.

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