By Walter Sorochan HSD, MPH, MSc, BPE; Emeritus Professor San Diego State University
Posted October 29, 2018; updated May 26, 2019. Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice. Although the FDA has not approved the information herein, you should work with your informed medical doctor.
Many of my friends and relatives have had numerous back and joint pains that medical doctors have not been able to fix. Although this author has had a broken synovial fluid capsule in a hip-joint for many years, he was able to successfully minimize hip-joint pain without medications or hip-joint replacement. It is this background that motivated him to search for the missing link to joint pain and arthritis. Although he was aware of boron as perhaps being helpful in preventing joint pain and inflammation, he was surprised when he found new research articles about boron that he had not seen previously on the internet. Readers should view this article as an update to the importance of boron in preventing joint pain, inflammation, healing and preventing a host of chronic diseases.
A shocking revelation was that boron is the essential magic key to better health and that it has been ignored for over 60 years. It explains why medical doctors have been unsuccessful in prescribing medications to combat joint pain, chronic inflammation, arthritis and many chronic disorders. Dr. Rex E. Newnham, PhD, did most of the preliminary studies linking boron to arthritis, cancer and many other health problems. Newnham: Boron for healthy joints 1994 He opened the door for other researchers to build their studies on boron research.
Background information: Boron is found in food, soil and water. Boron (B, atomic number 5, atomic weight 10.811 g/mole) never occurs in nature by itself - it is always found chemically bound to oxygen as either boric acid (H3BO3) or its salts, called borates. For example, borax is hydrated sodium borate. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
Most people know boron from its salt, called borax, which has been used in gold-smithing and to clean clothes for thousands of years. Today, Turkey and the United States are the largest producers of borax products and boron. Wiki: Boron
Boron is found in minute trace amounts in vegetables, fruits and nuts in the form of tetraborate decahydrate that is identical to boron used by the human body and the reason it is readily absorbed by humans and animals.
Boron deficiency in USA: Boron deficiency occurs in people not eating adequate amount of fresh green vegetables, fruit and nuts. Approximately half the population in the United States consumes less than 1 mg of Boron per day. Price: Essential nutrients 2012 Kunin: Boron Ortho-mineral 2000
It has been estimated that 55% of Americans over 50 have osteoporosis and of these about 80% are women. Worldwide 1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men over the age of 50 may have osteoporosis, and this is responsible for millions of fractures each year. Last: The arthritis cure conspiracy 2012 These statistics are important as boron deficiency is perceived to be a contributing cause in many disorders and diseases.
Although many eat fresh raw vegetables and fruit, researchers have found many Americans to be deficient in boron for several reasons. Many snack on junk and preserved foods instead of eating fresh raw vegetables and fruit. They fail to balance out their diet. Many are deficient in boron because the food is grown on farms that have had the soil depleted of boron after years of harvesting; while other farms use fossil fertilizers and insecticides that destroy or interfere with boron being absorbed by plants.
Boron is the most common micronutrient deficiency in plants across the world. For example, sugar cane robs the soil of boron and persons living in such places suffer from arthritis; this supports the linking of boron deficiency to humans and arthritis. Although all plants appear to require boron for multiple processes including protein synthesis, development of cell walls, carbohydrate metabolism, sugar transport, pollen growth, and seed production, the requirement varies across the plant kingdom. Pradhan: boron minimizes pain in joints 2016 Kunin: Boron Ortho-mineral 2000
Importance of boron to life and health: Scientific studies indicate that boron is an essential nutrient because the human body cannot make it. Boron is a superior form of calcium [tetraborate] fructoborate. Life Ext Mag: Boron It is the key to making nutrients work as co-factors. As a key, it turns on the many cellular functions of the body. When we are deficient in boron, and most of us are, then we cannot absorb nutrients from food properly, we cannot absorb the vitamin D adequately from sunshine, and we are susceptible to many chronic diseases and disorders.
Dosage - Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): for infants was judged not determinable due to insufficient data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about the infant's ability to handle excess amounts. Thus, it was decided that in order to prevent high levels of intake, the only source of intake for infants should be from food and formula. Due to the absence of reports of low dose boron toxicity in children and adolescents, the UL for children and adolescents, was extrapolated from the UL established for adults, and was adjusted on the basis of body weight. DRI UL for Boron: Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
World Health Organization recommended a Tolerable Intake (TI) of 0.4 mg/kg bodyweight/day for humans, which is equal to 28 mg/day for a 70 kg human adult. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
Boron Intake levels: The natural boron content of foods varies considerably, based on the quality of the soil. Moore (1997) estimated that dietary intake of boron in North Americans ranges from 0.26 - 7.1 mg/day, with a mean of 1.9 mg/day, but the upper value of 7.1 mg may be an extreme value. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): As boron appears to have some beneficial nutrient value, Nielsen (1992) recommended a total daily boron intake of 1 mg to avoid boron deficiency. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
In summary, the daily intake of boron from natural sources by Canadian adults is estimated to be up to 0.86 mg from water and 2.5 mg from food for a total of 3.4 mg/day, with a normal range from 1-4 mg daily depending on dietary habit (e.g. vegetarians ingest more), geographic location or soil condition and other sources of exposure. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
So what foods are best sources of natural tetraborate decarboydrate boron?
Best boron-rich food sources: AlgaeCal: Best boron food sources
Note: The boron [B] content in foods in the above table is based on the assumption that foods have been grown on soil not depleted of boron. The boron content in each food is based on an assumption. Readers should also be aware that cooking can destroy boron. Foods cooked in boiling water are quickly leached of boron content. Also, Boron is volatile in steam. Boron loss could conceivably be further enhanced during pressure cooking with chlorinated or fluorinated water; boron–halogen compounds are extremely volatile at high temperatures.
A deficiency in boron may be a causing many health problems and we may not be aware of this. Findings strongly suggest that boron is an essential nutrient for human health. Life Ext Mag: Boron
The many researched and validated functions of boron below suggest that boron acts as a key that facilitates not just many body functions but more importantly, coordinates all these functions. Boron makes what appear to be isolated functions happen in a co-factorial manner. Stated in another way, most if not all body functions need boron as a spark to make them happen in a unified whole body manner.
Cell membrane integrity: The exact way boron works in both plants and humans is still somewhat unknown. Boron is required in nucleic acid synthesis, in the maintenance of cell membrane integrity, and in calcium use. Last: The arthritis cure conspiracy 2012 Boron affects cell wall membrane permeable and allows nutrients to move in and out of the cell. A boron deficiency allows calcium to accumulate in the cell, making it more difficult for nutrients to move in and wastes to move out of a cell. This is ambiguously referred to a cell metabolism. For boron to be fully effective in reversing tissue and cell calcification, the body needs ample magnesium. Last: The arthritis cure conspiracy 2012 Boron does not act alone in cells, it needs magnesium and other nutrients.
Although boron is required only in trace amounts, the range separating deficiency and toxicity is narrow. Hunt: boron 2003 The proper Ca:Mg balance is often a 2:1 guesswork .... for with increasing age, boron deficiency and incubating chronic diseases, we need progressively less calcium and more magnesium. Last: The arthritis cure conspiracy 2012
Boron & calcium-magnesium balance: This is a biochemical balance that is not only difficult to understand but much harder to get right.
Nielsen conducted in 1987 the first human study to suggest that boron affects calcium metabolism. He found that boron deprivation increased the urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium and decreased 17 β-estradiol and testosterone concentrations in postmenopausal women. Health Canada: Boron in health products 2007
High blood levels of calcium lead to calcification of soft tissues causing muscle contractions, stiffness, calcification of endocrine glands, especially of the pineal gland and the ovaries, arteriosclerosis, kidney stones, and calcification of the kidneys, and ultimately to kidney failure. Boron controls the balance of calcium and magnesium in bones and dental teeth.
The precise mechanical action of boron for bone health is unknown, but boron stabilizes and extends the half-life of vitamin D and estrogen. Price: Essential nutrients 2012
Absorption: Boron appears to be well absorbed from the intestines [ about 85 % ], and this may be due to being absorbed (as borate) via the transporter known as SLC4A11. Boron: examined 2018
Ingesting 11.4mg of boron with a meal can elevate plasma boron concentrations within one hour peaking at 4 hours after consumption.
Elimination: Boron is rapidly eliminated from the body and does not build up. Hunt: boron 2003 Mastromatteo in 1994 reported that over 95% of absorbed boron is excreted by the kidneys, and its biological half-life is less than one day. Mastromatteo: Health effects of boron 1994
Caution - Do not jump to false conclusions: The above disorders and illnesses may be due to a deficiency of boron in the diet. This author cautiously uses the words "may be" as boron may not be the only factor causing health problems. Other nutrient deficiencies may include vitamin D [lack of sunshine], iodine, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, other vitamins, and minerals like magnesium, zinc, chromium and so on. It could be just eating a bad junk diet as well. Boron is an alkali and can adjust the pH of the body. But boron appears to be definitely a key player in the health of the body.
Since boron cannot readily accumulate within the tissues of animals, meat and dairy products are poor sources of this mineral. Also, processed foods, freezing, canning and discarding the water in which food is cooked can reduce the content of boron in the food.
Toxicity: The Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL) of Boron has been set at 20 mg daily for persons over the age of 18. The average dose is 1 to 3 mgs per day. However, most persons are deficient in boron, with intake less than 1 mg per day, and since there is no buildup of boron in the body, most persons would seldom if ever have toxicity issues. Hunt: boron 2003
Alert: The National Institute of Health warns consumers that boron supplements can be harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions like breast or prostate cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids since boron can increase estrogen levels. People with existing cases of kidney disease or liver disease should also use boron supplements very carefully and seek the advice of an informed doctor first since these conditions can alter the way the body gets rid of excess boron and other minerals.
Supplements: Boron intake from food is not toxic but boron from excessive supplements may cause toxicity.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of boron has not been established. Toxicity would seldom happen as excess boron is rapidly excreted in the urine. Thus, it is reasonable to supplement the diet with 1-3 mgs of boron although this dietary need may also be met by increased consumption of fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits such as prunes, raisins, dried apricots, or avocados. Price: Essential nutrients 2012
Boron is available in three-milligram [3mgs] pill format in most health food stores in North America. Morris: Curing arthritis
Despite boron’s critical importance in maintaining bone health, some of the leading bone health products on the market — especially those containing calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium—do not include any form of boron! Furthermore, the few products that do include forms of boron are not optimally absorbed. The absence of boron in bone health supplements may contribute to the epidemic of low bone mass and osteoporosis that afflicts so many aging adults, even those who use commercial supplements. Life Ext Mag: Boron
Lab tests for boron in blood:
Medical doctor Kunin reports doing blood, hair and urine tests on his patients. Kunin: Boron Ortho-mineral 2000 But your medical doctor may have to search for a lab that does such tests. This author found this lab West Pacific Medical Lab doing boron tests: Test Name Boron Quantitative, Serum or Plasma; Test Code AR0091330.
Commercial Uses: Besides being needed by the body, boron is used in industry. Boric acid has antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties and for these reasons is applied as a water clarifier in swimming pool water treatment. Mild solutions of boric acid have been used as eye antiseptics. Wiki: Boron
Boron is also used in both radiation shielding, for nuclear reactivity control and as radiation shield in future manned interplanetary spacecraft. In the United States, 70% of the boron is used to strengthen glass and ceramics. Borax is used in various household laundry and cleaning products, including the "20 Mule Team Borax" laundry booster and "Boraxo" powdered hand soap and as a wood preservative. It is also used as an insecticide, notably against ants, fleas, and cockroaches. Boron adds strength to neodymium magnets, making these magnets lightweight and powerful. Wiki: Boron Borates are used as environmentally benign wood preservatives.
Boron acts as a natural food preservative within foods. Because boron helps diminish bacteria growth, it was a natural way to prevent crops from spoiling, so during World War I and II it was added to foods to prolong their freshness and reduce food pathogens when refrigeration wasn’t always possible. Axe: boron & health
This summary section has been obtained from Dr. Last's article: "Borax is a naturally occurring mineral commonly mined from dried salt lakes, and is the source of other manufactured boron compounds. The main deposits are in California and Turkey. Chemical names are sodium tetraborate decahydrate, disodium tetraborate decahydrate, or simply sodium borate. Borax is commonly sold as technical or agricultural grade with 99 to 99.5% minimum purity. Potential impurities consist of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, carbonate, sulphate and phosphate but not toxic or heavy metals. This grade includes the borax commonly used as household cleaner. Pharmaceutical grade is not noticeably purer or better. Borax is the sodium salt of the weak boric acid. Because sodium is more strongly alkaline, this makes a solution of borax strongly alkaline with a pH between 9 and 10 [pH 7 is neutral]. When ingested, it reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to form boric acid and sodium chloride. The boron content of Borax is 11.3% while for boric acid it is 17.5% or about 50% higher. Ingested boron compounds are rapidly and nearly completely excreted in urine. Formerly boric acid was widely used as a preservative in foods but is now banned for this purpose in most countries." Last: The arthritis cure conspiracy 2012
We do not have all the information we need about boron and how it works in the body. A major reason is that most researchers have used the medical-drug model to study the impact of boron on the body as a single isolated function. Instead, the human body works as an integrated whole function. Boron, like all nutrients, needs a different research paradigm design from the medical drug research; one that studies a nutrient on a co-factorial - whole body function basis.
Boron is not a patentable compound, as it is found in nature. Since most drug companies provide money for drug research and not for health research, this discourages money for boron and health research. There is no money to be made from boron research and especially if drug companies would not make money from better health. Mastromatteo: Health effects of boron 1994
The danger in using boron is not from using boron. Rather it is from the medical-industrial complex blocking boron research and keeping the public uninformed. We need good research to further validate the research already done.
But as medical doctor Kunin points out: "...combination of orthomolecular and pharmaceutical research promises to open a new era of "miracle drugs." Boron is a versatile candidate to lead this revolution in nutraceutical medicine." Kunin: Boron Ortho-mineral 2000
Boron is a magic bullet for health. It provides the spark that makes the whole body work. Boron is recognized as an essential trace mineral. In very small dosage, it has a powerful affect on many functions of the body. Boron is emerging as a crucial nutrient for minimizing joint inflammation and pain Hip Joint Pain Relief With Boron, supporting healthy bone mass and thus avoiding the scourge of osteoporosis that plagues older Americans today. Compelling new evidence indicates that boron also affects bone growth, promotes healthy joints, helps prevent prostate cancer, reduces risk of some cancers, improves cognitive function, and may offer powerful antioxidant protection. This little-known mineral should be a nutritional staple for all seeking to prevent chronic diseases and optimize their health. Recent research has found that not all boron formulations are equally effective. Boron in the available form of tetraborate fructoborate is the boron found in plants. This form is the same as found in humans, is very compatible in humans, is readily absorbed, is instantly useable and safe as a food or supplement. Boron takes about one to 8 weeks to become activated. Nielson: Boron - health update 2014 Life Ext Mag: Boron
This article summarizes the many functions of boron. The reader should not jump to the conclusion that boron can work on its own without the support of other nutrients. For example, boron would not be of much help if a person continues to eat bad junk foods that feed bad bacteria in the colon, that, in turn, incubate chronic diseases. It would be like shooting oneself in the foot!
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