Boron, Mineral SurpriseOctober 31, 2016
Boron, Mineral Surprise
Ever heard of boron? Not a very common mineral in mammals. In fact, it's considered an "ultra-trace" mineral. Produced by spallation and supernovae, it is not an abundant mineral but is present in many soils at a trace level. There is no obvious known animal use for it as making rats deficient has been a challenge requiring ultra pure diets. Rats then get lousy skin and fur. It's very light in weight and makes extremely hard crystals, allowing it to be used as an industrial abrasive and in high-tech magnets and super strong fibers.
Imagine my surprise when I find that it has a surprising role in humans. It is one of the most effective known tools to reduce sex hormone-binding globulin. It also may play a surprising role in osteoporosis and arthritis. In parts of the world where the intake of boron is less than a mg a day, the incidence of arthritis is 50-70%. In those parts of the world where boron intake is 3-10 mg a day, arthritis is around 0-10%. That's just epidemiology, and we don't have good human studies with arthritis.
We do have a study showing boron's effect on SHBG. SHBG is Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. It is the protein tasked with transporting estrogen and testosterone around the body. Hormones are based on cholesterol, a fat, and fat doesn't dissolve in water. SHBG allows them to be transported in water. It binds about 99% of the hormones, leading only 1% in the bioavailable or free form. The way birth control pills work is to dramatically increase SHBG, thereby binding virtually all free estrogen and testosterone. The problem arises when you stop the pill, SHBG may not go back to normal. In fact, SHBG's continuing to be high may be a problem with men too.
Continued high SHBG leads to very tiny levels of free testosterone. Lowering SHBG may be part of how we raise the level of the hormones we depend on for good health, testosterone and estrogen. In this study, 10 mg of boron was given to eight healthy men for a week. In that short time period, their blood boron increased and their free testosterone increased dramatically by 29%, mostly due to a drop in SHBG. Interestingly enough, CRP, the main mediator of inflammation, dropped dramatically as well. This is a terribly short study, with a tiny number of participants, but it opens a door to think about the benefit of boron.
Then, I look at the ingredients in my most effective bone builder, Pro Bono, and I see 2.5 mg of boron daily. The literature on boron and calcium and bone metabolism is thin, but it suggests we do better when we have more.
www. What will work for me? I had no idea that boron played such a big role in general health. I'm sort of fascinated that this arcane, micro-mineral might be so useful. I'm determined to follow this further. Between lowering CRP, lowering SHBG, raising testosterone, lowering calcium excretion, we might have a whole host of reasons to consider this spallated mineral to be a little superstar. And it's fun to learn the term spallation. I'm adding boron to my list of minerals to use for arthritis, inflammation and SHBG management. 3 mg a day sounds good to me.
1. Boron is a critical element for human health. T or F? Answer: Trick question. We don't really know. It's a micro trace element with no known mechanism of action but with many small studies showing beneficial effects.
2. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin rises dramatically with boron. T or F? Answer: False. It drops. That is good. Make for higher free testosterone.
3. Birth Control Pills may lead to a permanent elevation of SHBG. T or F? Answer: True. That leads to less muscle, less immune function, less libido.
4. Spallation is the creation of minerals by cosmic rays. T or F? Answer: True. Boron, beryllium, aluminum, neon, iodine among others are formed this way. Also describes how to make flint arrowheads. 5. A good dose of boron is well provided in most vitamins. T or F? Answer: Well, we don't know. Boron is included at 150 mcg in Centrum. May not be enough for optimal effects.