If you asked most people what nutrients are needed to build strong bones and to prevent osteoporosis, you’d mostly hear one response: calcium. Yet, calcium is one of over a dozen nutrients that are essential to build strong bones (discover more in my book, Healing Injuries the Natural Way). Perhaps the least likely response you’ll ever hear is: boron.
Boron is a trace mineral that increases absorption and utilization of calcium and helps strengthen bones, yet it is frequently overlooked as a bone-health nutrient and almost altogether forgotten, even among many health professionals.
Dr. Bernard Jensen, author of Dr. Jensen‘s Guide to Body Chemistry & Nutrition, cites research that shows boron boosts blood levels of estrogen and other hormones that prevent calcium loss and demineralization of bones. According to Jean Carper, author of Food: Your Miracle Medicine, “boron acts as a mild ‘estrogen replacement therapy’” in post-menopausal women who are deficient in this hormone. This segment of women is more vulnerable to brittle bones due to hormonal declines.
The body requires boron to retain calcium, according to research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. Dr. Forrest H. Nielsen found that post-menopausal women on low-boron diets were more likely to displace calcium and magnesium from their bodies. When they received three mg of boron per day, their calcium losses dropped by 40 percent. Dr. Nielsen believes boron works by boosting natural steroids manufactured by the body in the blood. It increases levels of estrogen and estradiol 17B to double, thereby reaching the same levels as women on pharmaceutical-based estrogen replacement therapy.
The average person in North America gets only half the amount of boron found in the study to be effective at preventing bone demineralization. Dr. Nielsen believes that insufficient consumption of boron could explain why people who consume large quantities of calcium still get osteoporosis. It could also explain why vegetarians typically are less likely to get osteoporosis since they typically eat higher amounts of the fruits and vegetables high in boron.
Boron is found in greatest concentrations in fruits, especially pears, grapes, raisins, dates, peaches, and apples; legumes, especially soybeans; nuts, especially hazelnuts and almonds; and in honey.