Ranking the best boron supplements of 2020

Ranking the best boron supplements of 2020
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Boron is a trace mineral element that, when taken in supplement form, can help improve your bone strength, increase levels of testosterone, improve your cognitive function, and decrease levels of inflammation in your body.

Boron was historically a fairly obscure mineral, but increasing amounts of scientific research are demonstrating that it plays a critical role in everything from bone metabolism to brain function.

If these benefits are what you are looking for, we’ve evaluated and ranked the ten best boron supplements on the market so you can make the most of its physiological benefits for your body.

Rankings

1. Pure Encapsulations Boron Glycinate

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Pure Encapsulations has the most minimal and easily absorbable boron supplement around. It’s delivered using boron glycinate, which can be easily absorbed by your body, and the vegetable-based cellulose capsule is vegan-friendly.

With zero additional ingredients, this supplement delivers a respectable 2 mg dosage, which is plenty for most people. Unless you know you need a higher dosage, this should be your top choice.

2. Now Boron

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Now Boron delivers a 3 mg dose of boron in the form of calcium borogluconate. It’s contained in an animal-based gelatin capsule and only has a couple of additional ingredients: rice flour and stearic acid, both to hold the capsule together. It’s an easily-absorbed form of boron in a fairly simple package, making it a good choice.

3. Swanson Triple Boron Complex

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Swanson Triple Boron Complex uses three different forms of boron to ensure that this high-dose boron supplement achieves a high level of bioavailability.

With boron glycinate, citrate, and aspartate, the amount of boron you actually absorb from this boron supplement is going to be higher than many of its competitors.

Not everybody needs a high dose of boron, but if you do, Swanson Triple Boron Complex is the right choice.

4. Trace Minerals Ionic Boron

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Trace Minerals makes their boron supplement in liquid form. Using an ionic salt form of boron, each serving (delivered with the measured dropper in the vial) delivers 6 mg of boron, along with a small amount of a few other trace minerals like calcium and magnesium.

The liquid form is the primary convenience of this supplement; while it’s harder to get a precise dose because of the difficulty of accurately measuring small amounts of liquid, it’s far easier to incorporate a couple of drops of this boron supplement into a shake or a smoothie.

It’s a good choice if you’ve already got enough capsule-based supplements or medications in your life.

5. Bluebonnet Triple Boron

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Bluebonnet is far from the only supplement manufacturer to make a triple source boron supplement using boron glycinate, citrate, and aspartate, but Bluebonnet does have a solid reputation for supplement purity.

This boron supplement delivers 3 mg per serving, and comes in a vegan-friendly vegetable derived cellulose capsule. It’s a decent middle of the road choice.

6. Good State Health Solutions Natural Ionic Boron

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Good State Health Solutions makes a liquid form of boron that’s just boric acid dissolved in highly purified water.

This is a good option if you need a high dose of boron in liquid form, but for most people, the difficulty of measuring out the liquid in an accurate manner is going to offset these benefits for most people.

Keep it on your list if you do need a large volume of high-dose liquid form boron, though.

7. Life Extension Boron

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Life Extension tries to capitalize on the multifaceted and evolving knowledge on boron’s biological role by providing it alongside vitamin B2 for enhanced hormonal benefits.

It has a triple source boron complex like a few of the other boron supplements on the market, which will enhance its bioavailability, but the inclusion of vitamin B2 is hard to justify so far—our understanding of the function of boron is so limited that it’s hard to definitively point to research showing that this particular combination is going to be beneficial.

8. Twinlab Tri-Boron

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Twinlab makes a boron supplement that uses the same three-source combination of boron that you’ll find in other boron supplements: boron glycinate, boron citrate, and boron aspartate.

It’s delivered at a dose of 3 mg and comes in a gelatin capsule. Unfortunately, there are a few more extraneous ingredients than some of the other boron supplements out there, landing Twinlab Tri-Boron a bit lower in the rankings.

9. Nature’s Way Boron Complex

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Nature’s Way makes a 3 mg boron supplement, which is delivered as an amino acid chelate. While amino acid chelates are usually well-absorbed, the manufacturer doesn’t specify which amino acids this boron supplement is chelated with, making it difficult to compare with other supplements and making it impossible to match the supplementation protocols used in the scientific literature.

While it’s not an awful option, other boron supplements don’t have these drawbacks.

10. Vibrant Health Super Natural Boron

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This boron supplement is delivered in the form of calcium fructoborate, and is paired with broccoli powder for some green superfood power.  The boron dosage is 3 mg, so pretty solid. While green veggies are definitely beneficial, there isn’t enough research to support this pairing either, so it makes it hard to recommend. To take advantage of the full range of boron’s benefits, it’s probably better to take a more focused supplement.

Who should buy boron?

Boron is a rare but important mineral that has a few specific applications. It’s useful for increasing testosterone and reducing estrogen levels in your body, as well as improving cognitive function, reducing inflammation, and strengthening your bones.

Like other trace minerals, like selenium and copper, the precise role of boron isn’t exactly clear, but appears to involve assisting with certain enzymes along important biochemical pathways.

In any case, boron may be a good choice for older men, because it addresses several of the health concerns that they face: sluggish cognitive performance, decreasing testosterone levels, generalized inflammation in the body, and decreases in bone strength.

Older women may also benefit specifically from the potential improvements in bone strength, though for them, it’s important to note that stronger evidence supports both vitamin D and calcium as supplements for bone health.

Along with other options like fish oil, boron could be a good candidate for people looking for a way to potentially stave off age-related cognitive declines and brain fog.

Older adults seem well-positioned to benefit from boron supplementation, not just because of the potential cognitive benefits but from the anti-inflammatory benefits on arthritis, too. Though boron is a niche supplement, it has the potential to be useful in these few key areas. 

How we ranked

Since the research on boron supplementation in humans is still fairly preliminary, we kept things pretty simple with our boron supplement rankings. We were looking for the purest, simplest, and most effective boron supplements that delivered an effective dose with as little ancillary or unnecessary ingredients as possible.

Broadly speaking, you’ll encounter two forms of boron supplements on the market: tablets and capsules, or liquid ionic boron. Our research team found that tablets and capsules are generally superior to liquid boron supplements because they have more predictable and consistent dosages.

The key weakness of liquids is that eyedropper measurements are far less precise than what a supplement manufacturer can achieve with commercial-grade tablet pressing equipment. Tablets and capsules also tend to require less in the way of preservatives, stabilizers, or flavoring agents.

However, liquid boron supplements do fill a niche: they’re great for people who already have too many pills to take in a day, or who want to incorporate boron into a specially designed green drink, smoothie, or protein shake

Beyond the delivery format, we also looked at the actual molecular form of boron. Some supplements only supply a single form of boron, while others use multiple different molecular forms in an effort to boost bioavailability.

The research isn’t in yet on whether having multiple kinds of boron boosts absorption, so we were fairly agnostic on this front.

However, we did have a preference for specific molecular forms which are known to be bioavailable, like certain amino acid chelates and water-soluble salts like glycinate.

As usual, a product that used a cellulose capsule as opposed to an animal-based gelatin was slightly preferable to improve compatibility with vegetarian and vegan diets. 

In terms of the dose of boron, we looked primarily for supplements that provided doses in the most common range used in research, two to three milligrams per day. A few supplements provided higher doses, like 12 mg, but most applications call for a lower dose.

Like with all of our rankings, we valued purity and clean supplement design, but since boron is such a simple supplement, these factors were even more important than usual.

We dropped products that had too much in the way of fillers and binders. Some products offered extras, like vitamin B12 alongside boron, and while there may be some theoretical justifications for these choices, the empirical support isn’t there yet, so these were rated lower.

We sorted the remaining products by a combination of their delivery format, form of boron used, capsule substance, and purity, leaving us with our final list of the best boron supplements that are available right now. 

Benefits

Until fairly recently, boron was thought to be of importance mostly for plants, not for people. But a raft of scientific evidence is changing that perspective, and now, we know that boron can improve your health in a number of ways. Even though it’s only found in trace levels, boron appears to contribute to a range of health benefits.

There’s evidence that boron can boost your testosterone levels, improve your cognitive function, decrease inflammation in your body, and strengthen your skeleton by increasing your bone density. These benefits make boron particularly attractive to older adults, who often suffer from a range of cognitive, inflammatory, and skeletal problems.

Boron can boost your testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a role in everything from regulating your body fat concentration to building muscular strength to maintaining healthy sexual function.

Its omnipresent nature seems to make it prone to being affected by deficiencies in trace minerals like zinc and magnesium—that’s why many testosterone boosters contain these trace minerals. Nutrition research suggests that the same may be true with boron.

A scientific study published in 2011 in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology investigated the effects of a boron supplementation routine on blood levels of hormones and inflammatory markers (1).

The experiment involved a seven-day period of boron supplementation, during which the participants took 10 mg of boron every morning. At the study’s conclusion, the researchers re-tested levels of the blood biomarkers measured at the study’s outset.

They found that the boron supplementation routine resulted in a significant increase in testosterone and a significant decrease in estrogen. While testosterone is affected by a wide range of nutrients, this study demonstrates that boron should not be neglected from that list.

Boron can reduce inflammation in your body. The same study also found a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines, compounds that are linked to higher levels of inflammation in your body.

Additional evidence for this comes from a review study by Curtiss D. Hunt and Joseph P. Idso at the United States Department of Agriculture (2). The review cites evidence that boron plays a role in regulating the normal inflammatory process in your body.

If your boron levels are disrupted, the consequence could be abnormal inflammation. More direct evidence supports the idea that boron could be used to actively reduce inflammation in your body.

A study published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research by researchers in Romania tested whether a boron supplement improved symptoms in people with osteoarthritis, a classic inflammatory disease (3).

Participants were split into several groups. One received a placebo supplement with no boron included, while the other three received increasing doses of boron, ranging from 1.5 mg per day to 6 mg per day. After 15 days, the researchers found that the patients receiving the boron supplement fared better and had fewer signs of inflammation than those who did not.

Boron can help support cognitive function. Research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives used a direct nutritional intervention to study the effects of boron intake on cognitive functioning (4).

The researcher behind the study compared two diets designed to be very low and very high in boron content across a series of three different studies. When subjects were on the low boron diet, they showed worse cognitive performance on a number of fronts: manual dexterity, attention, perception, and hand-eye coordination.

Even raw measures of brain power, like reaction time, were adversely affected by low boron intake. The same researcher also authored a review on a few additional studies which testified to the importance of boron to brain function (5).

When boron levels drop below a critical threshold, cognitive abilities are impaired across a wide range of tasks. Most interestingly, the subjects in these studies had borderline low boron levels when they came in, indicating that boron deficiency is quite common among the general population.

Boron plays an important role in bone strength. Boron appears to interact with various hormones, plus calcium levels in your body, to help strengthen your bones.

According to a review paper in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, studies in both humans and animals demonstrate that a normal boron intake level supports bone growth, and a lack of adequate boron has deleterious effects on bone strength (6).

Another scientific article by nutrition researchers at the University of California Berkeley suggests that boron helps mediate the interactions between calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which are all essential for building bone density and interact in a complicated interplay (7). If boron levels are insufficient, this system does not work as well as it should, and bone health suffers.  While boron is not the only component for building strong and healthy bones, the research indicates that it is a critical one, and should not be neglected.

Increasing your intake of boron might help improve blood lipids and could lead to weight loss. Boron is found in trace amounts in foods like avocados, dried apples and bananas, and almonds and other nuts, and new research shows that increasing your dietary intake of these boron-containing foods might help improve your health.

A paper published in 2019 in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology studies the effects of a high-boron diet in 13 women over the course of one month (8).

The researchers had the women increase their dietary intake of foods rich in boron, and observed what happened to various markers of health. The researchers found that, after the diet, the women had lower cholesterol levels and a lower body mass index.

At the same time, they found that boron levels in the saliva, urine, and blood had increased markedly. The researchers suggested that these results provide evidence that boron could play a role in decreasing body mass and improving your risk profile for cardiovascular disease.

While these are interesting results, it’s important to point out that the sample size in this study is quite small, and more importantly, there was no control group.

It’s not easy to tell whether the women’s changes were actually from the boron, or from other changes that may have came about because they knew they were improving the quality of their diet. More research is definitely needed before we can conclude that boron by itself is a strong supplement for weight loss.

Side effects

So far, no clinical studies have reported any adverse effects or side effects related to boron. The United States Institute on Medicine Panel on Micronutrients found no evidence for any adverse effects related to high boron intake, even at levels far beyond what’s used in scientific research on boron supplementation (9).

Even so, the research on boron is fairly new, so it’s best to stick to the established dose ranges. There is no evidence you’ll face any risks for going beyond these, but there is also no evidence for any benefits either.

Recommended dose

The most comprehensive research on boron supplementation has examined dosages ranging from 1.5 to 6 mg per day. Your diet may naturally provide one or two mg of boron per day already—in the only studies on direct boron intake, that was the level of dietary boron prior to any dietary interventions.

So, you’ll likely get the best results at between 2 and 3 mg of supplemental boron per day. Doses beyond that aren’t necessary for most people.

One very small study used a dose of 11.6 mg of boron per day to increase testosterone and decrease estrogen, so these higher doses (of up to 12 mg per day) are popular with men specifically looking to increase testosterone and decrease their estrogen levels. Other applications, though, call for a lower dose.

FAQ

Q: Does boron increase estrogen? 

A: While events are preliminary, boron actually appears to decrease estrogen (and increase testosterone). One study in men was able to show that seven days of supplementation with 11.6 mg of boron per day leads to increases in testosterone levels and a decrease in estrogen levels (10).

Interestingly, though, boron may be helpful for post-menopausal women, even though it does not increase estrogen levels. One of the early studies on boron and its role in diet was conducted in 1987 in a sample of postmenopausal women (11).

The study concluded that women who have a diet that is low in boron could gain bone mass and decrease calcium excretion by taking a boron supplement, even independent of any effects on estrogen levels. 

Q: Is boron harmful to humans? 

A: Most people get very little boron in their typical diet: the average person gets between 1.0 and 1.3 mg per day.

Supplements can add to this, but even a high supplemental dose is far below any toxic levels that have been identified in environmental health research. At very high doses, boron can be toxic to developing fetuses, according to one government report that reviewed a number of animal studies (12).

To be safe, it might be better to avoid taking boron during pregnancy, but in otherwise healthy people, even large doses of ingested boron are not particularly dangerous at least in the short term.

Unfortunately, since boron supplementation is such a new trend, we don’t know much about the long term effects of supplemental doses. 

Q: Is boron good for arthritis? 

A: Boron is known to generate anti-inflammatory effects, which has stimulated increased interest in using it as a supplement for arthritis.

Some fascinating data from R.E. Newnham presented in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives points out that arthritis incidence is much higher in areas with low boron intakes compared to areas with high boron intakes (13).

Additionally, a placebo-controlled trial found that 6 mg per day supplement of boron led to improvements in symptoms of arthritis (14).

As with much of the other research on boron, these results are preliminary and these studies are small; there isn’t as much evidence supporting boron as there is supporting other ingredients commonly used in joint supplements, for example. 

Q: Does boron have benefits for the brain? 

A: Cognitive benefits are one of the more promising avenues for boron supplementation. A paper published in the journal Advances in Plant and Animal Boron Nutrition points out that boron deficiency can inhibit central nervous system function (14), and other data supports the idea that increasing boron levels can increase cognitive performance.

A paper published in 1994 describes a series of three experiments in which dietary boron levels were manipulated to be low (0.25 mg of boron per day) or high (3.25 mg of boron per day), and subjects were tested on their cognitive performance (15).

The results from a series of experiments suggested that higher boron levels were associated with better scores on the cognitive performance assessments, making the case that a lack of boron can contribute to cognitive tasks including memory, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, attention, and perception.

Based on these data, boron could be a great supplement for boosting brain function, especially if your diet is low in boron to begin with. 

Q: Should you take boron before bed? 

A: There’s not enough research on boron to definitively determine when the best time of day is to take it. Even as of 2018, pharmaceutical research is still exploring the absorption and excretion of different forms of boron supplementation (16).

For now, all we can say is that supplementation of boron once per day is what’s been used in scientific research: we don’t know whether it’s best to take it in the morning or before bed. 

Q: What foods have boron in them? 

A: Boron rich foods include nuts, seeds, avocado, and various kinds of fruit, like apples, bananas, and pears.

To facilitate the delivery of larger doses of boron, research often uses dried fruit to increase the amount of boron you can consume at once, though you need to be careful not to load up on too much sugar with dried fruit.

Often, lower quality dried fruit products use a lot of sugar alongside the fruit; adding all of that to your diet is not going to be good for your health. 

Q: Does a boron supplement boost testosterone levels?

A: Boron has shown some early promise in boosting testosterone levels, at least based on a small study on eight men (17). This finding was in contrast with earlier work in bodybuilders which found no benefit to boron supplementation (18), so the issue is definitely not fully settled. Still, the simultaneous increase in testosterone and decrease in estrogen seen in the first study is a positive sign.

In any case, we’ll need larger and better controlled studies on boron supplementation in men to get a definitive answer on its potential for boosting testosterone levels. Still, that won’t stop many men from using boron for potentially increasing their testosterone levels in the interim.

Q: Can boron help erectile dysfunction? 

A: No direct evidence has yet emerged that suggests that boron can directly improve erectile function in men with sexual dysfunction.

A multi-part research article published on potential nutritional, lifestyle, and supplemental interventions for erectile dysfunction published in the journal Urology Clinics of North America reviewed reams of studies on trace minerals and supplements, but did not even discuss boron specifically (19).

There is some indirect evidence that boron could improve erectile dysfunction via its potential testosterone boosting effects; if your erectile problems are caused by low testosterone, and low boron levels were implicated in your low testosterone, there is a possibility that boron could help.

However, a more direct solution might be to try something that targets erectile dysfunction specifically, like a male enhancement pill or a nitric oxide supplement.

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Recap

Boron has a wide range of applications, from supporting healthy brain function and cognition to keeping your testosterone levels high and your inflammation levels low.

It could be helpful for older men who struggle with low testosterone and “brain fog,” as well as people looking for relief from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.

There are no adverse effects known so far, and the optimal dose for most people looks to be 2 to 3 mg per day. That’s the range of doses used in the scientific studies that have found the greatest benefits.

Taken at this level, boron could be an easy addition to your supplementation routine that has broad health benefits.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 boron recommendation, click here.





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