What is Boron?
Boron is an ‘ultra-trace’ element, meaning it is needed by the body in indescribably small amounts. In a laboratory setting it is difficult even to induce a deficiency in rats – it’s necessary to filter all food and air for this to occur. However there has been some interesting research with regards to boron supplementation over the years, especially in regards to testosterone levels.
Where Does Boron Come From?
Boron is found throughout our environment, and occurs naturally in many plant products, including raisins, prunes and peanuts, bananas and red apples, and broccoli. There is also a small amount found in honey.
It is likely that Boron plays a role in many aspects of the human body, including bone structure, hormone levels, brain function and the immune system, as well as interacting with absorption of other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. It is generally used in alternative medicine for overall wellness and cognitive improvement.
Boron Benefits for Bodybuilding
Testosterone is well known to increase the body’s muscle building capabilities, and an earlier study indicated that Boron increases the level of free testosterone in postmenopausal women – it is for this reason that it may be of interest to the fitness industry. It is possible that higher levels of Boron than found naturally in food could produce this effect in athletes. A study in healthy adult men noted a trend to increase free testosterone with Boron supplementation - which can come in handy as a way to support muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth along with resistance training.
Side Effects, Safety & Negatives of Boron
As yet, supplementing with boron has no conclusive health benefits, despite its use in alternative medicine. Boron has a similar toxicity to common table salt. For an 80kg male, nearly 20g of boron would have to be consumed to have a death rate of 50%. However, long term supplementation with relatively high amounts (0.5g/day over two months) of boron can cause mild digestive complaints. It is also known that Boron can have an effect on levels of estrogen in both men and women; however, the studies available at the moment have conflicting results in regards to the exact outcome, with some increasing and some decreasing blood levels of the hormone. Whether this issue is a negative or positive will depend on future studies.
Boron Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
The optimal supplementary levels of Boron are not known, however the lowest effective dose may be around 3mg. In terms of having any kind of hormonal changes, 10mg appears to be the standard used in scientific studies. In order to be optimally absorbed it is recommended to take Boron with food.
Boron can be bought in table form over the counter, or it is available in some general multivitamin/minerals. It can also be found in some nutritional body building supplements designed to increase testosterone, such as MuscleTech’s Anotest.
Boron has very little interaction with other supplements. It can be associated with altered urinary levels of phosphorus and calcium, however only at very low levels unlikely to have any kind of noticeable effect. Boron can therefore be stacked with all body building supplements, but may work well with other testosterone support supplements, protein and anti-estrogen supplements due to its potential as an testosterone boosting and estrogen lowering tool.
‘Effect of Dietary Boron on mineral, Estrogen, and Testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women’ Nielson FH et al. FASEB Journal 1987.
‘The effect of Boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects’ Nahii MR & Samman S, Biol Trace Elem Res 1997
‘The effect of Boron supplementation on lean body mass, plasma testosterone levels and strength in male body builders’ Ferrando AA & Green NR, Int J Sport Nutrition 1993