What Is Boron?

Boron capsules, peanuts, apples, raisins, and avocado

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Boron is a naturally occurring element found in plant foods. It is considered a nonessential nutrient for humans. You take in boron from foods, but you can also get boron from supplements.

Boron supplements have several alleged uses. However, evidence for benefits of boron is either mixed or limited. This article will review boron, its possible benefits, and what is known about dosage and risks.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.

When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts


Active Ingredient(s): Boron

Alternate Name(s): Sodium borate, boron ascorbate, boron aspartate, boron citrate, boron gluconate, boron glycinate, boron picolinate, boron amino acid chelate, calcium fructoborate

Suggested Dose: No recommended dose has been established

Safety Considerations: Avoid taking boron supplements if you have kidney disease or problems with kidney function

Uses of Boron

Supplement use is up to the individual but should be vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or medical doctor or other healthcare professional. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent a disease.

Overall, there is a lack of research on the use of boron. The research that is available suggests it may be useful for osteoarthritis and yeast infections.

Boron has also been studied, but not proven, for the following:

  • Cancer risk
  • Bone health
  • Athletic performance

Cancer Risk

In a case-control study comparing healthy people to people with lung cancer, researchers found that those with the lowest boron intake had almost twice the risk of lung cancer. It is important to note that this type of study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Additionally, boron is found mainly in plant foods, and consuming more fruits and vegetables is generally recommended for reducing cancer risk.

Bone Health

Boron is also thought to improve bone health. However, no human studies have proven that boron can impact bone density. One observational study determined that boron intake did not correlate with bone mineral density in humans. Additionally, a clinical trial in which athletes were given 3 milligrams (mg) of boron daily did not show an effect on bone mineral density.

Athletic Performance

Some people also use boron supplements to help improve sports performance. However, one research study found no effect of boron on testosterone levels, lean body mass, and strength when people took 2,500 micrograms (mcg) of boron daily for seven weeks.

Furthermore, a more recent systematic review of mineral and trace element supplementation in athletes also suggested that seven weeks of boron supplementation had no effect on athletic performance.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not yet enough scientific evidence to support most of the claims for the health benefits of taking boron supplements.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage that protects bones wears down over time, causing discomfort and pain. A few small and observational research studies suggest that boron supplementation may improve symptoms associated with OA.

A double-blind placebo-controlled study is one in which neither participants nor researchers know who was given the active ingredient or an ineffective placebo. In one such trial, people with OA evaluated supplementation of calcium fructoborate (a form of boron) for two weeks. According to the preliminary results, short-term calcium fructoborate supplementation reduced markers of inflammation (e.g., C-reactive protein).

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, including 60 adults with OA, looked at outcomes of boron supplementation. People who received 6 milligrams per day for two weeks reported reduced knee pain. However, it should be noted that the study was conducted by researchers funded by the company that manufactures the supplement.

Yeast Infections

One of the more popular uses of boron is for vaginal yeast infections (candidiasis). In these cases, people use boric acid capsules inside the vagina. Boric acid is a form of boron. It is sometimes said to help with recurrent vaginal yeast infections when used as a vaginal suppository. You should never ingest boric acid.

In a 2003 research review from Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, investigators analyzed several studies on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to treat yeast infections. They found that boric acid appears to be beneficial for people with recurrent yeast infections that are resistant to conventional therapies. However, they caution that boric acid may cause vaginal burning and other side effects.

In a 2011 research review published in the Journal of Women's Health, researchers concluded that "boric acid is a safe, alternative, economic option" for people with recurrent yeast infections. However, boric acid can be absorbed through the skin, and a safe dosage hasn't been established.

While some research has found positive outcomes in boron supplementation for treating yeast infections, much of the research is dated, and the quality of the research has been questioned. Therefore, the benefit cannot be confirmed. You should always consult with your healthcare provider for treatment advice, as with any health condition.

Boron Deficiency

A deficiency in boron is rare. The total intake of boron from food and supplements ranges from 1 to 1.5 milligrams daily.

Signs and symptoms of a boron deficiency have yet to be established, making it hard to know who may be at risk of a deficiency. Boron status (measured in urine or blood) is not routinely checked.

What Are the Side Effects of Boron?

Consuming boron in excess can cause symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Skin flushing, convulsions, tremors, vascular collapse, and even fatal poisonings at 15–20 grams in adults have been reported at higher doses.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions that boron supplements or high dietary intake of boron may be harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions, including breast cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. The concern is that boron may increase production of hormones such as estrogen and testosterone in certain individuals.

There are also reports that boron supplementation can reduce phosphorus levels in the blood.

If you're considering using boron, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first. It's important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Boron capsules
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Precautions

Remember to keep all supplements out of the reach of children and pets. If you or someone you know overdoses on boron, seek medical help or call the Poison Control Center.

Boron can be safe when used as recommended. However, large quantities can be dangerous. Children should not use boron or boric acid suppositories, topical boric acid powder, or a borax solution used to clean infant pacifiers.

Boron is approved to take during pregnancy when used in appropriate amounts. Do not apply boric acid to the vagina in the first four months of pregnancy, however, as it can potentially cause birth defects. Boron has not been studied in breastfeeding people, therefore, it is not recommended for use while nursing.

If you have a history of estrogen-sensitive cancer or are on hormonal therapy, avoid taking high amounts of boron.

In addition, boron is eliminated primarily through the kidneys, so it should be avoided by people with kidney disease or problems with kidney function.

Dosage: How Much Boron Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for boron, but a tolerable upper limit (TUL) was set at 20 milligrams daily. Most Americans consume 1–3 milligrams of boron daily through their diet alone. Vegetarians tend to have a higher intake. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that an "acceptable safe range" of boron intake ranges from 1 to 13 milligrams daily.

The upper limit of intake for children varies by age, as follows:

  • 1 to 3 years old: 3 milligrams/day
  • 4 to 8 years old: 6 milligrams/day
  • 9 to 13 years old: 11 milligrams/day
  • 14 to 18 years old: 17 milligrams/day

Although the few clinical trials published used a boron dose ranging from 1 milligram to 6 milligrams daily, it is generally believed to be safe between 1 and 20 milligrams daily.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Boron?

Taking more boron than recommended may result in:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Rash
  • Convulsions
  • Headaches

Large doses of boron over a long time may also lead to dermatitis, hair loss, and anorexia. Extremely high amounts of boron can be fatal.

Interactions

There are no known medication interactions with boron. However, boron supplements may increase the amount of magnesium that stays in your body, increasing blood levels of magnesium.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you take boric acid or boron supplements while pregnant?

    Boron is likely safe to take if used in appropriate amounts. However, if taken in high quantities while pregnant, boric acid or boron supplements may not be safe for the fetus.

    One study showed that elevated levels of boron might be toxic to human development. While more research still needs to be done, it's better to be safe when considering supplement use while pregnant.

  • Is boron good for arthritis?

    Boron may be suitable for arthritis when taken in appropriate amounts. One study indicated that taking at least three milligrams per day of boron may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help with osteoarthritis. It is also shown to positively impact the body's usage of testosterone, estrogen, and vitamin D. However, more research is needed.

    You should always consult with a healthcare provider about any new supplements you are considering taking.

Sources of Boron & What to Look For

Boron supplements are sold in many natural food stores and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Keep in mind that If you choose to buy a supplement such as boron, the NIH recommends that you examine the supplement facts label before purchasing the product. This label will contain important information, including the number of active ingredients per serving and other added ingredients (like fillers, binders, and flavorings).

Also, the organization suggests that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third-party organization that provides quality testing. These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International.

A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness. But it does assure that the product was manufactured correctly, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Food Sources of Boron

Boron is found in many plant-based foods, including:

  • Avocado
  • Red apples
  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Pecans
  • Potatoes
  • Peaches

Boron Supplements

Boron supplements come in many different forms, such as:

  • Boron citrate
  • Boron glycinate
  • Boron aspartate
  • Calcium fructoborate

There is no evidence to support using one form over the other.

As for all supplements, look for ones that have been third-party tested, as minerals may have toxic heavy metals found in them (e.g., lead and arsenic)

Summary

Boron is a natural mineral that we can get from plant-based foods. There is little research to support further supplementation with boron. However, some research suggests that it may benefit osteoarthritis and yeast infections.

Additionally, there is no RDA set for boron. Most healthy people are likely getting adequate boron through their diet alone, so supplementation may not be necessary. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplements.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. Reyes-Izquierdo T, Argumedo R, Phelan M, et al. Short-term efficacy of calcium fructoborate on subjects with knee discomfort: a comparative, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014; 9:895-9. doi:10.2147/CIA.S64590

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  14. Pizzorno L. Nothing boring about boronIntegr Med (Encinitas). 2015;14(4):35-48. PMID:26770156

Additional Reading
  • National Institutes of Health. Boron: MedlinePlus Supplements.

  • Nielsen FH. Is Boron Nutritionally Relevant? Nutr Rev. 2008 Apr;66(4):183-91.

  • Penland JG. The Importance of Boron Nutrition for Brain and Psychological Function. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Winter;66(1-3):299-317.

  • Sobel, J. D., Chaim, W., Nagappan, V., & Leaman, D. (2003). Treatment of vaginitis caused by Candida glabrata: use of topical boric acid and flucytosine. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 189(5), 1297–1300. doi:10.1067/s0002-9378(03)00726-9

  • Van Kessel K, Assefi N, Marrazzo J, Eckert L. Common Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Yeast Vaginitis and Bacterial Vaginosis: a Systematic Review. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2003 May;58(5):351-8.

  • Devirian TA, Volpe SL. "The Physiological Effects of Dietary Boron." Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(2):219-31.
  • Iavazzo C, Gkegkes ID, Zarkada IM, Falagas ME. "Boric Acid for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: the Clinical Evidence." J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Aug;20(8):1245-55.

By Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N, CNSC, FAND
Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N-AP, CNSC, FAND is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and writer with over 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition. Her experience ranges from counseling cardiac rehabilitation clients to managing the nutrition needs of complex surgical patients.

Originally written by
Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

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